News Articles

4HIM, Jaci Velasquez perform Christian music as ‘call from God’

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP)–What keeps Christian musicians motivated as they spend weeks on the road, performing concerts in city after city? According to the members of 4HIM, the answer is obvious: It’s a clear call from God.
“The thing that keeps us glued together is the Lord calling us together as 4HIM,” explained Mark Harris, who writes many of the songs recorded by the popular group.
“It’s clear that God assembled the four of us at the right time in the right place,” he noted. Although the group’s four vocalists “are continually going through changes,” he added, “The one thing that stays the same is God’s calling. In each of our hearts, we know God has called us to be here.”
4HIM, a three-time winner of the Dove Award for group of the year, has produced seven albums, 17 No. 1 contemporary Christian songs and a book released earlier this year called The Basics of Life. The group recently was in concert at Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock along with Jaci Velasquez, winner of the 1997 Dove Award for new artist of the year.
Performing together as 4HIM since 1990, Andy Chrisman said the group seeks to present a straightforward Christian message. “Some people think if you come on too strong, you’re going to scare people away,” he acknowledged. “We’re four church boys. It’s natural for us to express the way we feel without pulling any punches.”
Kirk Sullivan said one of 4HIM’s primary goals is to blend good music with a strong Christian message. Emphasizing “good music doesn’t change lives by itself,” he added, “The secular music industry doesn’t copy what we do. Why should we copy what they do?”
“If you get too artistic, people focus on the art rather than the One who gave the art,” pointed out Marty Magehee. “We try to pursue the excellence of the art, yet provide something to quench the thirst and feed the soul.”
Prior to forming 4HIM, the four sang together as part of Truth. After more than a decade of traveling and ministering together, Sullivan said one of the keys to the group’s success has been “learning how to communicate with each other.”
“The lines of communication have to be open,” he explained, particularly as the four seek to determine God’s will for the future. “We’re at a crossroads right now,” Sullivan explained. “We’re waiting and praying for direction right now.”
“We continue to want the best for 4HIM,” Chrisman remarked. “That’s a constant search. As we do the things he has for us to do, he gives us more things to do.”
With a new album, appropriately titled “Obvious,” and a current 41-city concert tour, Chrisman said one question the group constantly faces is: “Is it worth it?”
Without hesitation, he quickly added, “A definite yes. That’s where the calling comes in. When God continues to bless you, that’s something that can never be replaced.”
As 4HIM took the stage at Park Hill Church before a packed concert crowd, fans enthusiastically responded as Andy, Kirk, Mark and Marty performed such hits as “Measure of a Man,” “Land of Mercy” and “The Basics of Life.”
Moving toward the real reason that 4HIM travels, sings and record new albums year after year, Harris asked the crowd, “Where would you be tonight if someone had not told you about God’s love?”
“Every time you try to do it on your own, it will fall so far short of the plans God has for you,” he emphasized. “The only way you’ll ever be happy is to allow Jesus Christ to take your life and make it what he wants it to be. The only way you will ever be content is when you completely surrender everything to Jesus Christ.
“If your life isn’t completely centered around Jesus Christ, then it’s centered around the wrong things,” Harris concluded. “When you give your heart to Jesus Christ, then and there life begins.”
Accompanying 4HIM on their current tour, teen singing sensation Jaci Velasquez performed several songs, including her trademark hit, “On My Knees.”
Velasquez, who turned 19 last month, recorded her first album at age 16. The album, “Heavenly Place,” was recognized as Christian music’s fastest-selling debut album by a solo artist. Her current album, simply titled “Jaci Velasquez,” has been described in reviews as “good pop music sung by one of the best vocalists around.”
How does Velasquez cope with the pressure and hype of being an award-winning Christian performer? Traveling and singing with her family since age 9, she explained, “It’s the only thing I’ve ever known. I wouldn’t know life without this.”
Her mother, Diane, who travels with her, added, “As a mom, I try to help her keep focused. We spend time in prayer and the Word. It’s a group effort.
“This is our life. To us this is normal,” her mom continued. “Sometimes it’s a little scary because the responsibility has grown. My prayer is for God to give her physical and spiritual energy. It’s scary but it’s also very gratifying. So many lives are being touched and changed.”
Velasquez said her personal goal is to share “a message of hope, a message that there is someone out there who loves everyone despite who they are — a message of hope that God loves the world.”
Noting she desires to “reach out to the non-believers and those who feel discouraged in their walk,” she said she also shares “a message of sexual purity” and “how important family is.”
Acknowledging “spiritually, I’ve had to mature a lot more” in her high-profile ministry opportunities, Velasquez added, “You try to make sure you don’t do anything wrong. You have to constantly live above reproach.”
As she moves into adulthood, Velasquez said she anticipates continuing “to minister to the people around my same age.”
Noting some of her ministry goals include recording an album in Spanish and starting a Spanish-language radio station in Nashville, Tenn., she said “the coolest thing I’ve done so far” is to sing during a Billy Graham crusade.
Looking toward the future of contemporary Christian music — a future she is sure to be a vital part of — Velasquez said, “I’m pleased with the direction it’s heading. I wish we could draw more non-Christians. We have to figure out some ways of doing that.”

    About the Author

  • Trennis Henderson

    Trennis Henderson is the national correspondent for WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union). A Baptist journalist for more than 35 years, Henderson is a former editor of the Western Recorder of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Arkansas Baptist News state convention newsjournal.

    Read All by Trennis Henderson ›