When Jars of Clay and Caedmon’s Call come to Liberty University April 5, they’ll bring their instruments, voices, newly released CDs, and their humanitarian causes. Musical groups — Christian and secular alike — often adopt charitable causes, sharing them with their audiences as they perform at venues around the world.
Caedmon’s Call is a spokesgroup for Compassion International, a child sponsorship program, while Jars of Clay is involved with AIDS and famine-relief organizations. Adopting humanitarian endeavors gives Christian groups the opportunity to be the “hands and feet of Christ,” said Brian Sumner of Spirit FM, a local Christian radio station. “All the Christian concerts I’ve been involved in have some type of ministry tie-in … causes that artists are passionate about and a way for the artists to tie-in their music with ministry.” Caedmon’s Call has been linked with Compassion International for four years, supporting it financially and spreading its message on stage. All seven band members sponsor children through the group.
“It’s an amazing organization,” drummer Todd Bragg said about Compassion International, which was founded 50 years ago. “The cool thing about Compassion is they’re very focused on getting you to correspond with these children (and) on meeting the specific needs of the children, not just giving them money,” said Bragg, who, along with his wife, has sponsored a Haitian girl for three years.
Caedmon’s Call also supports Peace Gospel Ministries, a foreign Christian ministry in India, donating proceeds from its fan club, The Guild. The band’s financial support has helped build 20 churches in the past eight years, Bragg said. “It’s a really cool thing to kind of see it grow over the years,” he said. “We’re in front of thousands of people on a regular basis. It’s a great medium to communicate (these causes).”
While Caedmon’s Call promotes child sponsorship and church building in India, Jars of Clay focuses on several causes: African Leadership, World Vision, Amnesty International, Open Doors International with Brother Andrew, missions in China and the Zeldin Cancer Research Foundation.
The band is also affiliated with DATA (Debt, AIDS and Trade for Africa), an awareness group founded by Bono, frontman of Irish band U2. Although Bono’s DATA project can be very political, Jars of Clay’s involvement isn’t based on politics: Band members simply want to raise awareness about the AIDS crisis in Africa.
Lead vocalist Dan Haseltine spent 10 days in Africa last October, meeting the people and putting a human face on the AIDS epidemic. He wanted to put aside all the mind-boggling statistics and focus in on one person suffering from the disease. “That’s when it became personal, something I could invest in,” he said. And, Haseltine said, it’s an issue the church should invest in as well. Most churches don’t talk about HIV/AIDS, treating it as a “homosexual disease.” Some even think people with the disease are simply reaping the results of their actions, Haseltine said. “Only 3 percent of evangelicals are willing to help with this issue,” he said. “At this point it really looks like the church doesn’t care. That’s just the wrong position for the church to take.”