As anyone who was around me in college, and they will tell you I was addicted to the music of Matthew Ward. My roommate made the “mistake” (his words) of giving me Ward’s “Toward Eternity,” his first solo album released in 1979. I had heard Ward from some old Second Chapter of Acts tapes and saw why they were considered a pioneer group in the Christian music industry when they came on the scene in 1974.
I found Ward’s book very enlightening. Mainly, this book served to give stories and anecdotes of his life and is an easy read. This book serves well in showing how God’s steadfast and enduring love helps one persevere through the most painful of times. Ward understands what it means to lose a father and a mother within a two year span during his formative teenage years. Through God’s divine providence, he came to live with his older sister and brother-in-law (Buck and Annie Herring), who became an incredible Christian influence in his life. Thanks to a random time around a piano in front of rocker-turned-Christian Barry McGuire, Matthew and his sisters Annie and Nelly sang such unbelievable harmonies together, that Barry took them on tour with him as back-up singers. This was the birth of “Second Chapter of Acts.”
The most touching portion of the book was the portion that addressed his bout with testicular cancer in 1993. He shares much about how this affected him physically and spiritually, and how this affected his family as well. He went into great detail about the entire process—from finding the cancer to the chemotherapy to the recovery. Some may find these details gruesome, and others may wonder why Ward seems to make light of his situation (saying upon the entry of the chemo drug entering his body, “Here comes the poison”), but I personally appreciated the honesty. He shares these details to help the rest of us understand how significant and painful this process is, but also to give others who are struggling with this issue that he understands. All through this, he deals honestly with His walk with the Lord (both the ups and downs) and how Christ helped him to persevere through it all. Toward the end of that chapter (entitled “Uninvited Guest”), he provided this helpful insight:
During and after my ordeal with cancer, the Lord began to show me in big and small ways that I was truly on His mind and that He was indeed concerned with those things that concerned me. I learned to see the father heart of God for the first time, and I began to see myself as His son. Of all the lessons I learned, that—by far—was the greatest. (174)
From this experience, God led Ward to release a worship CD that (in my opinion) is one of the most powerful and worshipful CDs you’ll hear: “My Redeemer.”
While this book does contain seemingly random stories about Matthew’s life, the biggest value for me was Chapter 17 (“Musing on Music”), which outlines the advice he gives to aspiring singers who wish to delve into the Christian music industry.
I always try to find out right away why people want to get involved in Christian music. The way I see it, music ministry is something that requires a call from the Lord. Even when people have the musical gifting that would allow them to perform Christian songs, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should do it—not if they haven’t been called to that kind of service by God. … I ask, “Do you want to entertain or to minister?” (204)
He also asks, “Do you want to get involved in music because it’s something you think you’d be good at or because it’s something that’s tugging at your heart?” His reasoning for asking is this: would they be happy and content singing in a small church in Kansas, or do they have to be on a big stage with lots of admirers? Along with these questions, Ward gives some of his helpful insights into the modern contemporary Christian music scene from an experienced perspective.
I found this book interesting simply because I am a fan of his music and ministry. Others who may not have that connection may find this book a bit scattered at times, but you can see how the Lord has used issues in his life to strengthen His walk and ministry to others. For more information about Matthew Ward’s ministry, check out his website at http://www.matthewward.com .