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.