The Back Story

The Passion movement recently released the album, God of This City. The title was taken from a song, sung on the album by Chris Tomlin, but originally written and released by the Irish band, Blue Tree. I love the whole song, but my favorite lines come from the chorus:

Greater things have yet to come
Great things are still to be done
In this city
Greater things are still to come
And greater things are still to be done here.

I love this lines because the capture the “fighting edge” of Christianity–a Christianity that, as C.S. Lewis says, believes “a great many things have gone wrong with this world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.” The lines drive us to be a people who incarnate Jesus, declaring and bringing the rule and reign of Christ to every place, including the darkest of places — a truth illustrated in the back story of this song.When asked about the song, lead vox Aaron Boyd recalls:

“There’s a couple from Carrickfergus, Ian and Leslie, and they moved out to Thailand to a place called Pattaya. We got asked to go and be part of an event called Pattaya Praise. Pattaya is a seaside town/resort place, and physically, it looks to be like the darkest place you’ll ever go to. And spiritually, it is THE darkest place we have ever been to. You just feel the evil. You just feel the enemy all over that place. It’s a very small place. . . But in that small area in Thailand, there are 30,000 prostitutes and that figure excludes kids and excludes anything that’s outside of the range of, say 18-30, and who are female. . .

Part of what we were asked to do was to go out and be part of an event which runs for four or five days. It had things like 24/7 worship and prayer and social action going on helping the people who clean the streets every morning. We played in a school and ministered in an orphanage and tried to get a heart for that city. As a band we were getting cold feet because we had four days in Bangkok to start, and in those four days it was great. We’d be quite hyperactive, and it was flat-out, four days; not an hour was lost to sleep in those four days. On the Sunday we managed to play in one church and it was brilliant, but we wanted more. And then when we got to Pattaya . . . we said, ‘If you can get us anywhere else to play, anywhere, we want to play. We just want to do what we do in the middle of somewhere and just go head-on into it.”

“There was a bar called The Climax Bar – on a street that’s about 10 metres wide, it’s a kilometre long and it’s filled with everything you can physically imagine. And I promise you, as a red-blooded male, to keep your head in the right place you’ve got to look down at the ground and walk down that street and pray because it is just so in your face. People hit you with menus about everything, flashing lights, just everything you can imagine goes on in that place. You see kids as young as eight, nine, 10, just selling themselves, you know?! You see 60-year-old guys walking down the street with two 13 or 14-year-old girls. Forget about the Christian thing, you just get raging! You properly get raging when you see that happening, you know?!”

. . . We got the chance to play in this bar, a two-hour worship set in this bar. I don’t think the people in the bar spoke a word of English but we basically got to go in. The deal was that we play and we bring a following of people with us; so we’re there, set up, really good gear! So we all set up and there was like 20 Christians all standing in front of us, and the deal was we play, they buy lots of drinks, alright? I don’t think the place has ever sold so much Coke in its whole life in one night!

And we got to play for two hours. And just the way the band set up, we like using loops, and at one point I just started singing out. I started singing “Greater Things”, something along those lines, almost prophesying over the city. And without going into the band dynamics, slowly this groove emerged from this thing. And long story short; we walked out of that Climax Bar with pretty much a nailed song, as strange as that sounds. Then we were on the way home.

We were all. . .it was that tumbleweed silence, you know? It was like, ‘What actually just happened in that time?!’ It was one of the most powerful worship experiences we’ve ever had. I actually remember looking out, and you’re looking down a wee alleyway, into the street, and it was just 50 or 60 probably British tourists and they’re just sitting there listening going, ‘What is this all about?’ Coming from The Climax Bar which is pretty much a strip club. Just, here we are singing about Jesus in the middle of this. . . It was one of the most random experiences but it was a God thing, God was there.”

And where does name Bluetree come from?

“Bluetree stands for standing out. The whole concept of that is that, if you’re walking through a forest, everything you look around at is pretty much going to be green; green trees, brown branches, brown bark: you know, that kind of thing? But if you saw this tree that was bright blue and everything about it – leaves, branches, bark – was blue, it would stand out and you would stand and look at it and take notice of it. As Christians, Jesus Christ has called us to be salt, be light, in this world and really make a difference.”