“Something is stirring across New England and we are desperate to be a part of it,” says Justin Kendrick, Out of Hiding’s lead vocalist and guitarist; author of Living For Another World (2009) and Vessels of Honor (2008); and founder of the multi-faceted Holyfire Ministries. Driven by an urgency to help initiate revival in America’s birthplace—once the center of Christianity in the New World—Justin, his band mates and ministry partners are nurturing a vision that singlehandedly defines their purpose. “My prayer is that God would use us and many others to bring unity and spiritual awakening back to New England and it would grab the heart of our entire nation.”
Audacious? Perhaps. But if it takes a leap to exercise faith, then Out of Hiding represents the mouthpiece of a ministry most definitely on the move. “Each member of the team is far more than a musician,” Justin explains of the band, which also includes his wife Chrisy (vocals/keys); bassist Joe Jacobs; guitarist Jon Wisecarver; and drummer Madison Bollinger. “We all work for the larger purpose of Holyfire Ministries, and we are all friends, part of a community together of Jesus followers wrestling with what it means to live authentically for Christ in our city and our culture.”
The band’s latest offering, a live CD/DVD combo recorded at Holyfire’s annual youth conference Brave Generation features 14 tracks as well as a live video recording of the conference’s worship sessions. The album, “Live from Brave Generation”, was recorded in the historic town of Plymouth, MA in front of nearly 1,000 teens and young adults from every state in New England and as a result serves as a rally cry for the hearts of a generation separated from Christ. The project carries an intensity—both musically and lyrically—that is undeniable. “The more we’ve connected with people across America, the more we run into the themes of emptiness, fatherlessness, depression, guilt, and bitterness,” Justin says. “The answer is always the cross of Jesus. Hope has spoken through the cross for all eternity to breathe life back into humanity, and these songs chronicle the journey of that Truth in the human heart.”
“For us, what you see onstage is not the story,” he continues. “It’s a piece of the story, but Christianity was meant to be lived, and our focus is in the living. We do our best to make sure that what happens on the stage is just the natural outworking of what’s happening while no one is watching.”
Indeed, behind the scenes various pieces of a growing movement unite to reveal a brilliant display of faith in action that is changing a generation. Founding Holyfire Ministries in 2005, Justin and Chrisy’s vision began by organizing outreaches on university campuses along the East Coast. As the fledging ministry took wing, Holyfire started a summer internship program, service initiatives and training conferences, and in 2008 Out of Hiding formed as one of the most integral arms of the organization.
Between the recording and touring schedule of Out of Hiding and the various conferences, campus outreaches and service projects Holyfire nurtures each year, the ministry’s team has a full plate. But perhaps one of the most unique aspects of the organization—and one of the keys to its broad-reaching impact—is the emphasis on communal living. Reminiscent of first century Christians depicted in Acts, Out of Hiding and the entire Holyfire staff live together, among several houses, in New Haven, Connecticut.
“Personally and as a team we’ve been on this journey trying to figure out how to produce and sustain authentic Christianity,” Justin explains. “In the process we’ve found that living together forces us to deal with things we could otherwise sweep under the rug. Spiritually, there is no room for fake. If I’m not living for Jesus, or honoring my wife, I would need to go to great lengths to hide it. We have lots of impromptu dinners and we share life together. It’s been a few years and we like each other more now than when we started.”
Cultivating a ministry and a Christian band may present its share of unique challenges in an area largely devoid of faith today, but Justin’s decision to base Holyfire in New England came as a result of personal experience.
“I grew up in a typical New England middle class home,” he remembers. “As a non-practicing, half-believing Catholic I didn’t have much clear knowledge of God or a real desire for Him. But slowly, through a church my dad began attending, I started to learn the basics about Jesus and had a set of experiences that would come to define my life. I heard God speak to my soul and awaken my heart to experience His power in an undeniable way.”
“With a fresh burning passion for God, I ended up playing guitar for the newly formed worship band at my youth ministry,” he continues. “One night our singer couldn’t get to the meeting, so my youth pastor asked if I could sing. I told him no, but he insisted I try it out anyway. I did, and though the singing was rough, God didn’t seem to mind. People worshiped, the power of God moved, and the whole place ended up on our faces singing to God. It was a fresh move of the Holy Spirit and at the end of the meeting my youth pastor told me I was the new singer.”
Soon after, the worship band began touring, and the ministry spread across New England. After Justin graduated from college and married Chrisy, the couple stepped into full-time ministry and Holyfire was launched. Entering its seventh year of operation, the Holyfire team has recently planted a church in New Haven CT and has established an even bigger presence in New England through this year’s Brave Generation Conference.
In the midst of it all, the music and mission of Out of Hiding is paramount to the greater vision. “Out of Hiding carries the torch and heartbeat of Holyfire Ministries,” he says. “We believe in the potential of the church to change cities, regions and nations, and it’s often a song that carries the spirit of change.”
For Justin, Chrisy, Joe, Jon, Madison—and the entire Holyfire team—it’s their prayer that the world will be listening, because something significant is stirring in New England.
For more information on Out of Hiding and Holyfire Ministries visit holyfireministries.com or www.facebook.com/outofhiding