Sonicflood bring missions emphasis with its Missouri concert tour
COLUMBIA – Rick Heil is the kind of guy who believes worship is a bad adjective. It’s a much better verb or noun.
Heil is the lead singer of Sonicflood, a contemporary Christian band that will play in five churches and universities across Missouri this month. To him, adoration of the Father – being and doing worship – is still just the first step toward living a life of obedience.
Minutes before he stepped onto the stage at the University of Missouri’s Jesse Auditorium, he elaborated on what it means not only to be and do worship, but to “go.” Praise and worship music is, almost by definition, limited to an individual’s expression to the Lord, he said. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Worship and a healthy relationship with God need to come first, but there is more that God commands of His children.
“If that central relationship isn’t working and you’re not being filled up everyday, then the other tasks that God calls us to won’t get taken care of,” he said. “But once you hear that still small voice, you’ll hear God calling you here, there or anywhere. That’s the ‘go’ part. Sometimes we forget that there’s more.”
Sonicflood is on a three-month tour promoting their newest album, Glimpse. A live album, the new record offers tracks recorded around the world from the band’s world tour last summer. The album and the current U.S. tour, including the stops in Missouri, both sponsored in part by the International Mission Board, have a intentional missions focus. The throbbing bass and heart-felt lyrics of each concert on the tour are punctuated with live and video interviews with students on the mission field or those that have recently returned. Heil calls it “a virtual missions tour.” Outside the doors of Jesse Auditorium, the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), the IMB and other missions organizations held a miniature missions fair signing up students to take the next step.
“When you become a Christian you’re called to go,” Heil said. “Go to your family, go to your community and tonight we’re focusing on going to your world.”
When it comes to “going,” the band is leading by example. Over the past three years, Sonicflood has played in Thailand, Switzerland, Ireland, Turkey, Australia, South Africa and a dozen other countries.
In Singapore, city leaders told the band they could not pray aloud or read from the Bible, but they could sing whatever they wanted because, as Heil said, they were an American band.
“So I just sang my prayers and sang as I read Scripture and the people loved it,” Heil said.
It was at a Christian orphanage in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where the Grammy-nominated band that has sold more than 1.5 million records learned something new about worship.
“I looked around at these kids just giving it their all, with such passion,” Heil said. “It’s hard to find that kind of passion in the U.S. We’ve got it made; we think that God didn’t save me from much. Over there, worship is a life-changing event.”
They also played in venues that might be considered less than welcoming.
“We played in Istanbul, a city of 15 million Muslims and 3,000 Christians, the first Christian concert at a secular venue in Istanbul’s history. The crowd was mostly Muslim; they just wanted to see an American band. I was on stage singing loud and clear about Jesus and I saw one man in the audience who was a Muslim friend of one of the local missionaries lean over, ask a question, then he started smiling. He asked what we were singing about and the missionary said ‘Jesus, and that he is holy.’”
So praise and worship can lead to opening the doors of evangelism and missions in addition to communion with the Father. Even a stage hand provided by the University of Missouri was impressed with the theme before the concert even began: “So this band encourages people to go out and do stuff in other countries?” he asked the band’s manager. “Cool. Why?”