Third World Symphony with Shaun Groves

Updated :: Giveaway winners will be announced Tuesday September 6. Still time to enter!

Shaun and I followed Kat up the ladder into the dark, one-room house made of cardboard and tin. Shaun was our team leader and he walked these streets and climbed these ladders in India and Guatemala and Kenya. But Manila was my first undoing and the grief came tsunami heavy. We crowded together in that small space, and the first thing I saw when we got there was toddler AJ asleep on the floor. He was so small and so like my son. I tried to hide my face behind the door, behind my camera, beneath my hand. Kat slipped me a tissue and I willed my body to stop shaking.

We stood silent as the Compassion volunteer sat with AJ’s mama and read from the Bible in Tagalog. I tried to distract myself by looking around the little room. That’s when I saw the matchbox car. My son has the same one. But this one here in the Philippines had no wheels. Grief.

Two days later we spent the day with four of the most vibrant, beautiful, confident young women I’ve yet to meet. They lived in poverty but were wealthy with love, grace, and compassion. They reminded me of girls in our youth group in North Carolina. They were lovely. Hope.

We flew home to the other side of the world. I quickly remembered how to walk in my own shoes again though I was sure they wouldn’t fit. I came home to a full freezer. An anxious seven year old. A basket full of matchbox cars. Cancer.

We had a birthday party and two weeks later, a funeral. Hope and then grief. And in the midst of all the brokenness and joy and living, I now stand torn between their world and mine.

It’s all pain, isn’t it? And the pain brought a tightening in my soul this summer, a folding in on myself in protection and a bit of fear. I wasn’t sure how to continue to process this world with that world and all that’s in between us. Then I started listening to Shaun’s new album. These words, they have brought a loosening within me. This music helps me see. This Third World Symphony brings these two worlds together like the wheel-less car on AJ’s table and those in my son’s basket; like the poverty on the streets of Manila and the death in my own family; like the hope of a bright future for young Filipino girls and also the ones in my small group. Shaun has seen things, and so has his music.

The words on this album remind me that Jesus is present when people are broken. And that it isn’t only all pain. It’s all grace. I wrote a book about grace, but still I forget. Have you watched this video of Shaun and Ann talking about his song, All is Grace? These two don’t just say truth, they believe it.

This album is an extension of that belief. And belief is what we are so desperate for, isn’t it? I don’t often recommend things, but might I recommend this? Shaun has found a way to sing theology. Deep truth. Gospel heart. If you want gentle direction on how to reconcile the third world way over there with our first world right here, begin with this. Come see. Want to hear a sample? Listen as Shaun sings the words on these pictures, the lyrics to Come By Here … (there is a video below – if you’re reading elsewhere you may need to click over)

So thankful to Shaun for staying up way too late and singing for us today. What a gift. Come By Here is track 2 on the album and I have it on repeat. And repeat.

Shaun Groves is a singer/songwriter, an artist, father, husband. He is also a friend. He advocates for children living in poverty around the world by traveling with Compassion International. His is a voice reminding all believers to remember that we weren’t just saved from something, but saved for something. His newest album, Third World Symphony, officially released yesterday. This is the second stop on the tour.

Want to win a copy for yourself? (You do. Trust me.) Leave a comment below and we’ll choose five winners to be announced Tuesday September 6.


  1. Becky J says

    Yes, Emily, I would love to win a copy of this heart has been softened by the Lord Jesus, so much, toward the fatherless…they always have an audience before His throne….Blessings, Becky J.

  2. says

    Emily, I followed you, Shaun, and your fellow bloggers on your trip to the Philippines.. My heart broke for and rejoiced at the same time as you showed us both despair and hope. I too have trouble reconciling this world with that world. I can honestly say your experience has helped change my perspective, how can I complain about old stained carpet when there is a Mom that has to wade through raw sewage just to get to her small home? I look a my job with a whole new perspective, I make in an hour more than many families make in a month. After your trip I decided to start working on Fridays (we only work half a day Fridays) for God and my Compassion kids. Working those extra hours enables me to help more kids and really is a great joy now. Thanks you, Shaun, and your fellow bloggers for helping me along this journey. I am hoping to travel to Togo with Compassion this next July to see my girls! Blessings to you!

  3. Kelly in Georgia says

    I watched (and cried through) Ann’s video last night. You and Ann and Shaun are all touching lives…here AND there. And it is by your touch that we are able to touch more too – full circle.
    Thank you for sharing. I would love a cd of Shaun’s heartfelt (heart-full?) music.

  4. says

    I followed you both on your Compassion trip, and was struck again by God’s grace. Struck again at the poverty in my own life. Struck again at how we all so desperately need the Lord.

    Truly this music has seen much. I’ve only seen a little, but these lyrics certainly speak to my heart.

    Would love to win the CD!

  5. Colleen G. says

    I have been reading alot about this CD and it sure does sound amazing. Would Love to win a copy of one. I also want to say your trip with Compassion has really touched my heart too. ThankYou! -Colleen G.

  6. says

    emily…i would love a copy of the CD. i watched the vimeo of ann and shaun and it was great! you’re right; they truly believe what they’re saying–it’sot just words for them. i followed you on your mission trips, i cried as i read the poverty you saw. i can’t imagine seeing a toddler, the same age as my own, living in such sad surroundings. i so appreciate you sharing your heart on here. and i can’t wait to read your book!

  7. says

    We do take much for granted where we live, the country in which we live, and what we have in the pantry. Our pastor once said that most of the time when we go to our fridge and say, “There’s nothing to eat,” most households have enough even on the end of a grocery cycle to eat for a week. It’s usually a statement we make because there’s nothing we want to eat in there. We forget that third world countries don’t have a choice if they are able to eat what they eat.

  8. says

    miss emily- this song is one of my favorites too. i fell in love with it when shaun did it from the bathroom in guatamala last fall : ) i already have a copy of the CD coming my way…just wanted to say this song speaks to me too. blessings to you and yours.

  9. Kim says

    I’d love a copy of this CD…these lyrics are moving and the music is so beautiful. I can’t stop listening to this new CD.

  10. says

    Dear Emily, Thank you so much for sharing your heart about your mission trip — for your struggle in reconciling all the pain you experienced, both there, and when you returned home. I have been on just a few trips — to Ethiopia, Navajo Nation, and Mexico — and I am forever struck by the poverty of my country, my own city, my own life, when I see how hope and love exists in the places where hearts are filled with Him, and how the busyness and materialism in life back home can distract from seeing His face. But there is also so much hopelessness, and so many people who don’t yet know the Father. And I am so moved by your team sharing His word and His heart with the lives you encountered — bringing His hope and light to His children, seeing even more of His face through this new uniting despite distance. Thank you so much. I downloaded Shaun’s cd last night, and have been soaking it up. I am so humbled and moved by “Come by Here.”

  11. Jessica says

    Miss Emily, once again you have described perfectly that which I have been experiencing for the past three weeks. You see, three weeks ago, I returned from a medical mission trip to Ghana, unsure of how to reconcile my life in America (with a solid education and a perpetually full fridge and flu shots) to what I saw, heard and tasted in Ghana (disease,poverty, and strangely enough…joy). It’s been difficult to process- it feels like I was there 3 years ago and not three weeks ago. But I’m making it through with realizations and revelations, all the while drawing closer to Father’s heart.

  12. says

    I just discovered Shaun’s blog a couple of weeks ago, and it’s very strange and wonderful to find out that all these other people whose blogs I read (such as you and Ann and Pioneer Woman) also know Shaun. What a small world. I’m excited about this CD, excited about how God is going to use it. And I’m a little scared about what he’s going to ask of me.

  13. Sharon O says

    I put the video of ‘all is grace’ on my facebook page. Hoping that someone would buy the book and the cd.

  14. says

    My eyes are leaking for some reason. Must be my allergies acting up ; )

    Thank you – again – for your beautiful words. What a gift you have, Emily. Thank you for sharing it with us and spending a little of it on me and this music. Love you, friend.

  15. Linda B says

    I would love a copy of this cd. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with the poverty that is out there. I feel so helpless to change anything…… I do nothing. Thank you for your blog. It has awakened within me once again that we all just need to do our small part and let God figure out the rest.

  16. says

    Please exclude me from the giveaway, but I just had to stop in and say thank you for your words…both of you. It’s so moving to relive that trip through your beautiful words, Emily, and to process my reaction and responses through your inspiring music, Shaun. Such a blessing…

  17. Kay B says

    Emily, This message of grace is flowing over me daily- our pastor and chruch have been immersing ourselves in this message for a few months now, you blog gives me a fresh daily reminder of Grace Life. I can hardly wait to receive your book, it’s on the way from Amazon and should be arriving in the mail any day now (maybe today!?) Please count me in for the drawing of the new Shaun Groves album!

  18. says

    I just want to say thank you for your ministry through blogging. I can’t wait to read your book and this CD will definitely be one that I purchase (and I just finished One Thousand Gifts last night). I LOVE how our Father is using each one of you for his glory. What a JOY to be on this journey with followers of Jesus who are using their talents so faithfully (and BEAUTIFULLY)!
    Blessed by your words and challenged in new ways this morning.
    Thank you!

  19. Terri says

    Just started reading your blog a few days ago…thank you for reminding us that Jesus is only and all.
    The CD definitely sounds like a blessing!


  20. says

    Love. That was just beautiful.

    I loved how you compared our two worlds, Emily. Just. Wow. I have been sponsoring a beautiful little girl named Cecilia from Tanzania since December of 2010 and for each letter and picture we exchange, I fall deeper in love with this girl and more and more compassionate for what Compassion is doing.

    I look forward Relevant for so many reasons – meeting you and Shaun is definitely at the top! I would love a shot at winning his CD. Thank you! :)

  21. Maranda Whorton says

    I love your blog. I love your heart for the Lord. I can’t wait to read your book! This blog really is a place for my soul to breathe. Truly! Thank you for that.

  22. says

    I would love to win a copy of this CD. I’ve been listening to it online, and it is life-changing music, helping us to refocus on the One on whom our gaze should rest.

  23. says

    Thank you for reminding us so honestly that all we have, all we do, all we are is for Him, by His grace. I am honored to have three children through adoption and they teach me about grace every single day. I am brand new to blogging and love the community of women who gather on your blog. Blessings to your heart today!

  24. Sarah Nutter says

    Love this. I praise God for both of you. I just became a Compassion advocate and am working my first event next Thursday. God is good.

  25. Rhonda in VA says

    What a beautiful song..and I so admire how you are able to write exactly what is written on your heart. Thanks for sharing on your blog.

  26. ~Bambi says

    I love your writing Emily. You are a talented and gifted writer. A blessing.

    Would like a CD but know there are so many more who do too. So… whosoever… let them win!

    God Bless You!

  27. Kiersten Johnosn says

    What beautiful words. You have a way with words that only can be given from the Lord. Thank you for this blog and the words you speak to us. I have listened to his c.d. at it is beautiful. I so would love a copy of it.

  28. Lou Ann says

    I discovered the CD yesterday when visiting Ann Voskamp’s blog. The song, All is Grace is amazing. Go check out the video of Ann & Shaun talking about the song and his heartfelt performance.

    I plan to purchase this as a gift, but would love to win a copy!

  29. Cindy says

    Thanks for posting this, Emily! It’s been crazy how God has used each of you on the Compassion Blogger team to open my eyes and soften my heart for the poor. The blogs you all posted in May were the beginning of a series of things God used to speak to and prepare me for ministry to international students this fall at university. Please include me in the drawing for Shaun’s CD.

  30. Dawn says

    I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to win Shaun’s CD. God has been teaching me many things this year about loving the poor and the needy. I truly believe that this is the heart of God…and oh, how I want my heart to resemble His. Thank you for sharing this song and your journey into seeing God’s heart.

  31. Sharon says

    Emily-your words inspire me to create, I would love to have this album to do the same. Thank you for sharing.

  32. says

    I already bought mine, so don’t put me in the drawing, but I just wanted to say that I love this. I am so grateful…for you, and Ann and Shaun. Thank you.

  33. Amanda says

    Hi Emily,
    I’ve been following your blog since your trip to the Philipines and really have been blessed by your writing. My husband and I moved to Nicaragua to serve with an orphan care ministry about the same time as your trip and many times in reading your words I felt just like Shaun – that you have been gifted with a way of expressing the thoughts that we have but don’t know how to get out. So thank you for sharing your heart, for continuing to lift up children in poverty, for sharing others who do too, and for your prayers that God will “Come by Here” wherever and for whomever. And thank you for keeping me encouraged from afar.

  34. says

    I have enjoyed each of the bloggers who have been on tour with Compassion, and each time, I’ve appreciated Shaun’s humble, joyful presence. Would enjoy getting a copy of this CD.

  35. says

    Reading all of your accounts of the recent Compassion trip amazed, educated, and challenged me. I imagine this music would do the same. Thank you so much for this kind opportunity.

  36. vicky says

    Emily, the boys and I just listened to Shaun’s song and loved it. Elijah said, “wow, I bet playing the guitar that good hurts his hands!” I loved the song but also what he said to you at the beginning about how you are so gifted at taking emotions that all of us feel and put them into words that only our hearts were saying, that we might never have gotten out of our mouths or pens. We would love to win a copy of his cd!

  37. says

    Oh how I would love to win a copy. I have it on my blog and have been listening to it on repeat. Having been to India and Haiti…..this album speaks so much truth, passion, and conviction to my heart.

    Thanks for the opportunity to possibly win a copy. I will eventually buy it, but I have to wait for a little while.

  38. susan says

    “…saved *for* something…” “…Pain *is* grace…” you are speaking your truth,too, and yet it is mine. As many have noted, it is theirs,too. After two definitive NDE’s I knew I was saved for a reason. I thought I knew what it was. But I couldn’t save Daddy, I can’t save Momma…just keep loving them gone or here and demented but somewhere in there…pain. And the grace that Daddy isnt in pain,he’s in God’s arms. And Momma suffers his loss-when she remembers. Dementia is my friend til her face crumbles and the agony shrieks…and the grace in letting me be there to rock her in my arms&sing gently till she’s calm. Perspective. Thank you. And yes,please, I need Shaun’s “symphony”, I need my heart to sing….again. Thank you for the opportunity & wishing you all blessings. @Shaun, my “allergies” are bad lately too :)

  39. says

    Hello Emily…I’ve been following your blog all summer – since I learned of you reading Ann Voskamp’s blog…your words are amazing, and I’m so excited to read your book! I can’t stop listening to the video of Shaun singing All’s Grace, and this record would minister to me in so many ways! I hope to receive a copy…thank you to you both for giving us the gift of art so frequently!

  40. Rachael says

    I just bought two copies of your book, one for me and one for a friend. We are on a journey to the top of the mountain called Grace. I can’t wait to read it. Looking forward to sampling the new cd on itunes. Thanks for the opportunity to win one.

  41. says

    Emily, I watched Shaun and Ann’s video on Ann’s blog yesterday, and enjoyed this post today. Shaun delivers such a beautiful musical message. His lyrics are thought-provoking and life changing. I would love to win this cd.

  42. says

    I was born in Manila in 1972, nineteen days after President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. About two years later, my family immigrated, and I grew up in L.A. Now I remember nothing about my birthplace, having it almost all Americanized outta me. I didn’t retain ability so speak my mother tongue (when my parents spoke to me in Tagalog, I responded in English), though I still can understand most of someone else’s conversation.
    But, I can make lumpia, and ube ice cream, and a few other things. :) I’d love to hear this music. I’m a bit torn between worlds myself.

  43. Dru says

    I love Shaun he is wonderful I loved his song All is Grace with Ann Voskamp. I love what he is doing with Compassion International and I would love love love to be included in this giveaway.

  44. says

    i was touched by his sincerity as i listened to his talk w/ ann~
    neat to see the man and his music match!

    good music, that’s also filled with TRUTH isn’t easy to find these days –
    i’m excited about this album. :)

  45. Bart says

    Thank you Emily for your writing and Shaun thank you for your music. Together they help me better understand that the bridge between the “worlds” is the same. That bridge is we all need God to “Come by Here”.

  46. says

    Hey there! I’ve missed your blog…I’ve been ‘away’ and homeless, not in any kind of real sense, only in the not-having-a-physical-place-to-call-my-own for more than a little while as we transition to long-term life overseas.

    I’ve been out of the loop with blog world and other things, but into the heart of the Gospel and Him and this sure seems like it would feed a weary soul longing for Jesus…His Grace anew and afresh and filling for the journey ahead.

    Bless you sister in all that’s going on in these days…Abby:}

    {sorry about the cancer. I don’t know who in your family it was, but I am so sorry. It is terrible and penetrates our deep and leaves our souls, hearts, selves longing for another world…we die with the one the brokenness of the world ravages and spends recklessly, die to what life looked like before this sickness came so close and He takes us on a journey of living between this world and the sickness~free Home we are bound for eternally…prayers and love for this too}

  47. says

    For sure I’d love to win! But I already bought two, so I’d have to find a friend to share it with. I’m fairly certain that won’t be hard at all. :)

  48. says

    Hi Emily. Thanks for your words and speaking about Shaun’s work. I love what he is all about. I’d love to get my hands on his CD so I can continue to talk up his work and music on my site as well…I love to do that and help others find out about good music and the goings-on. Thanks for all you do! Julie

  49. Lisa Dawn says

    I went on a mission trip to Manila this summer and I saw kids living in the most desperate situations I had ever seen. Yet, they were still so full of joy and hope. It spoke of what an amazing God we serve. I would love to win the cd!

  50. Rachel W says

    Love the CD and the story behind it. I’ve purchased one for myself and one to give as a gift. Would love to share another one if given the chance!

  51. says

    wow. i read those lyrics and i’m not sure if my jaw hit the floor but my brain definitely said, “wow.”

    such a gifted man and to share this with us? thankful.

    • says

      ummm…i left my first comment before i watched the video.

      floored. i now see why it’s your favorite song. i thought all is grace was gonna be my fave. maybe not.

      (and if this messes up the chances for people to win a cd, feel free to delete.) i just really had to say…floored.

  52. Shelia B says

    Oh Emily – I am in tears reading this. My heart has just been split and like a well, heartache, love, grief spill through. I just got your book in the mail yesterday evening and cannot wait to begin. Your words capture my heart and mind and I am thrilled to read more in paperback form.
    Thank you….

  53. says

    Wow! Yes I would absolutely love this CD…do you know that I saw Shaun Groves years ago at a youth pastor’s conference and heard him sing “Twilight” …which has been my favorite song ever since…still in my CD player to this day (yes, I still have a CD player)!! And now I get to see him unite with my favorite writer and my lovely bloggy friends…how exciting!!

  54. says

    I just recently found Shaun and his music. I am truly enjoying it! The music is beautiful, the lyrics are poignant, and they come together to create deep, meaningful worship. My favorite soul quenching things all in one package. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  55. Joy Manoleros says

    The passion and relevance of this project tickles me to my toes. Thank you, Shaun, for being a forerunner to so many! I’d love to have a copy! <3

  56. alicia young says

    I do I do! I love Shaun’s music and have admired his work with compassion. thanks so much for the chance to win!!!

  57. Patricia says

    Beautifully done ~ thank you Shaun ~ I have ordered 3 CD’s already ~ please exclude me in the contest ~ you are blessing many with this CD……can’t wait to get in the mail!

  58. Jason Hardin says

    Shaun, you never cease to amaze me at your level of devotion to God. I have three of your albums and love every song on them. I find them very inspiring and when I hear you talk about your devotion and read your posts, I am inspired all the more. You are being used by God to bring me closer to him. Thank you.

  59. Darrell says

    Shaun, thanks for making this music. I recently came back from my second trip to Zimbabwe. I was especially struck but one of the lines from your video – “It is good music (speaking of American music) but, it hasn’t been where we’ve been.” The faith I witnessed is Zimbabwe is so simple, so truthful, so all-encompassing. I long for a faith like that. Having been there, I can understand, at least a very little, just what he meant because I truly haven’t been where he’s been.

  60. Nicole Rethmeier says

    Hey! I think its awesome the direction your ministry has taken. I’ve been a fan since invitation to eavesdrop, and love the heart you have for the Lord & how that translates into loving people! God bless your ministry.

  61. Jenni Atkins says

    inspired and moved by both of you and the gifts God has given each of you. thanks for being faithful and authentic – thanks for allowing Him to use you in such powerful ways! would love to win a cd but if i don’t will probably buy it anyways! (along with your book emily!) :) hugs!

  62. Nicki says

    I have yet to be blessed with the gift of travel like this to see with my own eyes the others blessed by Compassion and yet am blessed enough to ride in your back pocket for this journey. Songs to connect the two and share the love that is freely given from our Father…nothing better.
    Thank you for the opportunity to enjoy these great things.
    Deo Volente

  63. says

    beautiful. what a great idea to do a blog-tour. loved the words he spoke about you, specifically, emily– cuz i’m sure he wasn’t exaggerating. thanks for being humble and authentic.

  64. Amy Malskeit says

    I also would love to win a copy–want to give it to my reluctant songwriting sis.

    And yay for your release! Congratulations!


  65. says

    Oh, this is just beautifully written and echoes Shaun’s heart and message so well. I purchased the album from itunes as soon as it released, but I can think of several people I’d love to share the CD with!!

  66. says

    This man worships through the way the stories of his own life are sung out of his heart. I’ve experienced a bit more freedom and grace for myself as I’ve listened to Shaun’s music…and your words, Emily.

  67. says

    I don’t know how I missed this post when I checked in earlier this weekend, but thank you for it because it reminded me that I still have to watch that video of Ann and Shaun talking about All’s Grace. As always, your words have blessed my heart.

  68. Tessa says

    I have struggled so much with this too … burdened by the needs of this world and the abundance in my home. Thanks for sharing your heart with us!

  69. Jenny B says

    I happened across your blog and felt like I was listening to someone speak my own heart. Thank you for sharing your heart with us and thank you for sharing this giveaway as well.

  70. says

    I got this CD hot off the press, Emily, though I can think of many who so need to immerse themselves in these words. This album released the day after my mom fell because of what we discovered was an aggressive brain tumor. I’d play it full blast while I drove the three hours back and forth before I finally moved into the hospice home with her. It made all my emotions bubble to the surface, and I’d just cry and cry in that car. The songs carried me, Jesus held me, and I will be playing it full blast again as I remember those months and before I travel to Haiti in December. I expect I’m going to need a lot of tissue. This is a beautiful review.

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