On 29th to 30th of January, Planetshakers from Australia – a local church of over 10,000 people spanning across five campuses – hit the shores of Malaysia once again to fan the flame of revival amongst youths in Asia.
Christianity Malaysia had the incredible opportunity to sit down for a chat with Senior Pastor Sam Evans and Joth Hunt of Planetshakers, who shared their love for roti and their remarkable ability to recite its menu better than a local.
But while roti has been an attraction to the team, it was really the voice of God that drew them to Malaysia.
“We try to be very obedient to what God wants us to do. And we have lots of Malaysians in our church back in Melbourne. We love you guys!” said Pastor Sam.
When asked about what they do off-stage, Joth Hunt stressed how they are first and foremost “man and woman of God who happen to play music.”
“We don’t find out identity in playing music. It’s just something we do… So yea, I mean people do see us onstage. But we are normal people. We like to go to movies. We like to play golf – I do, she doesn’t – we like sports,” said the talented music director, songwriter, and producer of Planetshakers.
Pastor Sam added, “Yea, we are normal. I think one of the ways we can judge whether someone is authentic about God is sometimes how their children turned out.”
The Russell’s children love God and the church.
“And that’s because Russell (Evans) and I are the same at home and at church. So, the consistency and the authenticity at Planetshakers is something that we strive to keep.
“We are not performing Christianity. It’s not something we put on. But it’s something we live by every single day,” said Pastor Sam.
The team typically start their day first with Jesus – devotions, prayers, and worship – before going through their every day work trying to glorify Him.
“We don’t always get it right but the intent is to do that. And yea, I just think that because of that authenticity, it’s inspiring other people that this life of Christianity is not too far out of reach. We can live this and not just perform it.
“Even the whole team – every single person you see on the platform – has a personal relationship with God and they are the real deal.
“And that’s why I think there’re times when we’re going to different countries that we don’t even know. But we carry the tangible presence of God with us, because He’s real to us every single day,” she continued.
When asked how they abide in the presence of God despite their busy schedule, Pastor Sam shared how her relationship with God is not limited by the traditional way of having devotion and reading the Bible.
“I haven’t segmented God in my life, in that way. I mean I have a constant communication with Him. I don’t know how you guys go with the Holy Spirit – speaking in tongues – but I do all of that, and worshipping Him.
“It’s just having that constant communication rather than putting God into this time zone or church. ‘I am going to talk to you now’ and ‘now, I am going through my day and forget about you.’ That is sort of not what works out for me,” she said.
She shared how she would talk to God about everything, which kept her from being religious in her relationship with God.
Most importantly, aside from talking to God throughout the day, Pastor Sam also tries to keep her heart clean and free from hurts and disappointments.
“You know, we work on the conditions of our hearts a lot, so that way you have free access to God. The Bible says that we can come boldly into his throne any time because we are His Children. We can run to Him.
“But you know, many of us because of the things going on in our heart, we will stick away from God. He says, ‘I will never leave you.’ So, God doesn’t move. But we move.
“So, keeping your heart right before God means that you are constantly pursuing Him or leaning over Him or being attentive towards Him. So, that’s where you keep that consistency,” she added.
On a practical side, with a growing church of over 10,000 people, they were asked how they are planning to bring up the next generation.
“We are raising champions that will take the baton from us one day. Some churches focus on the practical skills and some are really spiritual. But we want the best of both side because when God’s with you, you can be best across the board,” said Joth Hunt, adding how they are raising ‘musicianaries,’ which are missionaries who are musicians.
Pastor Sam agreed and said, “Trusting the next generation is very important. As a senior pastor, you can think, ‘Well, I know better, I am anointed, I have more experience’ and not trust the next generation.”
“That’s something my husband (Pastor Russell Evans) is really good at. It might not be perfect. But he just opens the door for them and gives them the room to improve.
“He gives them the trust that God is in them. So, of course God is going to move. And while the next generation might not do like I do, well am I going to shut it down because it’s not the way I do it?
“You know, having that ability to just let go – new styles of music or even styles of speaking – just let go, so that the next generation have that opportunity and not hang on to everything till we are dead.”
In Planetshakers, opportunities to serve the church as a musician, could span from a connect group to the church.
Called Creative Discipleship, all musicians in Planetshakers will also meet together once a month, where they will cast the vision and praise and worship under one roof.
Finally, when asked if they have any shout-outs for the young people in Malaysia, Joth shared, “Just be the best you can be for God. Live for God literally in everything you do.”
Pastor Sam Evans added, “I tell the same. You know, the desires in your heart, don’t be afraid. Just step out and go for it with your heart.”
Planetshakers will be coming to Malaysia next year, on 20 – 21 January 2017. See you there!
Noted: All pictures taken for the Planetshakers Awakening 2016 in Malaysia are credited to Planetshakers. Also, although this article has not been vetted by Planetshakers, it has been written based on the audio recording of Pastor Russell Evans’ sharing.
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