Jars of Clay Visits Persecuted Christians in China / Vietnam
Band to Give Voice to 200 Million Persecuted Christians
From Rick Hoganson
(Nashville, Tenn.) June 20, 2000 -The multi-platinum selling Grammy and Dove Award winning band Jars of Clay recently returned from a trip to China and Vietnam with Prayer for the Persecuted Church (PPC). Traveling in coordination with Open Doors and The Voice of the Martyrs, band members discreetly met with several indigenous underground churches and church leaders, including Pastor Li Dexian, who has been arrested 14 times since last October for his ministry in China.
According to an official United States State Department report (1997), Christians in over 60 countries face the reality of massacre, rape, torture, mutilation, family division, harassment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death. After being moved by the plight of some 200 million Christians who face the very real threat of violence for their faith, Jars of Clay members chose to take the trip with PPC to experience this religious intolerance first-hand.
What Jars of Clay members discovered were church workers who face tremendous hardship for their faith. In both countries visited, band members also witnessed a thriving Church whose members actively live out their faith despite the intense hardships of government interference and social marginalization.
Deeply moved by the level of faith they found in the various groups they met, Jars of Clay member Dan Haseltine said, "I have often crossed paths with the vague concept of joy in suffering, but this trip has opened our eyes and hearts to the greater picture of the body of Christ and a tangible expression of God's gift of joy and laughter in the midst of pain and persecution."
Although not intending to perform, Jars of Clay members were prompted by their guest hosts at several house churches in both countries to sing. Jars of Clay honored the requests and performed a cappella "The Road," which is a song from the soon to be released recording, City On A Hill - Songs Of Worship And Praise. "This was the first time that we understood that this song was written for the world; a benediction for the world," noted Haseltine.
Upon returning from the trip, PPC has plans now underway to create a special video of "The Road." Plans include incorporating raw footage of the band performing the song in one of those house churches, as well as footage from a video shoot to take place next week in the U.S.
PPC chairman Steve Haas, who traveled with the band, said, "Here you have four of the leading contemporary Christian artists who are giving you seven days to better understand the needs and the concerns of the Persecuted Church in two of the most critical areas that defines the Persecuted Church. China, in fact, is a watch country for the commission on religious freedom within our own state department. This is the seriousness with which even our U.S. government is attaching to this issue.
"Jars' going to listen to the persecuted church is all about a group of men that understands that there are some 200 million of our brothers and sisters who don't have a voice," continues Haas. "Jars of Clay has a voice. It's about perhaps even sacrificing some of their popularity so those without a voice can have one. This is not about a business deal, this is about doing everyday faith."
Putting that faith into action, Jars of Clay plans to highlight those who suffer for their faith at upcoming concert appearances. This summer Jars of Clay will headline numerous festivals. In the fall the band headlines the highly anticipated fall tour featuring Jennifer Knapp and Luna Halo. During the concerts the band plans to dedicate the song, "The Road," to the Persecuted Church. A full tour itinerary may be found at www.jarsofclay.com and www.ifileftthezoo.com.
Prayer for the Persecuted Church, based in Englewood, Colorado, directs the United States observance of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. In 1999, 300,000 churches in over 130 countries took part in the day of prayer, making it the largest prayer day event in the world. The 2000 International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church will be celebrated around the world November 12. PPC seeks to awaken followers of Christ and concerned others to the plight of persecuted Christians, calling the Church to compassionate prayer and action. For more information, consult the PPC website at www.persecutedchurch.org.
The current recording from Jars of Clay, If I Left the Zoo, was produced by Dennis Herring (Counting Crows) and has garnered the band two No. 1 radio singles, "Collide" and "Unforgetful You" (CRR/CCM Update). The latter earned the band a Dove Award this year for Modern Rock/Alternative Song of the Year.
With 18 career Gospel Music Association Dove nominations and 12 No. 1 songs in just five years, Jars of Clay is best known for its hugely successful radio single, "Flood," from its 1995 self-titled and RIAA certified double-platinum debut. The band's sophomore platinum-selling recording, Much Afraid, debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard Top 200 album sales chart and received a Grammy Award for "Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year." Jars of Clay compositions have been featured in such major studio film release soundtracks as The Long Kiss Goodnight, Hard Rain, Jack Frost and The Prince of Egypt. The group's music has further appeared in several television series, including "Providence" (NBC) and "One Life To Live" (ABC).
For more information, contact:
Hoganson Media Relations