Episode | October 24, 2022

Transcript for Evan Craft’s Episode of The Walk

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Joshua Swanson: Welcome to The Walk; a devotionals podcast led by worship leaders. In this episode, Evan Craft shares about his journey from artist to soldier. Here we go.

Evan Craft: Hey guys, it’s Evan Craft. Um, very happy to be here today and I wanna share a story that really impacted my life. Uh, something that kind of transformed my career, um, and ministry from, you know, really a moment of, of really kind of a, a cycle of anxiety and, and stress to understanding that God is sovereign. And I think that’s really had an impact on my life. When things go wrong, when things are difficult, you know, to really bring peace to me. 

I started traveling around Latin America when I was 24. Right after college, I, I bet everything, everything I had. Um, put, put a thousand dollars on a credit card and I, I went to Columbia, Argentina, and Chile, and we did six concerts, acoustic concerts the, the first week. 500 bucks each just going to churches and trying to pay, you know, I, I pay the hotels, pay the other things, and it, it ended up going really, really well. And by the end of the tour, they invited me back, um, to do Guatemala, Columbia, Argentina, and my life just really went, wild, Um, after that, traveling around Latin America, and I’ve had, I have really great stories and I have really difficult stories and, and moments where, you know, I’m very grateful to not have gone on the beaten path, but to have taken a different road.

And so I’ve been able to go to Bolivia a few times and Bolivia’s an interesting country because, um, they’ve had more of socialist leadership, um, not, and it’s been really hard for them to really actually take advantage of their resources, which means that a lot of people, um, live in poverty and it’s, just a really difficult country. The people are amazing and beautiful and, um, you know, I think God’s doing something there. But when we went, I took a bunch of gringos, Americans that, um, had never lived in Latin America on tour, and it was just um, it was really a big step of faith. Um, every time we would go places because we didn’t, you know, I didn’t know anybody in Bolivia. I, well, you know, I had studied Latin American history in college and knew a, you know, a few of the cities and the capital. Um, but you know, I always had like this vision of what a city looked like in my mind, and I would get there and it was completely different.

We get to Bolivia and there was like, we were doing like four or five concerts and we go to Santa Cruz, um, De La Sierra, we go to Cocha Bamba. We went to La Paz, and to a little town called Oruro and Oruro is like 14,000 feet high. A lot of artists can’t even perform because of the, elevation sickness.

And I was, I’m thankful that most of what I’ve done in those type of places when I was in my early twenties because I didn’t have very many, uh, difficulties. But what really happened on this tour was that we got to the first city, no one picked us up from the airport, and my manager at this point, the guy who’s booking everything, he was Bolivian, but lived in Argentina most of his life.

And so he assumed a lot of things were going to happen because of how they work in Argentina, but not how they work in Bolivia. So no one picked us up. He didn’t coordinate that well. And then, you know, we finally meet up with a church and, you know, they’re supposed to give us some food and some, you know, take us to a restaurant. They don’t do that. We don’t have a place to. Um, things were just kind of going out of control. One of the events, they moved the location without telling us and without telling the people. Then they’re waiting for a politician to start the event who just decides he’s gonna show up two hours late, and it’s my name on everything, so people are furious. They’re wanting refunds. It was just a, it was a mess. 

And so, after three days of this, I think we entered into a point where, you know, I, I was traveling with some of my best friends, but they were a little mutinous I think at this moment I felt like a failure. I mean, we, you know, I’m taking these guys, I’m not getting paid or I’m getting paid half and, you know, we don’t have the right gear.

It’s just, it’s just a big mess and again, I just wanna clarify, I love Bolivia and the people, but this tour was a disaster for us.

We started all raising our voices and when there’s, there’s some fighting and we’re all friends and then I’m blaming the manager and they’re blaming me and they’re just, and the manager’s just like, “well, it’s Latin America. Get over it.” You know, but that’s not the expectation that we had and that’s not how we were working.

And so, you know, we, we were losing the focus of everything that we had gone down to do. We weren’t exactly missionaries, we were invited to do worship concerts. And I think that was, that was the difference in mentality that we had. And I, and you know, I think that that is something that can speak to a lot of people because, you know, at some point we, you know, we always go, okay, well, you know, you gotta treat volunteers well and you, and you really do, and you gotta do this stuff and you, and you have to take care of your people. And that’s how I was feeling. I was feeling this massive pressure to take care of my band. I had taken these guys from la we had moved to Houston and I took ’em all around Latin America and now I can’t even pay them and they’re hungry. And I’m the leader. And there’s a, there’s a lot of pressure. And the only person I could really blame was my tour manager. 

Um, and so we get, I get to the breaking point after like four or five days and so at this moment, I, I remember I was in the hotel and I call Marcos Witt. So Marcos Witt is a six-time Latin Grammy-winning artist. Um, incredibly gifted, anointed worship leader, songwriter, pastor, um, I’m so thankful that God put him in my life, to mentor me. Um, and so I, I’m at the point where I’m, I’m, I’m gonna buy tickets home. We’re, we’re done. We’re supposed to go to Argentina or Chile after I’ve just, like, I have led these people into the abyss.

We are, we’re gonna lose so much more money. People are unhappy with us, and the sound checks are taking six to seven hours. We’re exhausted. Um, you know, we’re, we’re not even enjoying the concerts at that point. And I call Marcos and I say, Give me one reason not to quit. Give me one reason that I just don’t go home right now, like, and burn it all to the ground.

Like I, I don’t know, maybe the, you know, the word travels fast and no one invites me anymore because I just, I gave up on a tour. I don’t know. 

And Marco said something to me that I will always remember because it impacted me so strongly that he asked me, Evan, are you an artist or are you a soldier? And that theme has come into my life many times because as an artist, I can demand things.

I can say, I won’t go unless you do this and if and when I get there, if this isn’t done, then I won’t do this. But as a soldier, I have a job to do. I have a, I have a purpose, I have a mission, and it sometimes requires sacrifice and sometimes more sacrifice than in other moments. And he told me, Evan, you’re not called to get up there when everything works and everything’s great, and when all the things are paid, you’re called to get up there tonight and to minister, to invite the presence of God into that room. And he encouraged me that night to put my guitar down, to let one of my guys play something, and just to go and pray for people. So that night, I, I, I got off stage and prayed and I remember praying for this, this young man, this kid, and he, you know, he got snot all over my shoulder and it was gross, but it was also like, this is real. This isn’t a performance, this isn’t artistry, this is ministry. This is what God has actually called me to. It’s to pray for, to, to intercede for people to lay hands on people.

Joshua Swanson: In the second half of this episode, Evan talks about his experiences in South America and how they helped him grow into an effective minister. 

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Evan Craft: You know, I think that so many times we get caught up with, okay, if this doesn’t work, if this person doesn’t show up on time, if these, you know, if they haven’t rehearsed, and if it everything isn’t working as a well-oiled machine and we can, we can value excellence so much that we forget what it is that God has really asked us to do.

And I don’t think that you know, we, we, we never wanna compromise excellence, but if we put excellence over people, over ministry, over praying for, for our brothers and sisters in Christ, if, if excellence is over people, then we have our priorities wrong. 

And you know, just in, in my life to, remembering that things require sacrifice. They, they, they really do. I have this idealistic world where everyone pays me on time and they pay me double because God laid it on their heart. But the reality is most of the time doing what is worth it requires sacrifice. I’ve been able to go into countries and situations where they don’t have the resources to really cover the costs of what it really takes to get there, but there’s a hunger and there’s a desire to worship and there’s a thankfulness. And, and even if there isn’t when I get to minister to people who, who, hey, they’ve sing, they’ve sung this song for years and years, whether it’s mine or someone, someone else’s, they are so grateful. 

And I also just wanna say that this point to artists that many times, I, I felt like when I was singing other people’s songs, that I was a fake.

I remember when someone had invited me to Paraguay and I got to meet this family who was so excited. The pastor introduced them to me backstage and they said that their son loved this song, Glorious Ruins from Hillsong that I had done a cover of in Spanish. And, and I go, Oh my gosh, well, I, I’d love to meet him. And their face changed in that moment and they told me that their son had just passed away from cancer.

Man, I, I remember, you know them, them telling me that he loved this song Glorious Ruins so much because it was speaking that one day God will give him a new body; that the let these ruins come to life. And I mean, as a 12-year-old to go through that, that sacrifice and, and, and sometimes the what felt meaningless, what felt, you know, like I’m not really having an impact.

I had no idea what it was doing and you know, that’s where are you an artist or are you a soldier? Do you understand the bigger mission of what God is doing in your life? I just, I just pray over church musicians, over church worship leaders that they don’t grow weary in doing good. You know, my dad would always say to me, um, this verse that was, “don’t despise the day of small beginning.” 

That when I was in my room writing, when I was in the youth group playing, when I was, you know, the second or third guitarist at the, at the church, you know, to, to enjoy those moments and understand that, that your purpose and your impact is far beyond the 30 minutes on stage. So I wanna read this scripture over you that has really impacted me out of second Samuel 24:24, where King David says, “I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord. My God, that costs me nothing.” 

And I think it just reminds us that as worship leaders, as musicians, that there is a, there is a requirement for sacrifice. Whether that’s time, uh, whether that’s resources and when we offer ourselves unto the Lord, it is not always going to be easy, it’s not always going to be comfortable, and you don’t always understand what God is doing, but there is an impact. 

So I just wanna encourage you as musicians and worship leaders today, that we remember that there is a sacrifice. There has to be a sacrifice. It’s, it’s not supposed to be. When we are giving ourselves something to the Lord, it must cost us something. And so today, as you get ready for service or you rehearse, I want to remind you to be praying for people and remember that this is ministry. Remember that you are the hands and feet of Jesus, and so not just as musicians, but as priests, as the ones who get to usher in and, and invite the presence of God that you remember what you’re called to do today.

Joshua Swanson: Thank you, Evan, for that great reminder that sacrifice is a part of being a soldier and brings with it the blessing of growing closer to our creator and stronger in our faith. Evan has a great song called Be All Right, that he sings with Danny Goki that proclaims the sovereignty of God that we’ll play out this episode.

As always, special thanks to Matt McCarty for producing and editing today’s episode. Jacob Fairclough produced our theme song. The Walk is brought to you by Worship Leader Magazine, which is an Authentic Media brand. I’m Joshua Swanson. Here’s Be All Right.