What started out as a way to do something nice for his wife ended up changing Aaron Gillespie’s life. After traveling to Uganda with Jamie on a mission trip last year, Gillespie was so moved that he felt inspired to begin work on his first solo worship album. The end result, Anthem Song, will release on March 8.
As the front man for The Almost and former drummer for Underoath, Gillespie has traveled all around the world for much of the last 10 years, including Canada for Rock the River in Fraser Valley. “I’ve been so blessed, playing music and talking about Jesus,” he said during a phone interview this week. “But last year, my wife—well, ever since we got married—she started expressing this heavy, heavy desire to work in the mission field. But she’s never been on a trip.
“It’s funny how God gets your attention when he wants it,” he added.
Soon Gillespie and his wife were headed to Uganda. “I really thought I was just going with her and being a good husband; I wasn’t called to the mission field. I thought I would just go and help out and see what it was. But it changed our entire existence as a married couple. It changed the entire face of our ministry. It changed everything.”
The first song on Gillespie’s upcoming album reflects the impact of that trip. “We Were Made for You” was birthed after the couple experienced a Ugandan worship service. “We walked in,” he recalled, “and during church services in Third World countries—people are just going for it. I wondered, ‘Why is it the way it is?’ And I began to pray. The spirit of God was so strong in the place and I said, ‘God, why is that? How come this feels like it does?'”
Gillespie felt God was saying that in countries of plenty, people worship “so circumstantially.” We pray when someone has cancer or needs help. We praise Him only when things are good. “But these folks here, they worship God just because He exists, just because He makes their heart work and their lungs work.”
The thought, Gillespie said, “killed” him. “We were created to worship God. We were created for union with God. That’s kind of the backbone behind the song. And what better place to go than Haiti—since it’s the worst spot right now—to make a visual representation of this?” Gillespie wants to see the work that BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse have been doing in Haiti for the last year and learn how he can really dig in and help.
Gillespie’s ties with the Graham ministries can be traced to his childhood. When he was 5 years old, he saw Billy Graham on TV and “I was saved. But then you grow up and become an idiot,” he added. “I was 16 or 17, and was trying to court this girl, and she was going to Billy Graham counselor training sessions because he was coming to my town for a Crusade. And I went just to be with her.”
Even on the first night of the Crusade, Gillespie’s main interest was seeing the band dc Talk. “There were 85,000 people in my town (Tampa) that night—it was in the football stadium. They called for counselors and it was my turn to go down to the field. So I go down there, and Mr. Graham gives the invitation and I saw thousands come to know Jesus and it wrecked my life.”
“I’ve never been the same since,” he added. “That’s when I realized why I am on earth. If I could lead one person to Jesus and then die, then that’s OK.”
Gillespie concluded: “This life we live is not our own. I’m so ready and willing to do whatever God wants to do. We are so tiny. Our life is but a vapor. I feel like there’s this anthem of grace and mercy that’s been happening since time began and it will go on forever. Our job is just to sing a little piece of that song.”
All photos courtesy of Paul Sherar, Samaritan’s Purse © 2011
Be sure to follow Aaron’s trip on the BGEA or Samaritan’s Purse Facebook and Twitter feeds over the next few days. We’ll be posting videos, photos and updates from the team. The radio single, “We Were Made For You” (co-written with Paul Baloche), is premiering now on Aaron’s Facebook page. Pre-purchase Anthem Song at aarongmerch.com.