Kevin Max’s newest project, BROKEN TEMPLES, will officially be released on March 10. I’ll be counting down the remaining days to the release of the album on this page with a post each day exploring and celebrating, in no particular order, some of his prior creative ventures.
2013 brought the announcement that Kevin Max would be teaming up with Mark Stuart and Will McGinniss to relaunch another legendary band in the history of contemporary Christian music, Audio Adrenaline, in order to build awareness and support for the band’s non-profit organization, The Hands & Feet Project. The Hands & Feet Project cares for about 100 orphaned and abandoned children at Children’s Villages in Jacmel and Grand Goave, Haiti.
The lead single and title track of the new album, “Kings & Queens,” not only made a huge impact on Christian radio (rising at #4 among Christian songs), but, it also fulfilled the band’s objective in bringing the plight of orphans and the beauty of the children of the Hands & Feet Project to the attention of the world and, in doing so, helped to propel the work of the organization forward in their mission to continue the fight against the orphan crisis in Haiti.
From the first “woa-oh” that can be heard at the beginning of the track to the final triumphant chorus, Max delivers a characteristically unique and powerful vocal to a song that will surely stand the test of time as an anthem for the Christian call to care for orphans of the world in their distress (James 1:27).
Read about what I get out of the music and poetry of Kevin Max and check out how you can get a digital download of the new project BROKEN TEMPLES (with two bonus tracks!) before the official March 10 release!
OTHER FEATURED SONGS IN THE KEVIN MAX RETROSPECTIVE:
In January 2014 I joined a short-term mission team to serve with The Hands & Feet Project in Grand Goave, Haiti. I’m headed back there, again, in July for another week and, because my wife has decided to jump in this time around, we’re having to dig deeper and reach out further for help to get there. So, yesterday I spent some time setting up a fundraising site that features a convenient link for kindhearted donors to contribute through and indicates the amount of money we still need to raise in order to make the trip.
It was during the process of putting the fundraising page together that I realized, upon typing the total amount of money that we have yet to come up with, that some people might question whether or not it is worth investing this amount of money into a week-long trip. Wouldn’t that amount of money better serve the needs of the people there if it was sent directly?
It’s a fair question and, after pondering it for myself in relation to my own experience there, my growing familiarity with the kids, mission staff, Haitian staff, and American staff of The Hands and Feet Project, I can state with confidence that your investment in our trip will not be wasted.
A significant percentage of the cost to make the trip benefits the work of The Hands & Feet Project directly. The Grand Goave Children’s Village of The Hands & Feet Project is still in the process of building and providing safe structures and buildings for the long-term American missionary staff, short-term mission teams, local Haitian staff and, most notably, the orphaned and abandoned children to live in. Measures are being taken to ensure that the new buildings are built to resist damage from natural disasters like the one that brought Haiti to its knees just five years ago. Donations that the Hands & Feet Project receives go directly toward providing, not just a safe place to live, but, also health care, a balanced diet, an education, and a staff to provide spiritual guidance.
Short-term mission teams bring various skills to provide manual, on-the-ground support and elbow grease to tackle projects ranging from construction and maintenance to recreational and educational activities for the kids that live there. In addition Hands & Feet Project mission teams engage with the local Grand Goave community by assisting with community outreach programs.
Mission teams coming to Haiti to serve are sent wish lists for supplies (ranging from toothpaste to tools and clothing), by the long-term Hands and Feet Project missionaries, a few weeks prior to their scheduled departure so that they can gather much-needed items and bring them to Haiti as part of their baggage. Because of Grand Goave’s rural location in a third world country where neither the U.S. Postal Service or UPS deliver, incoming short-term mission teams serve as a lifeline to the children and staff on the ground with The Hands & Feet Project in Haiti.
The Hands & Feet Project understands the importance of taking a responsible big-picture approach to addressing the orphan crisis in Haiti. The directors and long-term mission families that lead The Hands & Feet Project on the ground in Haiti have a deep knowledge and respect for the history and circumstances that have made Haiti the poorest country on the western half of the planet. They understand the importance of respecting the dignity of the people and they provide a means to prevent future children from being abandoned by providing sustainable employment through their new and developing Haiti Made initiative. In fact, this trip, for us, isn’t just a one-and-done effort. We sponsor two children that are a part of the Hands &
Feet Project family. This trip will allow me to build upon the relationship with Kettia that I started a year ago, and it will give Angela a chance to start hers. We truly desire to be like long-term family members to Kettia and the other children of the Hands & Feet Project and develop bonds that, though miles and time may separate us, prayer and return mission trips to serve at their Grand Goave Children’s Village, can grow for eternity in Jesus.
Last, but, certainly not least, your monetary support for our participation in this mission enables us to serve Jesus, himself, directly. James 1:27 states that, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress…” Jesus himself explained in Matthew 25:31-40:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I learned about and became involved with The Hands & Feet Project by walking through open doors that I had no plan or ability to open myself. Now my wife Angela is ready to step outside of her comfort zone, too, and I know that this trip is going to have as profound of an effect on her life as it has on mine and I truly believe that this trip will have a profound and positive effect on our marriage, too.
The work of The Hands & Feet Project and their vision to fight against the orphan crisis in Haiti are sound and sound and sure. Please help my wife and I to both walk through this open door and serve in the work of The Hands & Feet Project, bringing hope to the orphaned and abandoned in Haiti, together.
A video recap of my January trip to Haiti set to “Believer” by Audio Adrenaline. If you’ve read my posts about the trip, you might be interested in this. If not, take a gander anyway. The Hands & Feet Project is a phenomenal organization doing critical work.
One in a series of posts reflecting upon the week I spent on a short-term mission in Haiti with The Hands & Feet Project in January 2014. For Part 1 click here. For Part 2 click here. For Part 3 click here. For Part 4 click here. For an afterthought reflection about the topic of heroes in relation to addressing needs in the country of Haiti click here.
It didn’t take long once I first started taking an interest in the plight of people living in Haiti to realize that there are more than just one or two of my fellow Americans that think focusing on needs in Haiti is, at least, a case of misplaced attention. “We have poor people right here in North Carolina,” they might say. Indeed we do! In fact, in fourteen years of teaching in a public school I know all too well that there are plenty of families that live below the poverty line in the United States. In my classroom during any given school year and on any given day one can find a kid who gets free lunch based on coming from a low-income home working in the same cooperative group as a kid who only wears name brand clothes, has an iPhone, and gets picked up in the car rider line each afternoon by a parent driving a Lexus. Surely, there are people in need right here. But, after spending the last week in Haiti I can say with confidence that the gap between poor American citizens and the average Haitian family is huge! Regardless of what words I choose and how I decide to arrange them in an attempt to blog about just how serious the need is in Haiti, you will never truly understand just how big the gap is between how they live and how we live unless you are there to see it for yourself. At 80%, Haiti has the second highest percentage of residents living below the poverty line in the entire world. In the western hemisphere of the globe, no other country is poorer. In the United States only 12% of citizens live below the poverty line. The cause of such poor living conditions consists of a litany of variables ranging from generations of corrupt government and no public education or social services to natural disasters like 2010’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake.
Just over a year ago, though, knowledge or concern for the plight of Haitians was the farthest thing from my mind. What was on my mind was my dad’s battle with stage four glioblastoma brain cancer. Diagnosed in the fall of 2010, after surgeries, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy, he passed away in a hospice bed in his living room while I had my head on his chest and his lone surviving brother, my Uncle John, sat nearby. My dad had been my best friend. I always looked up to him and he always had time to listen. He was the best man in my wedding and, just a few years prior to his diagnosis, he’d moved south to North Carolina from upstate New York in order to be closer to my wife, my kids, and I and to help provide daycare for my son who was born in 2007. The kids were his pride and joy and it was clear that, after living a life in which he seemed to always get the short end of the stick, he’d finally found a patch of happiness.
After the diagnosis in 2010 he did his very best to “just keep putting one foot in front of the other,” as he would say, but, on February 20, 2012, during the only snow that winter, we lost him and, even though I had sixteen months to prepare, I’ve never experienced a darker period. But, as is often said, the darkest time is right before the dawn and, as the dust began to settle, I realized that I’d acquired an altered perspective on life in comparison to that which I had before. The thin, quiet, golden thread of faith that I’d clung to, even when it made no sense to do so, was still there and, for the first time, ever, my focus was crystal clear. My priorities were newly shifted and, in large part, thanks to a groundswell of support and compassion from friends and family, I realized that people and the relationships that connect us, are more precious than almost anything else we waste our time entertaining our restless minds with.
It was this new perspective that provided the fertile soil for several variables to be planted in, just right, and in a manner that I could’ve never imagined. A bible verse, James 1:27, to be exact, a connection made by a friend, some divine intervention, and the grace and compassion of God, flowing through The Hands & Feet Project director Mark Stuart, led to the idea of honoring my dad’s memory by naming the kitchen in a new building to be constructed on a mountain in Haiti. The new building on Ikondo is part of The Hands & Feet Project’s plan to provide a facility for older boys who were starting to age out from their program to live and learn vocational trade skills to prepare them for productive lives living as adults in Haiti. While talking on the phone with Mark, immediately after receiving his e-mail delivering the idea of honoring my dad, he suggested that, “Maybe you can come down to see it sometime?” In my head, at the time, it was a ridiculous idea. Yeah, like I’m just going to get up and fly to a third-world country. I soon realized, though, that my perspective wasn’t done evolving.
It was toward the beginning of my week in Haiti, Monday or Tuesday evening, I think, when I was taking my day’s end cold shower (hot water was not on the list of available amenities at Ikondo) and I heard my teammate James telling me to hurry up and to come out to the back patio. When I did I found Angie Sutton, one of the site directors, along with James, Marian, and a local Haitian artist who presented me with a hand-made wooden plaque that said, “Grandpa Rockwell’s Kitchen.” I was deeply touched by the Suttons’ sentiment. They’d contacted him a week or so before to make it. I gave him a sincere hug of gratitude for his fine craftsmanship, we took some photos and, before week’s end, we hung it up temporarily for photos in the room the guys on the team had been sleeping in which will eventually be “Grandpa Rockwell’s Kitchen.”
Once construction is complete at Ikondo, the kitchen will be right next to a breezeway in the two-story structure which will serve as the main eating area at Ikondo. From the doorway of “Grandpa Rockwell’s Kitchen you’ll be able to look to the left through the breezeway to see the ocean on the northern coast of Haiti, and then to the right where you’ll see beautiful Haitian mountains.
My dad was a hard-working, practical guy who grew up on a farm, served as a baker in the Air Force, loved spending time in the kitchen, and, during his years in North Carolina, would often pick me up early in the morning on Saturdays so that we could serve breakfast at the homeless shelter in Salisbury. My son and daughter, the main reasons he made the move south from upstate New York where he’d spent his entire life up to that point, were the joy of his life.
As I told my wife, it’s very possible that, for years to come, visiting missionaries (another purpose of Ikondo is to house mission teams) will wonder why there’s a kitchen on a mountain in Haiti named after “Grandpa Rockwell.” They might not all get the full story, but, I know he would be proud of the idea of his name being associated with a kitchen (his favorite room in our house) in a building where hard-working kids will have the opportunity to learn practical hands-on skills in order to make a living.
My family will forever be grateful to Kevin Max for putting me in touch with The Hands & Feet Project and to Mark Stuart and all involved with the organization for the work they do. Sincere gratitude for the burden-lightening gift of honoring my dad with “Grandpa Rockwell’s Kitchen” was surely the spark that lit the fuse leading to my first trip to Haiti. However, the experiences I had being in the Hands & Feet Children’s Village serving and spending time with the children growing up in such a desperate country, but, thanks to The Hands & Feet Project, doing so with hopes and dreams, will be the undying fuel that will keep me doing everything I can to continue supporting them and, God-willing, return to Grand Goave, Haiti in 2015.
My heart has been broken and my joy now soars higher than I ever thought it could before. All of my senses have been heightened on account of the trip and I am thankful for the opportunity. I have plenty of room to grow, but, I will continue to offer what I have. Christ has, indeed, given me abundant life and he will do the same for you if you open yourself up to Him.
Part 3 coming soon…