Although you guys are the new kids on the block with Come&Live!, you’ve been around for awhile now, haven’t you? Tell us about how you got started.
Cool, so we started the ministry Make Jesus Known ten years ago, and I guess the name says it all. It was our heart to make Jesus known to people who don’t know Him. We just went out in the streets of Manchester, and did some rapping and DJing, and we thought, “Is anyone gonna listen to us? Are they gonna egg us, or throw bottles at us?” But we actually drew a crowd, and we started talking to people about Jesus—and people didn’t run off! They’d all stay listening, and we’d offer copies of the Gospels. It was kind of like a rugby scrum or an American football scrum, with everyone running forward to get a Gospel. We were like, “What is happening? This is in England! What’s going on?!” So, I guess we realized we were on to something, and we kept using the same style, doing this kind of music out on the streets.
Then we rebranded the band as a separate entity called “CrossFya” about five years ago, because it just got confusing as the ministry grew. Now we travel all across Europe, doing schools, concerts, prisons, street shows—wherever we can, really, because the music is working to connect with young people and to share the Gospel with them. We love it!
You guys have a really interesting thing that you do when you perform, as a way to follow up. Can you tell our community about the iTruth app?
That developed because we were initially giving out these Gospels. Then we did a DVD with 14 short films, called iTruth, and the next step was to create the iTruth app. It’s great because you can constantly update it, and keep in touch with people, and they can keep in touch with you. So, we have our music on there, and loads of other artists’ music on there that we’ve worked with. Plus, the main content is these videos— the short films. They take you through three stages.
The first one is to discover who Jesus is, explaining what the Gospel is, and what it meant when you responded at this event. The next stage is “How do you follow Jesus?” which is basically about how to read the bible and pray, plus things like how to deal with pornography if you’re a Christian. Then the last stage is “Share Jesus,” and it explains how to share Jesus with your friends.
Initially, it was just for people who’d responded at our concerts. We’d give them a lanyard that had the iTruth logo on it and said, “You responded and you’re part of the team now, so download this app!” But because it has those different stages, in terms of discipleship and how to evangelize, we found that youth groups, churches, and individuals all use it, too.
We’re really keen to say to the other Come&Live! artist that, if they can use iTruth as a resource, then just use it. If they want the lanyards that go with it, just tell us how many they want, and we’ll mail them to them. There might be an opportunity with some of the other artists to do some filming with them to go on the app, and we could also put their music on it. For us, it’s a win-win for the people who respond.
On your website, it says that over the past few years, you’ve played for over 250,000 people, and have seen thousands say yes to Jesus. That’s pretty amazing! Can you share something about how God’s been using you recently?
Well, the Gospel is powerful, and it works! If you share it in a relevant way, you don’t have to water it down—people will respond to Jesus. The Gospel is bearing fruit all around the world. People are open to it, they are hungry for it!
Two weeks ago, we were in a school in the UK, and about 150 young people came to the concert. About 80 of them responded publicly to the message, prayed with us, and we connected them with iTruth. Then we follow them up with something called the Faith Gang Group. All the time, we’re telling them they are part of God’s “Faith Gang,” which is basically the church. About 30 teenagers showed up to that Faith Gang group, and one of our guys, Nana, went to the first meeting. Then they had the same number turn up for it the next week. Which for me is great!
As artists, you can always see the emotion of the event—people will put their hands up, but then is there follow-up? Often as evangelists, we’re happy to just say, “Hundreds got saved! Thousands got saved!” whereas, as a band, we’re always like, “Yeah, but what’s the next step?” Paul said that he spiritually fathered people who responded, and as artists, we feel like we have spiritually fathered these people, and we have a responsibility. So, that’s why we’ve developed iTruth, and started these Faith Gang Groups. Obviously, we also use social media - Insta, Facebook - to try to connect with them individually, as well.
I could see that really working in the UK, but how has that been for you in countries you guys often go to like Poland and Ukraine? Are you seeing the same results in terms of follow-up?
Actually, the further east we go, the more you have “older teenagers.” In England, it’s really hard. Once they get to 15-16, it’s like they’re “too cool for school,” and it’s hard to engage with them. In Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, and Lithuania, we’re reaching 17-20 year olds, and sometimes seeing higher rates of response.
In Ukraine, if there are 900 students in the schools, 600 will come to the gig and 450 will respond, which is incredible! But you’re right, sometimes the frustrating part is the follow-up. We try to go and meet with our local church partner beforehand, and tell them that if we’re going to work with them, they’ll need to start something afterwards - a meeting in a cafe or a neutral venue. Sometimes it works, but sometimes they say they’ll do it, and then you get there, and they’ve changed their minds and they don’t, which is incredibly frustrating!
Last June, you were on tour with No Longer Music in Poland. How was that for you?
We did four shows with them, and it was so great. It was funny - one town we turned up to, because it was so last minute, we were literally playing in a car park. No houses around, nothing. We were like, “What are we doing here? We’re in a car park!” But then a couple hundred people turned up, and people responded, and we were all just like, “Brilliant!” I love it! If you can go anywhere to reach anyone, by all means, do it! So, yep - we absolutely loved it!
Thats amazing. I was on both the Ukrainian and Albanian tours with NLM this past summer. In Albania, we had 12 straight shows, setting up in almost 40ºC heat. But it’s all worth it at the end of the day, when you see the response, isn’t it?
Normally, when we’re on tour, we’re doing the music and then preaching. On the No Longer Music tour, we were the support act. So, as an evangelist, I was getting frustrated because I would go and try to talk to people, and they weren’t interested, and I was like, “Lord, what am I doing?”
I think we came to the last day, and we finished the gig, and asked people to respond. This guy came up to me and basically said, “Can you tell me how to become a Christian?” I really went in deep with him, with no messing around, and told him, “This is what it means to be a Christian.” And you know when someone just gets it? His eyes were opened and we prayed with him, and I said, “You need to be discipled now.” Then he said, “Oh well, this guy over here who’s setting up and helping out, he’s my best friend and he’s an on fire Christian.” So the guy came over, and I was like, “This is what your friend has just done.” And he said, “Oh yeah, of course we’ll meet up and I’ll disciple him!” So, it’s all worth it for one person, isn’t it?
Exactly! That’s so awesome. Well, how can the Come&Live! Community be praying for you guys?
We worked a lot on this new album - to really do the best we can - and it’s just come out. Pray for wisdom in how we can maximize it, to create opportunities for sharing the Gospel. You know, as an artist, when someone says, “Here’s an opportunity - do you want to do it?”, you feel like, “Yeah, we’ll do anything!” We want to be busy, but we want to be busy doing the right things, that actually go deeper than just the surface. So, pray for wisdom for us. We’re having a time together as a team in a couple of weeks, just to really pray and seek God, and think about strategically, where we need to be going.
Well, thanks for the interview, Tim! I’ll be praying for you with everything you’ve got ahead of you.
Thanks. Bless you, bro! Bye!