BREATHEcast had the opportunity to chat with Mark Wagner about his new project OrphanSong and his StorySong movement. The artist opened up about his ministry, music as evangelism, and his upcoming album.
BREATHEcast: Can you tell us a little bit about the creation of OrphanSong and why it was created?
Mark Wagner: OrphanSong was created to help raise awareness and funds for vulnerable children in Africa. Specifically, proceeds from the sale of the album help send kids to school in Zimbabwe and Kenya. This project was made possible through the generous participation of several artists who are friends and supporters of our STORYSONG Movement. Each artist donated a song for the project, and through our partnership with Family Christian Stores the album is available throughout the country.
BC: On this project there are collaborations with the Newsboys, Jars of Clay, and few other large artists.
MW: Yes, all of the artists involved were excited to participate. We're pleased they agreed it was a worthy cause to get behind!
BC: What is the goal of the StorySong movement and where do you hope to see it grow to?
MW: The goal of STORYSONG is to tell stories that inspire action. We want to share stories of redemption and hope about the amazing Gospel-work happening around the world. We believe by sharing these stories, and by offering people simple opportunities to take action, we can continue to benefit vulnerable children. We want to release music projects each year, as well as other creative products that will help us tell these stories of transformation and raise funds for kids.
BC: Why do you feel music is such a powerful medium to spread a message, especially with something such as evangelism?
MW: Music captures a story as well as an emotion, and throughout history music has been a powerful medium for inspiring people. We hope when we share the stories of our friends around the world, we might find we are not so different from each other. We are all part of God's family--part of God's story of redemption and reconciliation. Music is a universal language.
BC: Rumor has it you'll be releasing an album soon. Can you tell us a bit about it, and let the fans know what they can expect?
MW: I am releasing my third full-length album this summer called New Futures. I'm so excited about this project. These songs were produced by Mark Trussell, Ben Shive and myself and the album showcases the adventure of life, delving specifically into the past four years of my own life. Through marriage, seminary, world travel, working with kids in Africa and in the US, I've learned so much about myself and God. There are big pop songs, funky soul tunes and also some laid-back acoustic songs.
BC: What's one testimony that sticks out in your mind that has come about through your ministry?
MW: My friend Evans Luseno grew up in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. His father left when we he was young and he and his brother were forced to work in the streets to help provide for their family. They had no access to education and no hope for a bright future.
Evans was identified by one of our church partners in Nairobi as a worthy candidate for our education program. He and his brother were sponsored and began school. They had access to education, food, books and uniforms. Evans and his brother remained in our program through University and he is now pursuing his Master's Degree (on a full scholarship) at a graduate school in Tokyo. He wants to be a journalist so he can continue to share stories of Hope and redemption with the world!
BC: What is your main driving force for creating music, and how does the music itself serve as an outlet for you?
MW: I want to write and record music that encourages and helps people. Life is hard, and I hope my music points people to Jesus. I want to connect with the listener on a deeper level, through real life stuff like relationships, struggle, sin, forgiveness and other crazy things we face. The basic message is: through it all, we have a hope and a future in Jesus alone.
I can't help but write music. I've literally tried to quit multiple times in different seasons of frustration throughout my career. But I keep coming back because I'll see a guitar sitting in the living room, pick it up and write a song that I love. Then I'll remember that whether anyone ever buys my records or not, God is using music to connect with me in an intimate way. And then when people hear the music, He uses it to encourage them also. It's all worth it in the end!
BC: Anything else to add?
MW: Thanks for supporting this project! From the beginning three years ago, I know God has been growing and shaping the STORYSONG movement for His purposes. We are just following His lead.