His powerful album 'Future Dreams' brought forth rave reviews and he's now committed to giving his product away. Tony Cummings spoke to STEPHEN BENNETT.
Stephen Bennett, musician, Bible teacher and prophet made a huge impact at Cross Rhythms '95 and was asked to return to this year's event. Stephen's travelling expenses weren't quite as hefty this year for the singer has now settled his whole family in the UK.
What has made you relocate to the UK?
"We've been touring England since 1993 and this is my fifth time out here. I've sensed for a long time that God was calling me and my family to settle here. Last year when we came back from our long tour we took a couple of months off in December and January to rest and pray. We sensed a real call of God for this nation and what God's called us to do. We reflected back over the last four years as a foundational time and how God's been preparing us for this time, to set up a base here. We have a real heart for the United Kingdom. I don't think it comes as a surprise that I was actually born here."
What family do you have?
"My wife Rebecca and Jesika our daughter, who is 20 months and we have another one on the way due in November. That'll be an English child. Rebecca plays keyboards. She writes as well. She played the keyboard on 'Future Dreams'. We travel together and we are looking forward to setting up a home here and networking relationships. I think that's an imperative in our Christian lives, to network the relationships we have. We have a lot of good friends here. Our hearts are not just to go minister, do meetings and concerts just for the sake of doing them. We see a purpose in doing a lot and relationships have to be at the heart of that and I think that's a really powerful base to work from."
I understand you had a prophetic word about your ministry
"Yes, Gerald Coates and Noel Richards came to our church in Australia last new year's eve. Gerald prophesied over Rebecca and I that as well as our music we would also develop a ministry to feed the hungry and be a resource to people who are poor."
Attitudes towards music and worship seem to be changing in the
"Yes, I really feel that the prophetic nature of the musician, the apostolic nature of music is beginning to be recognised. In my book The Prophet Musician I talk about the music becoming a vehicle for the tapestry of one's character and one's ability to communicate. I think it's really down to us what God's given us. Bob Geldoff - he saw a great need in Africa and did something about it and musicians were able to motivate the world. I think that was an amazing effort what he did. That's an example of that. We musicians shouldn't be just gig-orientated, meeting-orientated or sales-orientated. You know, 'I must get the album out and tour it,' kind of approach. We musicians must start working as prophetic, apostolic people with the local church."
I understand you have a burden for the Christians in Cambodia.
Tell me about that.
"In the beginning of '93 my wife and I took a music team to the Philippines and a lot of my heart has been touched by what I saw and heard there. I met this apostle of Cambodia and I realised the great need nations such as his have. Not a lot of people tour Cambodia! The needs of the Christians in Cambodia are for resources, especially teaching, education and worship resources - guitars, strings, tuners, things like that seem to be hard to come by but what we take for granted. As a musician, teacher and writer I'd love to go in there and minister and take resources into such a nation as that. I'd love to take a container load of guitars and give them away to all the worship leaders that he can gather in the nation. Take a team of powerful consecrated musicians who are able to teach, impart something of the Lord. Not to go there and think, 'How much money can I make out of this, and how many albums can I sell?' I'd like to take 50, 100,000 tapes and give them away! We did that in the Philippines on a smaller scale in 1993, I took all these albums to sell and the Lord said 'just give them away'. I said to the Lord, 'Okay, well you pay for them!' The first few concerts we did we tried to sell them. We set up a table and were going to sell them for 100 pesos, about three dollars, that's about one pound 50 pence. I sold one! That was when the Lord spoke to me. The thing that happened was that because we were giving them away with love they received them that way. It was amazing the follow up trip there. We were going back to the villages which were previously very hard to evangelise. All you could hear was my tape being played everywhere! They might be dirt poor but they've got tape players, videos and colour tellies. So here are these kids in the street singing, 'We are children of the Lord going to war' and they weren't even saved! I really believe in the prophetic power of music. Think about that on a national scale. I guess that's what I've been on about in my book. We get that revelation in our hearts about prophetic, apostolic music, it's very, very powerful."
I understand The Prophet Musician will be available through
Kingsway soon. Any more books on the way?
"I'm writing a book on biblical economics at the moment. It's a book that will give revelation to the way the Kingdom of God works. When you're touring and you are not supported by a local church or an organisation you often rely on yourselves or the product sales and offerings to get through. Last year the Lord spoke to me and said, 'I want you to run your ministry differently. When you are ministering in churches I want you to throw your product at the church, give it away!' This was a big challenge to us because in the past we'd go in and say, 'If we sell this we can cover our fares, etc, etc.' So that went out the window! In the last six or seven weeks we've given away 20,000 dollars worth of product. Tapes, videos, CDs, books, just sown it as a seed into the Church, with a lot of love. It's released resources back to us that we would never have seen happen had we just done it with a buying and selling mentality. So I've been really challenged myself."
Are you recommending that artists give their product
"I'm not recommending it on a broad scale. What I'm saying is that's what God told us to do. I don't have a problem with marketing Christian media. My album 'Future Dreams' is sold in Christian bookshops by Kingsway. But myself, as a musician, I want to operate in a ministry with a dominion of resources. When I go into a local church, say up in Scotland for example, where there are areas with 85 per cent unemployment, and I go with full Christian retail on my product. People would love to have it and be blessed by it but they simply can't afford it. I had real trouble with that within my heart the last year. I wanted to see people getting blessed; I wanted to sow into their lives. I want to be able to go into situations like that and say, 'I'm here to bless you. I'm not here to see how much I can get in my offering out of you, or how many sales I can make. I want to bring my product that God's given me the gift to be able to produce and here, it's for you.' It's to build the Church. That's the heart behind it."