Hillsong: Let Hope Rise

Joyce and I just got to see an advance screening of Hillsong - Let Hope Rise, a film about the Australian band Hillsong United, that is as much worship service as it is documentary.

It follows the four months before the band's grandest engagement to date, at the Los Angeles Forum. Members push themselves to write a whole new album (Empires), and some of the songs are being finished within an hour of the concert. There's one moment where Joel Houston, son of the lead pastors of Hillsong Church in Sydney, says there's a spark from the Lord, but then He expects us to do some work to finish the assignment. That really resonated with me as a performing artist, currently working on a project. Another point of connection is that the band members rely on their pastors to greenlight their lyrics, making certain that everything is in alignment with the Word of God. I've always submitted my plays to that process as well.

I attended this church service in the
Manila stadium featured in 
Let Hope Rise
The band was formed when members were still in the Hillsong youth group. They've now toured all over the world. One of the venues was a stadium in Manila, where I was a part of a church service on the heels of the Beijing Olympics. At one point they show clips of people worshiping to their hit "Mighty to Save" from all over the planet in various languages, including sign language. They estimate 50 million people worship the Lord to their songs on a weekly basis.

Another moment that struck me was when one of the artists said something about band members wanting to do their best so that people could focus on them just long enough to be directed to the Lord. Beautiful! That's certainly been my heart for the work the Lord's given me for 21 years.

The movie does a great job of showing how life in the Lord allows the pastor and band members to make sense of the rain that falls on the just and the unjust: a baby born with two holes in his heart, a sister committing suicide, a father abusing a friend. These heartbreaking stories are paired with lyrics like:

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Though Hillsong United performs for tens of thousands at each concert, members point out that they're all on ministry salaries and are purposeful about staying connected to the needs of those who come to their concerts.

As a Compassion artist I was overjoyed to see that the band and church have helped 40,000 children find sponsors! Some of their visits with children were reminiscent of trips Joyce and I have taken to see the great work Compassion is doing around the world.

My favorite part of the Hillsong -- Let Hope Rise experience is that the producers included the lyrics to the songs the band is singing, inviting the movie audience into worship.

I was moved on many levels.

The movie experience opens in theatres nationwide September 16. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity to invite someone who needs Hope to a theatre.

I play a lead in Providence, which you can bring to your area.

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