PHATFISH are about to embark on their biggest ever UK tour. Aleem Hossain investigated.
If I told you that Phatfish have just returned from their holiday in Hawaii, you might be inclined to think that they have a rather relaxed life. You would, of course, be wrong. Phatfish have worked tirelessly over the years, promoting themselves from clubland to one of Britain's best loved Christian bands. This year has been no exception with the band partnering with Hope HIV to help raise money for orphaned HIV children throughout Africa, working at their church and then playing at Soul Survivor during all three weeks. Long after the tan has worn off, November will see the band, who led worship at the gone-but-not-forgotten Stoneleigh Bible weeks, embarking on their first UK tour. The Truth Tour, which will be supported by Cathy Burton, kicks off in Milton Keynes on November 6th and then takes the band to 14 other venues around the UK. The two Scottish gigs will feature special guests Indigoecho and for the grand finale in Croydon on November 30th, the band will be joined by Matt Redman. So, what is the Truth Tour about?
Lead singer Louise Fellingham sums up, "Coming from the kind of church background that we do, we believe very strongly in the Word of God and the importance of the Holy Spirit. From travelling recently, we felt stirred to come again to the people and present the truth so that we can be that bride that God wants us to be." She continues, "It's really testimony of how you can stand on the Word of God through times of trouble. What we want to do is impart to people who they are in God and then, as a result of who they are in God, how they can live their lives. As an encouragement, we've got the Word of God, we've got the Holy Spirit and we just want to really affirm that to people and encourage them in their walk with God."
Well, it all sounds very noble, but it's often easier said than done
when it comes to relying on the Word when things in life are
less-than-grand. So, how exactly are the band going to tackle this
theme? As Louise explains, it's all about getting the fundamentals in
place that equip us to deal with whatever life throws our way. "If we
really knew who we were, if we really knew how God sees us and how we
can then live our lives according to that, then, whatever you face you
can apply it. Whether it's grief, whether it's relationship breakdown,
whether it's stuff in the workplace or at school, if we know what the
truth of God is throughout it s and we hold on to our relationship
with God and if we're hearing God and walking with him every day, then
we can apply ourselves to whatever else is surrounding that. It
doesn't mean life is perfect, but it means that you've got your weapon
in your hand to stand up and face whatever comes at you."
For a ministry such as this, it is important to identify the main issues spiritually that are facing the people that the band will be talking to. Louise is confident that they are going to meet the need that's out there. "I think relationships and the fatherhood of God will be key. There are obviously things that are more in our face in today's society; sexuality and the way that the edges are being more and more blurred through our televisions and our schools; divorce; lying and cheating. I think that if we are in that walk with God every day, then we are learning to hear his voice. You read about the way Jesus was in the Bible and you think, 'I know I would be so much more like the disciples at the moment than I would be like Jesus.' Responding to people how Jesus wants us to respond to them is a big challenge, but it is available to us to be like that if we learn how to be with him."
The multimedia extravaganza will include worship and ministry songs,
video clips and testimony from people of how applying the Word of God
in their lives in certain situations has helped. But what about the
fact that for a lot of people, reading the Bible is really boring?
After all, in today's microwave culture, that's a universal challenge
for many Christians of all ages. Louise comments, "I guess we want to
inspire people and say, 'it doesn't have to be boring.' The more you
can get into it, the more you can find out from it. People can go to
the Bible and say, 'I've got to read my Bible today, oh well, I'll
just read a couple of lines,' or they can go, 'OK God, I don't have a
clue what's written on this page, can you enlighten me today?' The
more you walk in a relationship with God, the more things jump out at
you from the page. Sometimes it is hard work and sometimes it is a
slog, but we want to encourage people that it is definitely worth
doing because if we know who we are in God then we can face all these
other challenges. I think it's getting that revelation of why you do
it and why it's important. Remembering that you need God every day to
survive; you need to depend on him and you need to have this
relationship with him. Even thinking about preparation for the tour,
when you've got so much to do it's easy to suddenly think, 'Right,
well I haven't got time to spend with God this morning 'cause I've got
all this stuff I need to do.' God says, 'I am the bread of life,' so
it's coming to him for food every day; not just eating your breakfast
but actually coming and getting your food from him every day to
survive. Sometimes it is a challenge and sometimes it is hard work,
then other times you go through phases where it's just amazing and
each day you can't wait to read it because you know God's just showing
you more and more stuff."
The band are leaving plenty of room for God to operate and Louise recalls, "If you come to our gigs, usually there's a point where something breaks open and either God gives us something to say, or gives us a song to sing, gives us some Scripture to read out, that kind of stuff. So, I think we'll carry on with that flow and then see how it feels in terms of bringing people forward. It's expecting that dynamic, expecting people's lives to be impacted by God. But it has to be God that changes us - it has to be the Holy Spirit. We can't do it by ourselves." She elaborates, "Music is a communicator and it doesn't always have to communicate through words either. God can use stuff through music to release certain emotions or to speak to people in a different way because it stirs up thoughts and emotions."
Often, one of the dangers of events like this is that very little follow up work goes on after the event, but, as Louise explains, this should not be the case with the Truth Tour. "We are going to hopefully have a CD for people to take home with them on The Grace Of God. Terry Virgo did some short talks at Re.vive, at Stoneleigh a few years ago and they've just really impacted so many people's lives. There's also going to be a little booklet to take away which will include a few ideas of books that people can read on different issues. Also part of the tour is that we're working alongside local churches in those areas. So they will have a definite presence there so that there will be in place a follow up from what we've done."
The Truth Tour sounds like an exciting new phase in the band's ministry. So what is Louise looking forward to the most? "I think, personally, it's just telling people about God. I love doing that. I can't wait to sing and look people in the eyes and communicate to them. Seeing them respond to God and knowing that as a result of those nights, I do really believe that God will inspire people and breathe life and vision into people. I guess my dream is that there will be people getting healed, people getting saved; I'm not just expecting Christians to come. Very often we have quite a few non-Christians that do turn up and God meets with them as well. So pray for salvation, pray for the Church to be built around the country; that people would 'catch the vision' of who they are and therefore that will impact local churches and then fire people and get them excited and hungry to see things happen in their local place. Hopefully it will all be fun.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.