There will always be times when the sadness in life seems too heavy to bear — but God doesn’t forget us.
The Afters, a Christian band that’s been together for over 16 years, has endured its share of hardship. Consisting of four musicians — Matt Fuqua, Josh Havens, Jordan Mohilowski, and Dan Ostebo — the band has worked hard to be a positive voice in the culture, despite personal tragedy.
“We wanted this record to be a weapon for faith — a weapon for your faith in the midst of struggle.”
“We’ve had a lot of sadness and pain over these last couple years,” explained Josh Havens, lead singer and one of the founding members. “We’ve lost a lot of people close to us. We’ve had a lot of struggles in our life and the people around us.”
But like so many Christian musicians, The Afters courageously chose to share their pain and loss. It appears vividly on their new album, “Live On Forever.”
“‘In our new record, we approach pain and suffering from a perspective of not dwelling on those sad moments, but claiming the victory that we have in Jesus,” Havens told LifeZette in an exclusive interview.
Those periods of pain and suffering are so difficult, but The Afters hope to be able to inspire others through difficulty.
“We wanted this record to encourage people in those times. We wanted this record to be a weapon for faith — a weapon for your faith in the midst of struggle,” said Havens.
The Afters’ vocation as Christian artists is surely a weapon for faith.
“As a musician, I write about things I experience in life,” explained Havens, “and because my faith is so important to me it comes out in music.”
Despite his fortitude, Havens has also experienced heartache.
“There’s been a lot of times in my own life where my faith has been shaken,” he said. But he added, “You can face anything with God.”
“When my youngest son was born, I was in the hospital and he had to go to the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] for unexpected complications. There were days when the doctors couldn’t tell if or when he would ever get better. Those were long nights. They were scary times,” Havens said.
But he added, “Those are the things that have also strengthened my faith the most because I’ve seen God in those times.”
Havens shared the story of a fan who explained to The Afters how the band’s music saved his life.
“There was a show we had earlier this year where a guy came up to us [afterward], said he had been in the service and came back and had PTSD. He had served in the Middle East,” Havens explained.
“He had gotten really depressed and was going to take his own life,” he added. “And when he was in the process of taking his own life, in the background there was some music he heard and it just happened to be a song of ours called ‘Broken Hallelujah.’ He said it made him stop in his tracks and instead of taking his own life — he went and got help,” Havens said.
“That night, he came to the show and he brought his daughter, and he said that when we played ‘Broken Hallelujah,’ he looked down and his daughter was singing every word of the song with her hands lifted high. He said it occurred to him that if God hadn’t used that song to save his life, he wouldn’t be there watching her sing every word. I thought: Wasn’t that such a cool story of how God can use music?” Havens concluded.
“I hope this record will be an encouragement … to know that God is with you,” the musician added.
For others going through difficult times of their own, sometimes music can help in a way words can’t. And those who realize that are exactly the people The Afters are looking to touch with their new album.