Tony Cummings quizzed JOEL VAUGHN about his life and music
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Tony: Tell me a bit about your early life.
Joel: I was born at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina on 15th June 1986. So if you're counting, yes I recently joined the 3-0 club. My parents are Christians and were very involved in the church. At the time my dad was both a youth pastor and a pastor. My mom was a worship leader so I grew up with a love for singing and worship in the church. The songs she sang stirred a passion and love for God in me very early on. I remember when I first understood the meaning of sin and how it separates us from God. I remember that longing in my soul for something more even before I knew how to tie my own shoes! One Wednesday evening in the spring of 1992 in Amory, Mississippi I asked my mom if she would walk with me to the altar so I could give my life to Jesus. She walked to the altar with me, prayed with me, and I prayed to God for salvation. I vividly remember the change in my heart. Some people may think that's crazy or that it was too early for me to know but I felt the Holy Spirit in that moment in a way I will not forget. I don't remember the exact day of the month but I remember the blue sky before walking in the building, the time of worship we had singing "Create In Me A Clean Heart", the colour of the carpet, the smell of the air in the building, the feel of the rickety old church pews, and the tears that ran down my mother's face when she prayed that prayer with me. That was the day.
Tony: I really love your vocal on the Satellites & Sirens album. How did you come to guest on that track?
Joel: I met the lead singer Geoff over the phone about a year ago as I was putting together my first EP with Dream. We actually previously met back in 2010 while he was on tour with Air 1. I brought them in for a concert at my church in Amarillo, Texas and we didn't talk again until six years later. My life at the time was very much planted in the church and his was very much on the road. Anyway, we hit it off and we started talking about what it would look like to collaborate with each other. We just didn't know how that would flesh out if that makes sense. A few weeks later I started trying to write songs with Geoff over Voice Notes and text messages. I was in the middle of conferences and leading worship at youth camps so it was a crazy time - I was also crazy unsuccessful at making good music over the phone. So, I flew to Phoenix, Arizona and I led worship with him and his team. That week I got to help with several songs for their record. Geoff had one more he needed to finish before sending it off to mix so we finished writing the song together and I sang the second verse and chorus. It turned out really well!
Tony: Do you still lead worship?
Joel: I still lead worship very often! It is very much a part of who I am. If I'm not leading in my local church (The Bridge) here in the Nashville area I'm leading for youth camps and conferences elsewhere. That's pretty much weekly.
Tony: Tell me a spiritual lesson you have learned in the last year?
Joel: Before moving to Nashville, I had been 1000 miles away in Amarillo, Texas for almost 15 years. I went to college there, I met my spouse there, we got married there, our children were born there, and my entire adolescence from 15-years-old forward was spent there. I was leaving home for something unfamiliar that may or may not turn out well but I knew God was leading us to Nashville for more reasons than just music. Has it been hard moving so far away from friends and family? Absolutely! I believe there's a deeper purpose that we are here. When things are hard financially or because seeing our family is only possible every couple of months I keep being reminded by God to fix my eyes on him, to trust him and to lead my family well through this time in our lives.
One way God showed me the purpose of our being here is through my daughter. It was a tough week and we were ready to throw in the towel and go back home to Texas. That Sunday our church gave the kids an object lesson on how to pray for their friends and love them. They gave her a bag of candy with a Bible verse and told them to pray about who they were supposed to give that bag to and why. One morning as I was dropping the kids off at school my daughter brought that bag of candy with her. While we were sitting in the car we asked her who it was for and why. She looked at us and said, "I want to give it to my friend because I love him and I want him to know that Jesus loves him." She's five and I can't say that I ever shared my faith with anyone when I was five. Tears of both joy and sorrow filled our eyes. Sorrow, because earlier that week our faith was so low that we were ready to walk away from Nashville. However, we had Joy because we were in awe of the miracles in our little family. That was just what we needed to bolster our faith, realise why we are here, and that we can truly trust God.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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