by Chris Zweck
It’s a sunny October afternoon at Gympie State High School, Queensland. A group of students have gathered in the school’s outdoor amphitheatre to hear Christian hip-hop artist Patrick Davis perform.
Davis has a troubled past: his brother was murdered at a young age, and he spent much of his own life incarcerated. However, Davis ‘found God’ and now he travels America, Australia and the United Kingdom sharing his story of redemption. As Davis takes to the stage, his unique blend of hip-hop, reggae, soul and rock captivate the students, who are slowly engrossed by his message. As the group plays their final song, applause erupts. This is Live@theChapel—a grassroots music ministry that promotes contemporary artists with a Christian worldview.
Even though I’d left the church, God was still speaking to me through music
Since it began in 2009, Live@theChapel has become a permanent fixture in several churches across Australia. The success of the concept lies in its minimalistic approach. Bimonthly, a single Christian artist or a band is invited to a venue to play. The audience is given the chance to discover the artists’ life, to make a donation or purchase their music in support. It’s an intimate affair, where the impact music has had is exposed in its full rawness to an audience, helping them discover the artists’ musical journey.
It’s not surprising, then, that the event’s creator, Lutheran pastor Frank Rasenberger, has himself experienced a profound musical journey. The son of parents who migrated to Australia from Germany in the early sixties, Pastor Frank says music was always part of his life. ‘I’ve always had a passion for contemporary music. Music was always there—even during the times when I went away from the church’, he says. While his passion for music has never faltered, Pastor Frank admits that throughout his early years he struggled with faith. A firstgeneration Australian, he was raised in a nominally Christian household, where going to church was viewed more as a means of finding social inclusion than as an opportunity for worshipping God. ‘We would go to church once a fortnight or month’, he says. ‘We didn’t have home devotions or anything, so faith never became personal to me.’