Visions of Hope

By Jenny Bennett | managing editor,
Posted: Mon, 11/09/2009 - 22:25

album promo image for Visions of Hope

By Jenny Bennett, contributing writer,

For its near-10-year history as a band, Canadian-born Downhere has been working with World Vision, a charity dedicated to tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. This Christmas, the band members suggest an alternative to the usual hustle and bustle of gift-giving. And when their busy schedule makes a break for the holidays, the guys may do Christmas a little bit differently this year.

"Culturally here, Christmas is a time to buy gifts for everybody. We wring our hands every year, 'man, what do I get this person who has everything?'" says drummer Jeremy Thiessen. "With World Vision we can send $25, $50, $100 overseas to our sponsored child and we get pictures back later on in the new year of our child, and of the goat, or the blankets, or the schoolbooks. It's just really cool to know that the very small amount of money we send over there goes so far and will get them things that they need."

A Christian charity that works with children, families, and their communities worldwide, World Vision serves close to 100 million people in nearly 100 countries, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. (You can read Ayiesha Woods' World Vision
story here.)

When it comes to ideas for what to get our friends and family this year, bassist Glenn Lavender relays that even a small gift through World Vision could help someone overseas in a life-changing way.

"You can do the same thing you do every year and buy gifts you may not necessarily need, or for the person in your life who has everything, you can do the goat or do the chickens, or my personal favorite – the bee hive – in honor of the person you're giving a gift to," says Lavender. "You buy a bee hive for somebody in Africa and they have a business they can start."

A lifelong relationship
World Vision has been a particularly important part of Downhere's story as a band. Indirectly, the organization played a role in getting the group together. Co-lead singer Jason Germain and Lavender were in different independent bands at the time they
met – at a World Vision artist retreat in Florida. Through the years, World Vision has continued to help define the band members' sense of purpose.

"I had been to a couple of concerts where the front men would talk about World Vision and sponsoring a child," says Germain. "It was actually at a concert where I went and talked for the very first time to a World Vision rep. about getting involved. I didn't have any money to sponsor a child but hey, I thought, 'I've got a platform.'"

That purpose has permeated Downhere's creative process too.

"As artists, one of our specialties is to paint pictures for people in our songs and to connect a kind of heady idea with your heart," says co-lead singer Marc Martel. "That's part of what our music is created for. But some day, we wouldlove to do a trip as a band with World Vision and have a physical experience with the work that they're doing."

Click here to check out an exclusive video of Downhereperforming "Good King Wenceslas" during their recent visit to GMC. Winners of the 2009 JUNO Award for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year, Canada's version of the GRAMMYs, Downhere's just-released Christmas album, How Many Kings: Songs for Christmas is available now.

"When you start sponsoring a child, it changes you," shares Lavender. "When we leave a show and know that 10 or 20 or 100 kids are sponsored, you can really say 'okay, it was worth being away from my wife and my kids' because we're making a difference."

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