"Big House" is the biggest hit by Audio Adrenaline, one of the biggest Christian bands of the last 15 years. The song opens Adios: The Greatest Hits
, which was released in August. But underneath the song's catchy, upbeat surface is a deeper story about how the members of an increasingly popular band decided to devote significant portions of their time, money and celebrity to the cause of impoverished orphans in Haiti. Here, they tell a part of that story.
It's the summer of 2005; and even though the members of Audio Adrenaline have been on the road for months, they decide to take another journey — to the poor Haitian town of Cyvadier, where their foundation is building an orphanage for Haitian children.
Before there was Audio Adrenaline, band member Mark Stuart's parents served as missionaries in Haiti. Mark's time in Haiti had a profound impact on him.
"I've always had a love for Haiti," Mark says. "It was something that has been a part of me, way before Audio Adrenaline. This is like home for me. When I come here, I just melt into who I am supposed to be — if that makes any sense.
"God gave me a heart for the country of Haiti and for its beautiful people, especially the children. Soon afterward, I embarked on my crazy career with Audio Adrenaline. God has so blessed us over the years, and one of our responses to those blessings has been to start The Hands and Feet Project in Cyvadier, Haiti."
Haiti has shaped the band members' lives as well as their music.
"The lyrics for the song ‘Big House' were actually lyrics to a song that the kids taught us to sing here," says Stuart. "I was in junior high or high school on the north shore of Haiti working with my parents, and these kids would be singing this song. We wrote ‘Big House' using those lyrics. It's just a song about the hope of heaven.
"If you're a kid living here, you most likely live in a hut with a mud floor and a tin roof. You've got 10 family members sleeping with you. You might even have to sleep in a chair or something. One day, you look down the street and see a house. You think, I wonder if that's what heaven is like — a big house with everything we need: a room, a bed and all the food we need. Someday, I'll go there, to my Father's house. So that song means a lot to the kids here."
The band purchased a parcel of land in August 2004; and today the Hands and Feet Project
is helping orphans like Thamara, whose mother died about a year after she was born.
Meanwhile, members of Audio Adrenaline have served as public champions for an understanding of Christian living that balances faith and action. Here's how they express that understanding:
In James 1:27, the writer made this astounding statement: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (NIV).