Going from an accomplished music career to being surrounded by immense poverty is enough to make anyone do a double take on their life. Seven-time Dove award nominee and accomplished songwriter Shaun Groves experienced this firsthand.
It's been six years since Groves' last album in 2005, but he hasn’t been sitting back and enjoying the splendors of his success. For those six years, Groves has been traveling with Compassion International, a Christian organization that sponsors children living in poverty and provides them with their spiritual and physical needs.
He has visited countries such as El Salvador and Ethiopia, and has seen some of the most destitute people content and filled with a giving heart. Full of new experiences, heartfelt memories and the most challenging and molding times of his Christianity, he’s back with his new album Third World Symphony, which expresses the lessons that he has learned.
In a BREATHEcast interview, Groves spoke about the way the Third World has changed him, experiences he’ll never forget and his new album.
Speaking about how his life and music has changed, Groves said, “Gosh, there are too many thoughts hitting my head. I’m not sure which ones to tell you. Everything in my life has changed since my last project.”
Groves continued: “The last time I released any music was six years ago. So, the size house we live in, how many pairs of shoes I have, my politics, my parenting, my reason for making music, my theology, my understanding of God – I can’t really think of anything that hasn’t been changed over the last six years.”
The musician said that in Third World Symphony, he focuses on recognizing everything in life is a gift from God.
“[It's] not just forgiveness of sin or heaven when I die but every moment of every day … everything is a gift,” Groves said.
All the gifts of God, he added, are also to be given away.
“I’m to take only my daily bread, and gratefully, cheerfully, joyfully and give the rest to people who don’t have daily bread, whether that’s spiritual or physical bread and that’s a big change in my thinking in life,” he commented.
Groves celebrated with a church in Ethiopia when communism fell, giving Christians the liberty to openly practice their beliefs, free from persecution.
“It was a night of reading Scripture, singing songs, laughing and telling incredible stories,” Groves said, recapping the events. “Stories of jailhouse survival, of generators going out in the middle of electrocutions so lives were spared – miracles. Everyone seemed to have a story. By the end of the night I was just amazed. I felt like a kid at the adult table.”
Wanting to show gratitude to the community for the great experience, Groves had idea to gather and donate worship music by himself and other Christian artists to send back to the church. When he offered to do this for the elder pastor of the church, he got a response that he wasn’t expecting.