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March 9, 2021

Creating hope: How “The Way” was created


Creating hope: How “The Way” was created
 

In April 2020, as the country remained on lockdown and people were scared and suffering, it became very clear that most of the summer events that are so important to evangelization, catechesis and faith building would be canceled. There would be no camps, no conferences, no retreats or missions. Even regular Sunday services (as we knew them) were simply not being held. For me and the band, this meant no rushing through the airports to make the next flight, no goofy antics that come with being on the road for weeks at a time together, no witnessing of what the Lord can do in people’s lives in such a powerful way throughout a week or weekend. In light of what was happening in the country, it seems like a small sacrifice, trivial almost. Yet, this summer would be different than the past 20 summers that I’ve spent in ministry, summers that have formed me, summers that have called me into deeper relationship with the Lord and with his people. I realized how much I depend on the community of believers and on the radical transformation that God can bring to get me through the dry times of the year, of my life. It’s not and has never been about me just showing up to play a few worship songs and calling it a day. It’s my life’s work, my calling and vocation, my service to the Church, and my prayer with the Body of Christ around the world. To not be able to do it brings a sadness and sense of loss. I also mourned the fact that our two teenagers would miss out on these experiences with their youth group. Though we’ve traveled to different events and camps together as a family throughout the years, they were mere spectators, and we’d waited and longed for the time when they’d be old enough to go out on their own and encounter the Lord in a deep and meaningful way with their peers. It was in these desires that I felt the urge, like many people, to do something. Anything. And we had nothing but time to do it — to create something that was good, that would bring people into communion with God and, hopefully, with each other.

We were home. Like so many around the world. We were talking about how the inability to gather might mean the loss of community and catechesis for so many. Then, standing in the kitchen one day, after what was probably my twenty-third trip to the pantry, my wife said to me, “You should create videos, so that people at parishes can have a common theme or prayer to unify them.” We talked for a long time about how people need a common bond now more than ever. We talked about how many speakers, musicians, clergy and ministers would be longing to share their knowledge and talent. We talked about what a gift it would be for youth groups, religious education classes, private schools, confirmation students and families — young families like ours — to sit and pray together. And just like that, The Way was imagined.

So, I reached out to my friend, speaker, consultant and author, Paul George. Paul agreed that themed episodes in an inviting, ‘living-room’ setting could be a powerful tool for all Christians who long to be connected, even when we’re apart. We partnered with producer JW Beatovich who caught the vision right away. He then cast ideas for what it might look like and how it should be shot. As we brainstormed and planned, we realized that the beautiful part of The Way is that it is not only valuable when folks are quarantined and isolated, but that it retains its significance well beyond a pandemic. It’s an evergreen idea that can be reused with different speakers and musicians to bring fresh new prayers and theological topics to believers and non-believers alike.

Admittedly, this process has been as much for me as for the audience for which it is intended. I think we all need healing in some way. Whether from a virus or some other physical, mental or spiritual poverty, we all need the hope that comes from our faith. We all need to hold on to the knowledge that we are surrounded by others who believe what we believe. We all need to connect with the Word, the Truth, with Jesus himself: the Way.

Learn more about Josh’s new 10-part video series promoting introspection, thoughtful prayer and a strong relationship with Jesus Christ.