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2008 Conversations

2007 Conversations

2006 Conversations

Conversation: Aaron Boyd

God of this City

Belfast, Ireland-based worship band Bluetree, whose acclaimed album, God of This City, is one of the best-selling Christian recordings this year, has toured Canada and the United States since the spring. The band wrote the title track to the album during a 2006 missions trip to Thailand. Beyond the theological strength of the lyrics, the song is generating international support for ministries that combat child sex slavery, a crisis the band observed firsthand during their Thailand tour.

Lead singer Aaron Boyd spoke with Scott Harrup, senior associate editor, about Bluetree’s commitment to impassion followers of Christ to meet the world’s crises in the power of the gospel.

evangel: Who is Bluetree?

BOYD: We’re just five local church guys from Belfast. Blue-tree was formed about five years ago. We started playing and going around churches in Northern Ireland. We played a few churches in England and Scotland, and that’s how it went for years.

As a band we want to serve as a platform for worship and to move people to a place where they understand they’re called to be God’s hands and feet and be hope and peace and love in people’s lives. In every aspect of your life, if you start in worship with God as a banner above your life, you begin to look at the answers Christ offers rather than just the problems.

evangel: Talk about your family. It’s got to be challenging as you travel.

BOYD: My wife, Jill, is the greatest woman on earth. Lillie and Josie are 3 and 1. That’s the four of us.

Jill has had grace for this whole thing. It would be wrong for me to enter into this if she didn’t have peace about it. I’ll be on the other side of the world, and she’ll know I’m about to walk on stage and I’ll get this amazing text message that says, “This is what you’ve been called to do. Go for it.”

evangel: You and Jill have had to deal with Lillie’s cystic fibrosis.

BOYD: Until a few years ago, kids with CF had a projected lifespan of about 5 years. That really rocked our world when we found out about it. You think you’ve got your theology all neatly wrapped up, and then you begin to ask questions like, “Where does this come from?” “Who’s this from?” And you can either try to work it out yourself in your own head or you can find out what the Word says.

To be honest, for the first year of her life we tried to work it out in our own heads, and we just made up something that kind of felt right — “God’s going to teach us something through this. He’s using this to teach us something.” But after that first year we really embarked on this journey of realizing the God we read about in the New Testament is not Someone who wants my 1-year-old kid to have cystic fibrosis. We believe we’ll see Lillie fully restored and healed, that God sits up in heaven and He wants her to be well and wants her to have a great full life.

evangel: You’ve written a song about that journey.

BOYD: I wrote “Each Day” when I found out about Lillie and was thinking about what that meant in terms of my worshipping God. How does this all work? Are my emotions involved in worship? And I realized even though I feel a certain way, even though I feel confused, the promises of God are yes and amen. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. And He says, “I am the Lord God your Healer.”

If you take everything in human terms, I’m human, I’m her dad, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do if I could physically see those symptoms go away. And the God who created everything, I believe there’s nothing He wouldn’t do. He proved that 2,000 years ago when He sent Jesus Christ.

And Lillie’s doing great. She’s putting on weight. She just turned 3, and she’s in the next room playing.

evangel: The story behind the song “God of This City” is powerful. Could you talk about that?

BOYD: A church we attended before we transferred to a new church plant organized a short-term missions trip to Thailand. Our band went along to lead worship.

We knew there was a strong red light district in Thailand, but we didn’t grasp the extent of it. We were there to encourage local churches to be a witness in their communities, and we were visiting a coastal town where prostitution was the principal industry, including child prostitution. Children are bought from their families, sometimes under false pretenses, and then sold to brothels.

We were able to play at several sites in the city, and someone managed to get us into a bar in the very heart of the city’s brothels. The street runs for about half a mile, and sex tourists can buy whatever they want to buy. We played an hour and a half in that bar, and that is when God laid that song on our hearts. The song became the catalyst for launching our charity.

evangel: You’re taking on an international human tragedy. Does that overwhelm you?

BOYD: When you grow up in Belfast with its conflict, you can become desensitized to what’s going on. You hear of people being shot, but you never really feel like you have the responsibility or even the ability to do something about it. The problem seems infinitely greater than what you feel your solution could be.

But when you get a revelation of what God’s heart is for the whole of humanity, and catch a glimpse of His love for the downtrodden, it will drive you to action. Everyone has their own “God of This City” experience. For us, we had that experience seeing the child sex industry, seeing people caught and sold into the most despicable thing ever. But each of us needs to find that issue we need to do something about.

evangel: What progress are you seeing?

BOYD: Our band has looked for ways to partner with ministries that are addressing this tragedy. God keeps bringing the right people into place, and we want to funnel as much funds as we can into established ministries to abused kids, ministries that get these children out of that life and care for them and point them to a new life in Christ.

You’re dealing with a multibillion-dollar industry that is deeply rooted in the governments that allow it, but the Bible tells us that “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” More and more people are realizing that our faith must go beyond going to church on Sunday morning like some social club. We’re the hope of the world.

evangel: What’s your larger mission?

BOYD: I’m a real local church kind of guy. The church is the most exciting and dynamic thing out there. And that’s true on a global scale too. Bluetree exists to partner with churches across the world, to lead them in worship, to help people come to a place where they can experience God and get a revelation of who God is in their lives and what God has for them.

The songs I write just take the truth of what the Bible says and let people lift that over their lives. That’s the simplicity of the gospel, to take the truths of God’s Word and apply it to our lives to whatever situations we’re walking through. That’s how we reign in life and soar like eagles.

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