I have been captivated by this song for some time. Some have said, “That’s a good song, but what’s the big deal about it?” Well, I think it just strikes such an emotional chord with me because of the vision God has given us for this community. After this past weekend I cannot help but feel more of a connection with the words of this song. I think God has some incredible things in store for our community and His church here. I don’t want to wear this song out, as happens to so many good songs these days. However, I think there is such a connection with the message for us and I think that it is definitely inspired.
Below is a video featuring images of Belfast, Ireland, the home of the original band, Bluetree, who wrote and recorded “God Of This City”. Also below is the story behind the song. My friend Pete Hixson had this on his blog and I swiped it from there. A little long, but well worth reading.
One of the key tracks on the album is “God Of This City” from which the phrase ‘Greater Things’ which gives the album its title is taken. I ask Aaron about the song and as he recalls the circumstances his voice breaks and he begins to cry, still moved by the events he’s describing. “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; in Northern Ireland we have a coastal town called Bangor and it’s very much like that. But in that small area 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. You probably hear of ladyboys and all those kinds of things? It’s got a ladyboy community and all this kind of stuff, and 90 or 95 percent of Thailand’s income comes from the sex industry.”
Aaron continues, “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 kind of felt like: okay, we’re going to a school one day, two-days rest, we’re gonna go to somewhere else; two-days rest, we’re gonna go to somewhere else – we were there for nine days. So we chucked out the idea and 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.”
Aaron explains what happened next. “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?!”
He pauses to compose himself and continues, “But 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! Amazing drums, the biggest drum kit you’ve ever seen in your life. I walk in and my dream amp is sitting there! Walk in and Rick’s big Mesa Boogie stack sitting there! I was like, ‘Woah!’ 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!”
He laughs and describes the scene, “So all the Christians are all sugared off their heads on Coke.that’s Coca-Cola by that way! The drink! 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. You’ve got a German guy who’s completely wrote off, with a prostitute on each arm and he is just like your Number One Fan! It was one of the most random experiences but it was a God thing, God was there.”