Michael Card: The veteran US songsmith

Wednesday 1st February 1995

He wrote "El Shaddai" and he's much loved for his biblical concept albums. But there are many other sides to the veteran singer/songwriter MICHAEL CARD. He spoke to Steve Givens.

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If he isn't busy working on his next album or being with his family (wife Susan and four children) in Franklin, Tennessee, just outside Nashville, you might find Michael Card smuggling bibles into China. A spokesman for the Bible League, he felt he wanted to see what the organization was doing firsthand, so he recently went to China as an observer. He ended up doing more than he originally planned and was almost arrested for his efforts. A recent statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury that Christians shouldn't be smuggling Bibles into China -chiefly because Bibles are already readily available there - confuses Card.

"He obviously doesn't know what's going on there," says Card, who holds a master's degree in biblical studies from Western Kentucky University. "People can get Bibles if they register with a government church, which is referred to in their charter as a patriotic organization of the Communist Party. There are a lot of good Christian people in that church, it's a body of Christians, but by far and away the majority of believers in China will not join that church. When you ask them why, to a man they'll all tell you it's because Christ is the head of the church and not the Communist Party. Those people can't get Bibles.

"The Communist government specializes in propaganda. They've even used Billy Graham in their propaganda. They have Amity Press there that prints Bibles and they'll bring someone like Billy Graham in and take his picture in front of a pile of Bibles and say 'See, everybody in China can get Bibles,' but it's just not true. So I would think the archbishop is being used as a propaganda tool. The Chinese government routinely beat pastors to death in front of their congregations. That happens. People caught smuggling Bibles are tortured. That's not consistent with 'Bibles are freely available in China.' If they were freely available the people that I was working with would be excited. They'd be bringing them in and not smuggling them."

Although Card says he sometimes falls prey to the same trappings of success as anyone else, in the final analysis success is all-relative, and he prefers to measure his one person at a time.

"The best part of me views success as a one-person-at-a-time thing," he says. "If a person comes up after a concert and says they came to faith after they heard a song or they played a song at their child's christening, that to me is success. It's one person at a time, not gathering together a herd of people and counting their numbers and saying 'this is success; I sold a million records.'" CR

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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