When the worship leaders with Passion got together in the fall of 2019 to craft songs for their recently released album, ROAR, they had no idea how relevant the anthems of hope they wrote would be in the months to come during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Passion hosts a conference every year where thousands of college students gather to worship and focus on the Gospel in an intensified, weekend setting.
Leaders including Melodie Malone, Brett Younker and Kristian Stanfill, all a part of the writing process of the songs for the conference which are recorded live and released as an album, wrote with those college students in mind, trying to discern what God wanted them to proclaim through their music at the time of the conference.
Malone said that God “pre-loaded the soundtrack” of the conference. Even though none of them knew what would be coming with the COVID-19 pandemic, the songs found an even deeper meaning as they ministered to listeners throughout the following months.
“He [God] knows what we need to sing and when we need to sing it,” Younker added. “He knew, when we were working on these songs last year, through the fall, that we’d be in this moment right now and we would need these anthems of hope to be able to express our faith in God.
To say ‘hey, the things going on in the world, I’m not putting all of my stock in that. My hope is in Jesus, in the cross and resurrection.”
Worship music is a response to what God is doing, Malone said. Therefore, she and the other leaders begin by listening to God, trying to hear what He was speaking into their hearts, and thus what to address through music.
“Thinking about what does God want to say, and what does the church need to sing,” Malone said. “What’s He doing in our hearts? Just trying to reacclimate myself and ourselves to listening to what He’s trying to say to us and what He wants to do in the middle of all this.”
Stanfill noted that at the time of Passion, in the winter of 2019-2020, the group had gained a lot of momentum, and were excited to get into the year, traveling, serving and performing.
In an effort to continue that traction, with all travel and future plans on hold, the group released their radio single from ROAR, “There’s Nothing That Our God Can’t Do.”
“We looked at the record, all the songs on that record, and thought that this song best captured the moment at Passion 2020, but then also the moment that we’re in, in the world, with COVID-19,” Stanfill said. “People, when this [the pandemic] hit, were looking for something real, for truth, something solid that they could stand on and put their hope in. We felt that this song said what we wanted to say in this moment.”
“Greater things are ahead, when you believe in Jesus and when you follow Jesus,” Stanfill continued. “We believe that the best days are ahead of us.”
Although Malone, Younker and Stanfill have not been able to meet in person to songwrite in the recent months, Stanfill said they have adjusted to doing some remote writing sessions, looking forward to when they can slowly start to be together again.
“We’ve been forced into a time of processing,” Malone said. “It really has felt like this time where God has said ‘hey, I want you to reacquaint yourself with my presence,’.”
Malone said that God’s presence is not localized to a place, such as the Passion 2020 conference. Just as the music from the conference album, ROAR, has extended into the current time bringing a message of hope, Malone said God’s presence and hope extends into the current, difficult and confusing situations.
“I have just as much Jesus [now] as I did at Passion 2020,” Malone said.
“We’re carrying a message of hope and right now everything is shaking in the world. All the broken systems are breaking around us. We feel that we carry a message of hope that runs deep into the hearts and souls of people,” Younker emphasized. “In the midst of the hardship, we see a real opportunity to be able to step in and help and to share the message of Jesus with people.”