Yesterday I received a huge gift of music from my friend Nathan Partain for the We are Family sound track: 46 minutes of instrumental music to be precise. Here’s the story.

I first met Nathan in Seattle. He had been part of a grunge band named Caesar’s Glass Box based in Nashville, Tennessee that signed with a big label. Check them out:

Unfortunately, after signing with the label, the band had imploded. Nathan, disillusioned, had traveled to L’Abri, Switzerland to process. When he came back to the states he decided that he would move to Seattle and learn the construction trade. On the way, he stopped at his uncle’s home who said that he felt Nathan was called to a prophetic music ministry in the church. Nathan thought that was interesting but his mind was made up to to become a union contractor. At least then he would make good money. Nathan had a friend from Nashville named Rick in Seattle. Rich happened to be leading music at Green Lake Presbyterian church where I served I met Nathan one Sunday when he was church shopping. He had visited Mars Hill, which was rapidly growing, and a new presbyterian church on Capital Hill named Grace, led by a gifted worship leader. He asked me what I thought about what church he should land at, I told him we needed him and his musical gifts at Green Lake. So Nathan decided to stay. We struck up a friendship, At some point, Nathan moved in with our family. I remember when his girlfriend at the time, Sarah Meeks, now Sarah Partain came to Seattle to visit Nathan.

Our home a base for him while he was training to be a union construction worker. Nathan was trying to figure out if construction was the right direction for his life. We had long talks about work and his life calling. I told him that I did not know about construction as the long term best fit, but I did know that God had given him musical gifts. I said that they were a field of his that he should plow, not neglect. Eventually Nathan decided to plow his field of music. He left construction and took a part-time job as Chief Musician at Green Lake. To pay the bills he also worked a full-time job at an automobile shop. He wrote some of his early prophetic hymns sitting at our piano. I think this is one of them:

Nathan and Sarah eventually got married. I was honored to travel to Nashville, have my first real southern BBQ, and be a part of their wedding. It will always be one of my favorites.

Nathan and Rick created a powerful worship culture  at Green Lake. When we were called by God to Redeemer, Indianapolis, it was hard to leave the worshipping community at Green Lake, mainly because of how Nathan ushered us into the presence of the living God week in and week out. Thankfully, my friendship with Nathan remained. Nathan and his band at the time, People You Meet, came out and played at the first Independent Music and Art Festival (IMAF) at the Harrison Center. Here’s a link to that album.

After I served six years in Indy, a full-time Worship Director position opened up I contacted Nathan and asked if he would be interested. He was. In 2008, Nathan and Sarah and their son Amos moved to Indy to lead Redeemer’s worship ministry. Nathan’s prophetic songwriting and musical gifts shaped Redeemer and have had a big impact across the country. I had the joy of serving shoulder to shoulder with Nathan. Every week we met and talked through the Scripture I would preach from. Nathan always had great thoughts for my sermon. So it was doubly hard when after seven years, in 2015, I told my brother that God was calling us to return to Seattle.  But thankfully, friendship isn’t shaken by distance. Nathan and Sarah and their kids visited us in Seattle, and they opened their home to me for the week I was in Indy doing interviews for the We are Family documentary. I share that story here:

A few months ago, I realized that We are Family was going to be much closer to three hours than the 1.5 hours I had originally planned on and that we were going to be short music. I needed to get a lot more music for the film’s sound track. To make matters worse, I was out of money to pay my musicians. I reached out to some friends and asked if they would make a musical contribution to the film as a gift. Three of them stepped up in huge ways. I’ve told the story of one of those friends, Eric Locke here. Another of my oldest and dearest friends, Kyle Liedtke, gave me the rights to use music from his two albums. Since that time, Kyle passed away. I will share that story at a later time.

Yesterday, David Lichty, my video editor and Associate Producer sent me a note that Nathan had given us 46 minutes – 46 MINUTES! – of instrumental music from his latest two albums, A Lovely Wait and The Beauty to Come. You can listen to, and buy, Nathan’s album on his blog. He’s got lots of great music for the church there. To get this instrumental music, Nathan worked with his guy who did the mixing and mastering, and on his own dime, got us the stem and WAV files for a number of the songs on these albums! Here’s one of the songs from A Lovely Wait.

Nathan, thanks so much for your immense contribution to this film, and to my life. Your friendship is very valuable to me!

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