This last Wednesday night, September 30, around 250 students came to watch the Shawn McDonald concert, which didn’t just include him, but also two performers who opened for him: Jeremy Vanderloop and Jonathan Thulin.

Shawn McDonald performing.

Shawn McDonald performing.

Vanderloop started off the night with a pedal board compilation and showcased his skills as a guitarist and vocalist. Vanderloop, who originates from Clearwater, Florida, has an amazing energy in his performance and his personality is as big as his Gospel filled songs. His songs have a mixture of Indie, rock, folk and pop. He played through four of his songs and two hymns: “Nothing But the Blood” and “Amazing Grace”, which the audience joined in. In between songs he talked with the audience about his dad’s addiction and wanted to really voice to the students that “Jesus will meet you where you’re at.”

After his set, a video from One Child Matters played. The organization’s first goal is to share the Gospel with kids and the second is to get them food, water and schooling. They do this through sponsors’ donations. It’s $39 a month for each child and that money goes directly to the local church who then uses it in the best way for those kids. Their hope is that they don’t change the culture, but they can use it to reach the community for Christ.

After the video Vanderloop introduced Thulin to the stage, Thulin sat down at the piano and played through his first song “Dead Come to Life.” The audience was blown away by how powerful his voice was and how it penetrated the Psalm Center., Thulin talked about his story. He is the son of Swedish missionaries who moved to America to spread the Gospel in a “tour bus,” which is the “cool way” of describing his RV as a kid. Thulin began singing and performing at age 1 and at age 6 he recorded his first album with his family. He continued to speak about his life and of his wife and their marriage and how they decided to love one another after some hard times. He said, “Love is 100% a choice. We choose every day to love each other.” He continued with his songs “Zion,” “Dear Misery,” “The Ruins,” and he finished his set with “Architecture.”

He spoke so deeply about his faith and the addiction he had been through in his life, but finished by saying legacy is also a choice and love and legacy go hand-in-hand.

Another One Child Matters video played and Vanderloop shared what it was like for the kids who live in Mozambique. At the end of his description he asked the audience who felt led to sponsor a child and all seventeen of the kids they were hoping to get sponsored found someone willing to do that.

After this Vanderloop introduced Shawn McDonald who came on with his fellow musician Jeffrey Niemeier. McDonald grew up with his grandparents and became rebellious at a young age and turned to different substances. Through a close friend and the life-changing work of Jesus he was saved and has been a national performing artist for 16 years. The duo performed ten songs including “Gravity,” “Rescue Me,” “Firefly,” “All I Need,” “Closer,” “Rise,” and “Take My Hand.” McDonald switched between two acoustic guitars and Niemeier played a red bass ukulele, an electric guitar and a violin. McDonald talked about being born and raised in Bend, Oregon, he talked a little bit about his story, but mostly let his music speak for him.

Student Anne Marie Christensen said of McDonald, “I really liked how honest and real he was. I fully appreciated that.”

Travis Carr, ASB vice president of student ministries, closed the night with Jeremiah 33:2 and dismissed the crowd, and they rushed to talk with their favorite artists.

Student Dalton Kobs said of the night: “It was so sick. I’d never heard of any of these artists before, but I understand why everyone was so excited for them because it was awesome. And it was awesome to see God’s love through their music.”