It was not long after I had come back from playing an outreach with Real Time (Mark de Jong – bass, Chris de Jong – keys, Libby Huirua – backing vocals, Scott Simpson – guitars, Mike Yates – drums). They’re old friends of mine (an amazing thing given some of the antics we pulled while playing), and they’re also pretty amazing musicians.
Anyway… I found myself on a dock in Wellington, standing on the deck of a huge ship that was visiting little old New Zealand. I was feeling very out of place in my rock-ripped Levi’s and my loud pink fluoro shirt hearing about how crazy Christian volunteers aboard the Mercy Ships boat MV Anastasis were sailing the world helping heal and care for the poor everywhere they went.
Now I’m probably not unique in saying that I felt quite inadequate standing next to such amazing people who were doing something that really mattered with their lives and not swaggering about on stage like me. I stood at the helm of hope and whispered quietly what I was thinking to God “…but what can I do? I’m not a doctor or a nurse – I’m just a musician …”.
The ship’s tour ended and I headed off into the wailing Wellington darkness wrapping my doubts around me, and putting Mercy Ships behind me, to carry on with my dreams of singing and writing songs.
It was around 30 years later that I was buzzing in a caffeinated up-town Auckland cafe drinking a double-shot flat white with my wife’s old friends Graeme and Sharon who now ran Mercy Ships New Zealand. We were talking about the incredible things people like them were doing in Mercy Ships – the nurses and doctors and volunteers – helping the poor and making a difference that mattered when they asked “We’d really love your help with Mercy Ships”.
“Sure I said …” thinking of giving some money to support these heroes of hope when they came right back at me – “Would you be our first NZ Musical Ambassador and represent Mercy Ships as a musician?”
I was shocked as the words I’d spoken 30 years ago exploded in my heart and boomed through my brain: “… what can I do? I’m not a doctor or nurse – I’m just a musician …”.
I have to say this “cool rock star” was overcome and I stumbled over my response for what seemed like, well almost 30 years, … before I finally blurted out “Absolutely!”.
It was one of those weird sublime humbling moments when you suddenly realise that God always listens to your heart’s cry, and despite decades drifting by, His response was to reach down through eternity – through the tunnels of time – to orchestrate an opportunity for you to make a difference that you thought could never come about. I couldn’t help but feel God’s love and His incredible opportunity synergising in my world.
So it was a serendipitous honour to then be asked by Mercy Ships NZ to write a song for them. I penned “Hope On My Horizon” because it’s what the forgotten poor see when Mercy Ships sails into port. But it also tells my story of how despite the long years and the ‘never-arriving’ whispered prayers of my heart, God doesn’t give up on us – walking every weary and disbelieving step with us He won’t forsake us.
The track is not even available for sale but as a special thank you for being one of my peeps I want to give you a live recording of it for free – no strings attached.
If you like the track you might also consider checking out the previews of my soon-to-be-released album of it’s namesake – Hope On My Horizon. It’s not available yet either but it’s full of rock anthems that I like to think will be sung by those, who like me, have waited and worked for their dreams to arrive, doing what they can with what they have now – just like those who have sailed and served and made Mercy Ships proud 🙂