Christian music is one of my favorite things in life. I love music and being able to hear inspiring messages in music that I enjoy is fun for me.
Michael Tait has been a big part of that for most of my adult life. As he and Toby McKeehan started DC Talk, those of us listening to Christian music on our home and car stereos were excited. They were so much better than other options we had.
From high school until today, I have followed Tati’s career. I don’t know that DC Talk — or now the Newsboys — have been within 50 miles of me that I didn’t make a point to go hear them.
But beyond my personal musical tastes, Michael Tait and the Newsboys meant a lot to me as a father.
My teenager, Blake, also loved the Newsboys. One year at WinterJam in Wichita, Kansas, he got up to the stage and Tait shook his hand while performing. Needless, to say, it was an exciting night for Blake and I had photos to capture the moment.
Dawit had very limited language skills when we adopted him in Ethiopia in 2011. He had a toddler’s limited vocabulary in Tigrinyan when his mother left him with the orphanage. In the year before we got to take custody, he learned to tell people he was hungry or needed to go to the bathroom in Amharic. He could also count to eight in English.
He would count as he walked down the 12 steps at the guest house where we stayed. He would count each time, “six, seven, eight ...” and then jump down to the bottom of the stairs because he didn’t know the other numbers.
You’ve never had more fun than taking a 4-year-old through a Frankfurt, Germany airport for a seven-hour layover. We couldn’t talk to anyone in the airport except each other. Dawit couldn’t even talk to us.
It wasn’t the best seven hours of my life, but we did learn that Dawit loved McDonald’s French fries.
That’s right, an American family took an Ethiopian kid for French fries in a German airport. It was like any other day.
For years after he became part of our family, Dawit enjoyed music, but not singing. The words came too fast for him and he couldn’t keep up. What everyone else enjoyed, he found frustrating.
But as his language skills improved, he found a band that he really liked. It just so happens that it was The Newsboys. He loved the chorus of the song God’s Not Dead because it used a word picture and once he figured out what it meant, it was like he had been let in on an inside joke.
He loved that song.
You could look in the back seat and see him singing at the top of his lungs, “God’s not dead, he’s surely alive. He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion.”
It was a big step for the kid who didn’t like singing because the words came too fast.
Newsboys lead singer Michael Tait once said, “You know music is very powerful. Sometimes the only way to get through to a kid is through the headphones.”
That is so true.
When the Newsboys brought their United tour to Shawnee, Oklahoma, I was excited to get to interview Tait about the upcoming concert. When I told him that story, he said we had to make sure he got to meet Dawit when they were in town.
The night of the concert, during a pause in the action the tour manager invited us backstage and Dawit got to meet Tait and take pictures with him. Later that night, he got to sing along live as the band sang their most popular song. He was in the back of the crowd, but he was giving it all he had.
I’ve been a huge fan of Michael Tait’s for many years and for many reasons. But when I got to personally experience his kindness and see him share the joy that his music brought to Dawit, that appreciation only grew.
When I was in high school, I never dreamed of meeting Michael Tait or having an Ethiopian son who would make that happen. I just liked his music.
I hope high school students who are graduating this week realize that some of the best things in their lives haven’t even occurred to them as a possibility yet.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at email@example.com.