2020 has brought more than its share of struggles this year, with businesses forced to close, artists forced to come off the road, and an entire world grappling with the effect of a global pandemic. It’s enough to make even the sturdiest waver in their faith, but not For KING & COUNTRY.
The sibling act, made up of brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, relied on their faith as they watched all of their tour dates get canceled or postponed this year, instead pouring their energies into their ambitious, 13-track A Drummer Boy Christmas, released in October. For KING & COUNTRY has also focused on finding the lessons history has taught us, which have brought about positive changes in the end, instead of focusing on all of the challenges they have faced, throughout this entire year.
“There’s been some very hard lessons in recent history that have proven that greatness can come out hardship,” Joel tells Everything Nash. “The most obvious one that we’ve faced that’s very frightful is American slavery. I believe that there is a rise happening in particularly the African-American community and the Hispanic community. My wife’s Hispanic. They were so incredibly oppressed for such a long time, and there’s such a great loss, and that should be recognized.
“There should be empathy and sympathy, and there should be from those of us that don’t share that common experience,” he continues. “There should be that rising up and being there and taking any kind of privilege we have, and using it to influence and change the future. But, strictly speaking, I believe that the African-American community, through such loss and hardship, has risen, and are rising.”
Although the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for so many people, the Australia native believes that good can still come out of the tragedy.
“For the first time in our lifetime, we have a global shared suffering,” Joel reflects. “It does not matter your creed, your color, your affluence level, the country you live in, the language you speak, the religion you believe in. We have shared suffering. At Christmas. I think there’s a great opportunity for us.”
Joel also cautions that much of how people move forward after 2020 depends on attitude more than anything else.
“I think there’s a great pothole that we could walk in, and we’ve all done it. And that is, ‘Just get me back to normal; just get me back to status quo,'” he acknowledges. “And then all of the loss of life, all of the economic tragedy, all of the setbacks that we’ve had in equality and all the rest of it because of what’s happened.
“But if we can channel this great loss and say, ‘No, no, no, no. Starting at Christmas, let’s get back to the true heart of Christmas.’ I love Santa Claus. I love mistletoe. I love hot chocolate, but let’s get back to the great hope of humanity, and then onward. Let’s not just get so obsessed with getting back to normal. Let’s actually become more giving, and more empathetic, and more gracious, and let’s lean into each other more than ever. Understand each other and understand different cultures, and different people’s positions and belief.”
Joel continues to rely on his Christian faith, which he hopes to use to encourage others, especially now.
“If you look at Jesus Christ in His life, which I’ve done a fair amount of study on the guy,” Joel says. “The guy was all ears. He would just listen to people, and He would offer insight and wisdom, but He was so accepting, and we’ve lost that. I think we’ve lost that in the Christian community. And so I’m hopeful that it starts with the Jesus followers and sort of trickles out, but we’ll get back to this, just loving each other. That was the command: love God and love people. Love your enemies even.”