Interview

Origins of Cultural Impact | Planetshakers

Socality is so excited to partner with Planetshakers for their 20th anniversary conference in Melbourne! Partnership and collaboration has always been at the core of Socality  so when we were invited to oversee community engagement for this momentous landmark conference for Planetshakers, we were honoured to be involved. With over 15,000 people in attendance, this conference will bring together passionate change makers from all over the globe. So what is Planetshakers and how has this movement had 20 years of culture shaping impact?! We wanted to introduce you (if you don’t know already) to Russell and Sam Evans who have been leading and guiding this movement from the beginning.

1. When did Planetshakers start and what is the backstory?

Russell Evans: Planetshakers started in 1997. The backstory is, in 1996 I was in a Conference and I had a powerful encounter with God. The fire of God came upon me, and I felt like God called to me to start a conference called ‘Planetshakers’.  I said to God “What’s that?” and He said “You’ll see.”

The Scripture Acts 1:8 popped out to me at that time - ‘You will received power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the outermost parts of the earth.” So we started a Conference with 300 young people, and it just exploded. God showed us step after step after step, and over the last 20 years He has just blown us away.

 Russell Evans

Russell Evans

Sam Evans: Planetshakers Conference started in January of the year 1997. It all began in response to an encounter Russell had with Holy Spirit. He came back to our youth group leaders at the time and said we were going to start a youth conference and call it Planetshakers. None of us knew what that looked like or what was about to take place but we all responded excitedly to this new adventure. There were many steps of faith along the way that saw it become a reality but one of the more significant ones was the night we took up a ‘miracle offering’ to help pay for the conference, to sow into Youth Alive and also church planting in the Philippines. It was an electric night as we all came with what we felt challenged by the Lord to give – for many it was a whole week’s wage. The anointing in that place was so strong and the worship was intense with tears streaming down our faces as we gave to the Lord. Little did we know that these acts of faith and obedience were setting us up for a powerful move of God.

 Sam Evans

Sam Evans

2. This year you are celebrating 20 years. Can you share a few highlights?

RE: There are so many highlights. Too many to count. One of the highlights early on was Rich Wilkerson Senior, who was a speaker in our 2nd year, preaching a sermon called ‘I want the Cross’. We had about 1,000 people at our Conference in that 2nd year, and in that sermon he talked about laying down your life for the cause of the Gospel. It culminated with challenging young people to give their lives for the cause of Jesus. Rich got everyone to stand to their feet and yell out “I want the Cross”. This literally shook something in the atmosphere over, I believe the nation of Australia, and it shifted something over our Conference. It created a momentum in the Spirit and after that the Conference began to go to a whole new level.

There was a meeting one time that Glen Berteau was speaking at, and in the middle of his sermon the people began to praise and shout. Glen couldn’t event get back to his sermon, because the meeting had gone into a place of powerful praise. They actually praised at over 122 decibels for 20-30 minutes.

There were meetings with Benny Perez where miracles were just so numerous. The meeting went until 2am in the morning.

I suppose some of the things that mark and highlight the Conference for me is the people’s hunger for God. We’ve had people lining up at 6am for a 9am service; thousands of people lining up at 2pm in the afternoon for a 7pm service. Going to different cities and seeing an explosion in different cities; Reinhard Bonnke speaking a session on the ‘Fire of God’; Chris Hill on the ‘Seven Steps of Praise’. There are just so many. Every time, God moves.

SE: A few highlights for me would be the day that we all started cheering and shouting to the Lord our praise. The shout was so loud and the intensity so strong one thought that it would quickly die down but it just kept going and going and going. Nearly half an hour later we stopped. It was a supernatural praise that saw so many people set free and encounter God so powerfully.

The year that we had to go to 2 night services because we couldn’t fit everyone in the building. The lines to get in were so long and the young people would then get to the venue at 6am just so they could get a seat close to front and not to miss out. They would chant and cheer and sing spontaneously as they waited expectantly in the auditorium as they waited for the night to start.

Our first conference in Brisbane was a highlight. We weren’t sure if it would be the same kind of revival fire that we had experienced in Adelaide but it was! That year, my children who were still quite young had their first experience with God where they both fell under the power of God without anyone touching them. It was life defining for them as they watched Reindhart Bonnke minister.

After one of Robert Morrises sessions where Natalie Ruiz began to sing spontaneously to the Lord – the tangible presence of God in that room was electric. We were all so powerfully moved. Amazing!

3. What have been some obstacles you have faced and needed to overcome as an organization/church?

RE: One of the major obstacles that we’ve had to overcome is growth. Growth is exciting, but it’s also a challenge. Venues - after you start in churches you then have to hire public buildings, which take costs from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Then going to different states and taking conferences and touring to nations.

And then after seven years of conferences we then started a church. Then we had to juggle running a church and running five conferences across Australia at the same time. Then there are transitional seasons where God speaks to you about changing. And then how do you pay for everything?

So it’s really all about hearing God’s voice in each moment, and then taking steps of faith and telling God “I’m going to trust in You”. I think the biggest challenge is trusting Him in the moment, and believing that He has the right strategy for the right season. We can’t rely on yesterday’s strategy, but today’s strategy.

And over 20 years of conference, we haven’t had one loss in a Conference. God has blessed us every year. It’s amazing.

SE: Paying for each conference has always been a challenge. For some reason, I think that people think that we are rich. Haha. But every year is a step of faith for us financially, especially when God speaks to you to make the registration cost only $20! Also, everyone registers so ‘last minute’ and that puts a huge financial strain upon us because so many of these companies that we work with want to be paid before the event. Each year has meant we have to pray and ask God for the strategy to overcome this obstacle. He is so faithful – He has always provided for us and we have been able to pay all our bills.

4. What has been the response around the globe to Planetshakers?

RE: When God first told me to start a Conference, we just started a Conference. But we look on now, 20 years later, and literally millions and millions of people have been impacted by that one obedient decision. Either through our conferences, which hundreds of thousands of people have attended through the years; our music which has touched hundreds of millions of people; whether it’s through TV; our church where tens of thousands of people have been saved (our church in Melbourne is now 14,000 people in 13 years).

Our passion is contemporary church that is relevant, prophetic and powerful. Not weird. Jesus spoke the language of the day, so he was relevant. But he also had power to back that up. I see the problems with the modern day church is that we have a lot of relevant churches that have no power, and we have a lot of powerful churches that aren’t relevant.

I think part of the impact that Planetshakers has had on the body of Christ is that it is one of the models that shows how relevance and power can be coupled together.

SE: The response to Planetshakers globally has been so positive. People get excited about our music and the amazing encounters that we have together all over the world. We get surprised by the invitations that we get from different parts of the world like Russia or China where we didn’t even think our music had reached. It’s always a blessing to join with people from different countries and languages to worship Jesus together.

5. How do you keep your vision fresh and relatable?

RE: To keep fresh and relatable you have to keep speaking the language of the day. Jesus was brilliant at this. When He spoke to tax collectors He spoke about taxes. When He spoke to fisherman He spoke about fish. So our music style has changed over the years, it’s constantly evolving to fit the language of the day. Daniel spoke Babylonian, but he didn’t let Babylon form him. Rather, he spoke prophetically into Babylon.

So we’ve made sure that we’ve remained relevant to the culture, but have not been consumed by the culture. But Jesus also had power. So prayer has been a significant part of all of our strategies. We’ve been led by the Holy Spirit, He’s the genius. He’s creative. So we’ve allowed him to lead us. It’s His movement, it’s not our movement, we’re just here to steward what He’s given us. So the way we’ve kept it fresh and relevant is to be guided by Him and not be guided by how we used to do things, or how we’ve always done things. Rather - what is He saying now?We’ve also kept fresh and relatable by using the principles of the Word of God, and not just going to where the Church culture is going, but going where God wants to move. You know, the challenge for the church is that so often what the church calls culturally relevant is actually 5 or 10 years behind where culture is actually at. I believe that church should be prophetic. It should be leading culture, not following culture. It needs to be in the culture, and understanding it, but bringing a prophetic edge to it. And at Planetshakers we’ve always tried to be in the culture, but also prophetic to the culture. I call it ‘New School in Presentation, but Old School in values’.

SE: I’m a seeker of God and I think that if you keep your focus on Him and never stop pursuing him he never stops filling you with passion and vision to see His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. I think also keeping a thankful heart enables you to keep your focus on where all these wonderful things in my life are coming from – God. It is not my talent or ability that is seeing the impact of Planetshakers it is God! That’s why I am dependent upon him constantly in everything I do. It’s Jesus that I want to keep lifting up not Planetshakers.

I am also an observer of what is happening in the world. I want to speak their language. I want them to be able to receive the good news of the gospel and I don’t really want to give them an excuse not to hear it. That’s why we want the presentation of our messages and our music to always be evolving. It’s always been about reaching the lost for me so that’s why I want to keep up with what is going on in the world. Our message has not changed but our presentation of that message will keep changing so that all can hear and receive.


Register for Planetshakers Conference Today!


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Finding that "aha" moment with Hearts Like Lions

Launching as a band in 2011, Hearts Like Lions officially released their first full-length album If I Never Speak Again last week! We are big fans of them at Socality, as you may remember hearing the sounds of this band at our Portland Socality Live in 2014!

Hearts Like Lions (HLL) is made up of 4 friends from Long Beach, California.

As the band are members of the Socality community, we wanted to share more about their story and inspirations for music and life. We recently got the chance to catch up with lead vocalist, Stephen "Da Man" Ramos to chat more about their recent release.

See our chat with Stephen Ramos below.

 photo courtesy  mensinkphoto.com

photo courtesy mensinkphoto.com

1. Where did you come up with the name Hearts Like Lions and what does it mean?

Stephen Ramos: My wife came up with the name about 6 years ago when we first started the band. We wanted a name to represent the passion and the courage to speak our minds through the music we write and play.

2. What inspired you to write this album?

SR: A lot of our lyrics stem from things I've experienced first hand or have seen friends/family that are close to me go through.  "If I Never Speak Again" is an album that can almost speak for itself with the title. A lot of lyrics talk about going through the motions of rough patches in my life and getting those emotions out in a different way. A lot has to do with people always having to feel the need to fix your problems and thinking that the way things work for them will also work for you. I believe there are definitely times for that but that people also need to just be willing to listen and let you know they are there for you in the moment.

 photo courtesy  mensinkphoto.com

photo courtesy mensinkphoto.com

3. What do you hope people walk away with when they listen to your music?

SR: Our hope is that people will find a connection through these songs on a deeper level. That "aha" moment as they have been in those same situations or know exactly what we are talking about. Then through that, having conversations with each other and building relationships!

4. What are the plans for HLL in 2017?

SR: Tour, tour, and tour! We are going to be traveling and playing shows as much as we can this year to support our new album. 

5. Who are your inspirations?

SR: Our inspirations are all over the place depending on who you talk to! But for this album definitely a lot of Young The Giant, Bad Suns, and Taking Back Sunday!

Make sure to pick up a copy of their latest album and catch Hearts Like Lions on tour this year! For local dates click below.

If I Never Speak Again on iTunes | Spotify | Official Website

Follow Hearts Like Lions Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Check out track sample below. 

KK intl. | Launch of The World's Greatest Beanie

Socality is honored to partner and share the story of Krochet Kids intl. Recently, our team was able to travel to Peru with the team from KK intl. to capture and share the story of this incredible organization. As a company, they operate with ethics that bring value to every individual, whether it be the consumer of the manufacturer. Their efforts to bring sustainability to developing nations is something to be admired.

We are pleased to partner with their latest project, help create their newest video and share the story of the "World's Greatest Beanie" which is a product made with the highest quality fabric, ethically produced and traces back to every hand that has been involved in creating it. We encourage you to read, watch, learn and if so willing, share the story and Kickstarter of this incredible organization.

Read more about KK intl. with an interview from CEO & Co-founder Kohl Crecelius below.

1. What is the heart and story behind Krochet Kids intl.?

The organization was founded by three of us friends who had a passion for serving and caring for those living in extreme poverty around the globe. Our love of travel introduced us to many of the people who lived as one of the statistics that we would read about in text books or see on the news, however, we learned very quickly that these people were so much more.

They were humans, full of life and dreams and hopes for their future.  When we asked what we could do to help them, they didn’t ask for food or money, they asked for jobs. They wanted to work and provide for themselves and their own families. They wanted to break the cycle of poverty and dependency that had (in some ways) been created by other organizations.

So, we started leveraging a few connections we had with organizations who worked on the ground in Uganda, and we taught a small group of women how to crochet headwear, because it was a skill we had.

2. Why Peru?

After working in Uganda for 3 years, we realized there was an opportunity to expand our product offering, as well as the impact we were generating. We honed in on South America due to its rich history of textiles and apparel and again, worked to network with some local organizations on the ground.  We centered on a community in Peru that was on the outskirts of Lima — the capital city. The area was in need of community development and empowerment, so we set up our second empowerment project there in 2010.

3. How is KK intl. making an impact in Peru and it's people?

Our mission as an organization is to empower people to rise above poverty. We do this through a specific and measured theory of change that incorporates jobs, education, and mentorship for every woman who participates in our programs. We track their progress over 45 different key indicators so we can see the clearest picture of their development over time.

Our ultimate goal is to equip the women in our programs to be change agents in their community. Our work is designed to graduate women out of our system and into locally sustainable careers and businesses. In this way, they are able to truly pursue their dreams and the things they’re passionate about.

4. What would you like to see over the next 5 years - especially as far as raised consumer awareness goes? 

I would love to see consumers making conscious purchasing decisions based on where their products are made and the working conditions of those people who created them. We’re in interesting times at the moment, where many of us care about (or try to be aware of) where our food comes from. We buy cage-free chickens, but we turn a blind eye to understanding how our clothing is made.

This is needs to change, and we’re hoping projects like the “World’s Greatest Beanie” raise the level of awareness for why this matters.


5. How is KK intl. raising the bar when it comes to providing an alternative to fast fashion? And will you share a little more about the #knowwhomadeit hashtag and it's importance.

Since we started in 2007, we have made a conscious effort to highlight the person behind every product that we make. As a result, each piece we have ever made has been hand-signed by the woman who made it. We invite our customers to learn more about the woman who made their product by viewing her specific profile on our website — HERE.

As we say, we believe products have value because people do. We urge our supporters to share the hashtag #knowwhomadeit and to engage in an important conversation about how we value the products that we purchase.

6. Why do you support efforts like Socality?

I love to see people who trying to think outside the box and bring community together in meaningful ways. As much as social media is aimed at connecting us, the reality is that it continues to isolate and alienate us through comparison. I love that Socality is trying to infuse purpose and meaning in these tools that are becoming known to self-promotion and narcism. It’s not easy, and you don’t have all the answers, but that doesn’t stop Socality from continuing to try, and that’s what I enjoy seeing.

7. How would you like to encourage our community?

A couple things…
1) Be mindful of your purchases and realize you are voting with your dollar when you choose to support brands by purchasing their products. Buy things you need and that you feel good about.

2) Authenticity is becoming a bit of a buzzword these days, however, it’s all we have at the end of the day and it’s what our legacy will be. Share your story, the good with the bad. Welcome people into your life and don’t worry about generating a facade that people will like. Believe me, I struggle with this same thing and it’s something I’m working to improve.  Keep at it.

 CEO & Co-founder Kohl Crecelius

CEO & Co-founder Kohl Crecelius

kohl_title.png

For more information about Krochet Kids intl. or the World's Greatest Beanie visit their website.

World Food Day | Interview with Paul Newnham

Today, is World Food Day around the globe. Each day, 795 million people wake up food insecure, uncertain how they will feed their families over the next year. We recently interviewed Paul Newnham of World Vision and HungerFree. Learn more about his story and the new approach to tackling hunger in Kenya and South Sudan. Together we can end hunger, even in heard to reach places.

1. Tell us a little more about yourself? Where you are from and where do you currently live?

I’m an Australian living in Texas. My passion is youth engagement, and after some time in the Australian Army, and as a pastor, I had several opportunities to work with youth in multiple spheres, including roles with World Vision in Australia, New Zealand and Latin America.

In my work I’ve been fortunate to visit nearly half the world’s countries and live in the developing world for long periods, including Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

I’m married to my high school sweetheart and we have four adventuring children. My wife Keren and I write about life’s challenges, adventures and opportunities at www.thisonedayislife.com.

My latest project as the World Vision International Global Youth Engagement Director is a global collaboration to forge a new approach to tackling hunger with a focus on youth livelihood’s in Kenya and South Sudan. You can check that out at www.hungerfree.org.

2. Where did the idea for HungerFree come from?

HungerFree originates from a belief that a hungerfree world is possible. For far too many people, hunger is the only reality they know, and while we’ve made some significant progress over the last few decades, there are still generations of people who are still stuck – they either don’t know where their next meal might come from or don’t know whether they can withstand life’s setbacks.

HungerFree aims to break those cycles by unlocking the potential of young people. In my capacity as Global Youth Director for World Vision, I look at how we can engage and connect young people globally –from developed and developing countries. What I’ve learned is that no matter where you are in the world, this generation doesn’t want to be your traditional supporter or traditional beneficiary. They want to be on the front end of change.

It’s no different on the issue of hunger. The young people I’ve met in Kenya and South Sudan are looking to be free of hunger so that they can provide for their families and make their communities a better place.

When we looked at what it would take to live in a hungerfree world, we found there was a real gap in serving young people. In Kenya and South Sudan, where we are piloting this initiative, more than half of the population is under the age of 25 and are disproportionately affected by hunger, extreme poverty and unemployment. Luckily, we also found some phenomenal stories that are the basis for the work we are looking to grow to scale.

3. What projects will HungerFree be directly supporting?

The primary means in which the HungerFree initiative will come alongside young people in Kenya and South Sudan is through programming typically called “Food for Assets” or “Cash for Assets.” This programming provides access to immediate food needed today while also providing the skills, education, and productive assets to become hungerfree for a lifetime. Typically, this programming has not targeted younger adults – but by coupling it with youth life skills and livelihood programmes, we believe this can be used to give young people the investments they need to be viable and successful.

In addition, HungerFree will integrate young people into existing World Vision food assistance programming, such as agriculture production, safety nets, and advocacy work.

4. Practically, what will be accomplished on the ground in Kenya and South Sudan?

Young people will go from not knowing what their future might look like to cultivating their own to cultivating their own asset – such as raising chickens, growing pineapples and fish farming – in order to provide food and generate incomes. This type of work makes all the difference in food insecure communities, where food is expensive and scarce. It provides a way to have food in the present while generating income to have food in the future. We are also providing the tools and education young people need to continue to live HungerFree for a lifetime.

5. Are there other countries you will be focusing on in the future?

There’s a lot of interest in how we can better invest in young people and address the unprecedented youth unemployment gap that is happening in the developing world. More than half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25 – and as much as 80% of the unemployed our youth. Our hope is that our initial pilots in Kenya and South Sudan are successful, so that we can then take this approach and build on World Vision’s extensive food programming in other countries as well.

6. Explain your thoughts behind the approach the help HungerFree through celebrating food.

When we were planning the launch of HungerFree we brainstormed a lot of ideas. We have some good friends from the Misfit Foundation and the idea came up with them to celebrate food on World Food Day by gathering people to share a meal around a table.

We think God created a world a world where everyone should get to enjoy good food, so we wanted to lean in on the idea and see if we could use HungerFree to unlock that reality for others. We are all for fasting as well but believe it is an "and," not “either/or”!

7. Why do you think having a meal together is of value?

Gathering around food is a universal way to show we value each other; the table is a place of great conversation and engagement between family and friends. It is also the place where we discuss issues we all face. In my family we prioritise gathering to laugh, share and discuss life. It is a great place to engage on the issues of hunger and inequality, then discuss ways you, your friends and your family can make a difference.

8. Are there other ways people can support throughout October or long-term besides hosting a meal?

Absolutely! This is just the first step in launching this new platform. We are going to have year-round opportunities for people to get involved. You can stay up to date on those and help us now by:

- Telling your friends – help us get more people on board by sharing content from our social channels: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

- Learning more by signing up - Keep in touch and be given tools to understand more how your choices and actions can help make a difference to reduce hunger and create hungerfree communities at https://www.hungerfree.org/#jointhemovement

- Partnering with us – We’ve had some amazing partnerships develop with restaurants, food bloggers and amazing communities like Socality. If you’d like to use your influence to support our vision for a #hungerfree world, we’d love to partner with you!

9. Can you give us one story from your efforts so far in Kenya or South Sudan as it relates to a individual or community? a testimony?

I met a 24-year old man named Erastus in an isolated community inland from the Kenyan coast. He is regularly food insecure, the sole supporter of his family (having lost his parents at a young age), and had to mature rapidly in order to keep his family together. However, Erastus is unique in that he completed high school through the help of World Vision and is part of the Cash for Assets programme, which allowed him to purchase a small clutch of chickens.

Beside his small, 2-room house he has built a chicken coop.  He raises the chickens, and then sells them.  His chicken business is growing very quickly, as chickens are a popular commodity, and he uses the money he makes to pay for his siblings to finish school. As we chatted to him we could see that despite his difficulties, he had an inner hope.

It was when we walked inside the house that we saw an example of this hope, and it will stay with me for a long time to come. He had drawn up - in amazing detail - the house he is hoping to build with the profits from the chicken business.  He shared the details with me and the excitement he had was infectious.  I was so encouraged to see his dream – a dream that we all have in some way: to prosper, to move forward, to be successful and to provide for our families. HungerFree helps make these dreams possible for young people like Erastus.

You can read more of his story here.

10. What lessons do you think North American culture can learn from those in Kenya/ South Sudan?

What always blows my mind when I am in very remote communities is the generosity people show. They may be only able to have one meal a day, but will offer to share what they have with you. I think this generosity is very humbling and makes me realize the responsibility we with plenty have to model this.

The other things are joy & faith. Many people I meet who have very little show such joy and faith in the way they live. Despite the challenges they face, they demonstrate a joy in the way they work, live, and engage and a strong faith that God will provide and look after them.  

Why We Roast | Cause Roast

We are excited to announce that Cause Roast is partnering in our October Initiative with HungerFree! Recently, we interviewed Aldo Lihiang the Co-Founder of Cause Roast. Their goal is to provide high-quality, fair-trade coffee that gives 50% back to the world's greatest causes. Read more about their heart below.

1. Aldo, tell us more about Cause Roast.

Jarrid Wilson and I started Cause Roast almost 4 months ago, we have been talking about doing something together for a year or so and 2015 became the year that we really turned our conversation into reality. High Quality, Fair-Trade Coffee that gives 50% back to the world's greatest causes and needs. Every bag of coffee purchased will help change the life of someone in need.

2. Why have you chosen coffee as your focus?

Naturally we want to start a social good company, we are both coffee lovers and wanted to see how we can giveback to different causes and needs through coffee. After research we knew that Coffee is a great vehicle to give back and through the research we've found that Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, equivalent to 146 billion cups of coffee per year, making the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world. Not to mention, coffee represents 75% of all the caffeine consumed in the United States. So we decided, why don't we could tap into this statistical truth and help make the world a better place, one coffee cup at a time.

3. What kind of support or causes have you been involved in in the past?

Every month we partner with a different non-profit and give back to. So far we have been have been able to partner with charity: water, IMME.Org, Experience Missions, and now HungerFree.

4. How can others support Cause Roast or get your coffee?

At the moment we are an online based company. People can support us by purchasing a bag through our website causeroast.com.

As well as spreading the word about Cause Roast by supporting us through the social media platform. Follow us on social media, repost our social media posts and by  using our hashtag #causeroast.  A pop-up shop is in the works in Downtown Los Angeles area and should be announced very soon, we're very excited about that. So keep checking our social media and website for more details.

5. Why are you excited to partner with HungerFree and Socality?

Hunger initiatives are very important, we found that 842 Million people in the world are hungry and malnourished. One third of all deaths in Children under the age of five in developing countries, are linked to malnutrition. We are living in a country that waste 33.79 million tons of food, while there are millions of people that are malnourished on a daily basis, it just pains us so much to see these statistics. Which is why when we heard about HungerFree's and Socality's partnership, we wanted to be part of this movement. We want to be an example while also be an encouragement to other businesses to take action towards being socially conscious and give back. We believe together we can help change the world. 

For more information or to buy or support Cause Roast visit their website below.