Rock N Roll Missions – Kingsdown
I first met Dwain Roark, Jr. just over 10 years ago. At that time, Kingsdown was barely more than a blip on the radar of the local music scene in a small Arkansas town. I had the opportunity in those early years to spend some time on the road with the guys, including part of their first “coast to coast” tour.
Since then, nearly a decade has gone by and the guys in Kingsdown have performed in front of thousands of people on stages all over the United States and six other countries. One of the struggles I’ve seen them work through is how to continue to be a Christian influence in a music world that is quick to write off bands who come across as “preachy” or “holier than thou.”
I’ve asked Dwain to share with you his perspective as lead singer, and how he sees his band as a ministry in a missions field we wouldn’t expect.
Thanks Dwain for sharing, love you brother.
It’s the night before I need to turn in this blog entry to my dear friends Eric and Bethany. I have found myself procrastinating, just like I would writing papers in college. I thought to myself, “Maybe something magical and divine will come to me and the words will flow perfectly if I wait! Maybe, just maybe, my story can really change someone’s life.”
Spoken like a guy in a rock-n-roll band.
I catch myself thinking these thoughts on stage. “Wow, look at me! Look what I am doing! These people love me!” And then, I am brought down. The truth is, I’m just another guy. I don’t have much money. Turns out, despite what the world would have you believe, there is not a lot of money to be had for the vast majority of people in the music business.
And truth be told, if we were in this for the money, we would have quit a long time ago.
My band, Kingsdown, started playing in 2002. Eleven years later, a few of us are still going strong. People ask me sometimes, “Do you ever lose sight of the reasons you do what you do?” The very clear answer to that question is: Yes. Absolutely I do. We do.
We are human. It’s easy to get caught up in the recordings and song writing, what agencies we need to shop to, what labels are looking for these days, etc. When it really comes to down to it, we are in this thing for one reason and one reason alone: to spread love, hope, and joy. We believe this comes from Jesus Christ. We believe He was the ultimate example of this. We believe He was this.
Life On The Road
It’s hard being away from my wife and my daughter.
It’s hard being away from my other family.
It’s hard not knowing where you are going to sleep at night between gigs.
It’s hard waking up in a new city (or in the middle of nowhere) every morning.
It’s hard not knowing how we are going to cover all the expenses it costs to tour. Countless times we have left on a tour and agreed to things long before we had the money to do so.
And, let’s be real: four, five.. sometimes even seven guys sleeping in a van is not very comfortable at all.
A measure of faith is required in all missions. We were never told it would be easy. From my experiences, most great things are not. It’s a fact of life that trials and tribulations will present themselves no matter how you choose to live your life.
It’s All About Relationships
From a ministry perspective, being in Kingsdown is interesting. I don’t want to compare it to going into a country where Christianity is frowned upon, but sometimes it feels that way.
We find ourselves in churches, bars, clubs, skate parks, festivals.. really anywhere there’s people that will hear our music.
We play music on Little Rock’s biggest secular radio station, yet also have singles on Christian rock stations around the globe.
We have opened for all kinds of bands, from Jeremy Camp to Poison.
I only say this to let you know the diverse crowd of people we play to. It’s an honest struggle to know exactly how to be a light and witness to these people without being preachy. We aren’t preachers and we don’t desire to be. Thank God other people have that calling, as we do not.
Throughout our career we have played in over forty states and seven countries. We have seen so many lives changed around the world. I don’t attribute these changes to us or anything we do. I only hope and pray that when we play for people that they will see the source of all of this. If they don’t see it clearly, I hope the people hearing our music will reach out, dig deeper, and ask us what a lyric means or why we do what we do.
It’s in these personal moments with people we truly get to see God at work. It’s where we see change and results. Honestly, even more, it’s when we are blessed ten times more than we bless. We are ministered to everywhere we go by talking to people and hearing their stories.
Hearing the heart of a boy sipping vodka in Ukraine or the girl who has fought many diseases to stay alive is a blessing to us. I might add that the Ukrainian boy earns an average of $200 U.S. Dollars a month and the girl fighting for her life, well, she is fighting for her life. Despite these obstacles, both seem to be more positive than we are.
Encounters like these, my friends, change who we are and how see the world. I believe it allows us to love deeper and fuller. To see the world through new eyes. It’s same old ground that we keep walking on, but a whole new meaning. Relationships with people are beyond powerful. For us, this band is about relationships. It really is. And each one of these relationships are completely unique.
Often times I feel we are put on a pedestal in much the same way pastors or worship leaders can be. I wonder why this is. The view that a pastor is more “Christian” than a chef is extremely flawed. The view that our band or a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is equally false.
There are many different callings and purposes that demonstrate the sovereignty of our God and his ability to use our imperfection. Truth be told, I’m certainly not a perfect person. In fact, if you all knew everything I have done in my life, you would stop reading this now.
I hope that someday we can all be stripped down and real with each other. I long for the day brothers and sisters don’t have to hide hurts and pains from their church peers because they fear being judged.
The “Sunday Best” has got to change. I believe it will. I look to a time when people can walk into their community of brothers and sisters and just be real. To walk in and say, “Alright, let’s talk about the hard stuff.” This is happening in places around the world. It must. Community is a powerful thing. I believe, now more than ever, it’s necessary.
What about our songs?
People may judge us for not specifically putting His name in every Kingsdown song. I believe when it all comes down to it, our songs are just songs. They are part of our lives, and cover ideas ranging from our deep core beliefs in God to being happy or sad about love, or trials and temptations we go through as a band, and as individuals.
I believe the scriptures show that God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken, the oppressed and the hungry, the business man who is filled with rage, or the girl who is going “dancing” at a club to pay for her college education.
How do I treat the people I encounter in my day to day life? How do we treat them? How do you treat them? What are we doing to love these people? Ultimately, they are souls who are on a journey just like you and just like me. I am them, and they are me.
Ultimately, this is what it’s about: loving God, loving people, and being a vessel for the love of Christ to those around us.
Many Parts, One Body
We all have different callings. We attempt to be obedient to who we are called to be as a band and as individuals. Let me add again, that we fail miserably every single day. As Christians, we have a call to take up our cross and follow. One thing that is guaranteed is that these roads will all be different. They will all be difficult, they will all be unique, and they will all be beautiful.
We are all functioning parts of this body. Please, please, be slow to judge your brothers and sisters who have different callings. I wish you all a safe and exciting journey filled with Love, Hope and Peace. Keep spreading.
“We, who have accepted Jesus as Lord, are all missionaries! Each of us may not be living abroad or leading mission trips as a career, but the truth is, everyone can be a missionary. This blog series will span across multiple blogs from our PPM Mission Coordinators and Advocates and will serve to showcase people who are living daily with a missional mindset. We will be giving a voice to a barista, who shares the love of Christ through espresso shots each morning. We will be the platform for a tired mom next door to share how she impacts her child’s friends when they come over for a sleepover. We will be the helping hand to a Pastor who wants to encourage his congregation to get involved. The school teacher who invests in his students and wants to see them succeed and know Christ. The janitor who humbly and lovingly listens to his co-workers as they vent and confess their sins to him. We pray these stories will encourage and challenge us all to live our lives as missionaries everyday, in our own unique mission fields!”