LIFELINE: 1. CAN YOU GIVE A DESCRIPTION OF YOUR LIFE BEFORE YOU ENCOUNTERED JESUS?
Joey: It was self-centered as opposed to Christ-centered. As I mentioned in my testimony, I used to dream of becoming a great somebody with my musical gifts. I invested most of my time, resources, energy and relationships to achieve this aim. But God showed me that in order to be a somebody in His Kingdom, I first had to become the smallest and learn humility (Matthew 18:1-4).
LIFELINE: 2. HOW DID YOUR MUSICAL JOURNEY START?
Joey: I think it runs in the blood. All my uncles and some relatives from my father’s side are musicians. So I picked up the guitar at the age of eight in the early 80s. Dad, who was himself a devoted musician, challenged me to play well. I played with many college bands, but lacked proper exposure until RSJ came along. I first came into contact with Rock Street Journal in the early 90′s when the magazine had just started out. They were looking for a state RSJ Representative for Aizawl, Mizoram, which was later changed into the role of a Correspondent. I was a young guitar player in my early 20′s, aspiring to make it big in the music scene. There were little or no avenues, income, or opportunities for musicians in those days, unlike our western counterparts. I applied for the position, short-listed, and was eventually hired. I earned about Rs.500 per month (good money for a college student at that time).
LIFELINE: 3. WHAT MADE YOU TAKE A STAND AND CHANGE THE DIRECTION OF YOUR LIFE?
Joey: I didn’t make a stand. I couldn’t change my life’s direction on my own. I desperately needed help! (see Romans 7: 21-25). Music was associated with marijuana, other drugs and alcohol. They seemed to go well together in those days. I tried everything, like drug rehabilitation programs, but that failed too. I went to a Bible college during which I got Baptised in the Spirit. The Lord turned my life around for Himself. Meditating on the Word and living a Spirit-filled life was what really transformed my life. Jesus has never been real to me as He is to me today.
LIFELINE: 4. HOW DO YOU KNOW WHETHER A PARTICULAR TYPE OF MUSIC IS GOOD TO LISTEN TO OR NOT?
Joey: Well, it depends on the lyrics. What makes a music secular or Christian is really the content of the lyric. I’m willing to call an instrumental music “a Christian music” if it is played by a born-again believer. But Christians have to discern if a particular type of music is spiritually edifying or not. There are certain songs that sounds instrumentally “hip and cool,” but may not be helpful for your spiritual growth. That’s where the deception lies. In fact, it may reinforce our sinful natures if the lyric we listen to promotes a different worldview other than the biblical worldview. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10: 17). Likewise, other beliefs that contradicts God’s word may also come by listening to a particular type of music. If it’s a love song, one has to be sure the lyric is clean. As Christians we are urged to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12: 2). Transformation in our own lives comes about “by the renewal of our minds.” But some secular songs simply do not help us renew our minds. Instead of helping us discern what God’s will is, some lyrics serve as spiritual junk food for our minds.
According to Romans 8: 5 “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” So, some lyrics are very not helpful for cultivating a Christ-centered mind- set!
LIFELINE: 5. WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT PROJECTS AND PRE-OCCUPATIONS?
Joey: I am currently working on a musical project, called: One Audience (referring to Jesus). I’m also writing a book titled: “ The Pursuit Of Joy In The Garden Of Pain” (Tentative title). This book is dedicated to the family members of 25, 000+ people who lost their lives in the tragic events that unfolded on March 11, 2011. Hopefully, 100 % of the proceeds from the book will go towards the rebuilding and the reconstruction of Tohoku Earthquake, Tsunami & Nuclear Radiation disaster.
LIFELINE: 6. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG AND AMATEUR MUSICIANS FOR ATTAINING FULLNESS IN CHRIST AND AT THE SAME TIME TO EXCEL PROFESSIONALLY?
Joey: Firstly, I would say to those who have found failure in their own lives, not to despair and not to strive hard. We cannot earn our own salvation. It is a gift! John 1: 16 says “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” Fullness in Christ is not attained but given to us. But one way to experience more of Him is to seek God through prayer. When Paul prayed for the Ephesians, he prayed for them that they “may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). There is more of God to be known and experienced than we now know and experience. So one way to keep going after “ the fullness of God” is to pray, and be prayed for by others constantly.
Secondly, I would say: serve others with your musical gifts in the local Church where you can grow in your character. Learn servant-hood under a good leadership. Your godly character will make your gifts shine. It’s sad to see too many musically gifted young people who fell away with ill repute, because they were spiritually immature. Godliness and giftedness should go together. Paul said that the Church “is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:23). Therefore, serve the “body of Christ” if you want the “fullness of Him.” One cannot claim to love Jesus and not love His body at the same time.
So if you love Jesus, serve the local Church with your gifts.
On a more practical level, learn music theory. These days, with technology, there are unconventional ways to do this. Pursue excellence! Don’t give in to mediocrity. Surround yourself constantly with godly professional musicians; and learn from them. Stay teachable!
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- To read the entire testimony and interview, please write to Uday Kiran, Chief Editor, at his e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org