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Christian Living

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Fortune and Fame Don't Distract Journey Keyboardist from Faith

Matt Vilkas - 700 Club Producer
Shannon Woodland - 700 Club Producer

Journey keyboardist, rhythm guitarist and songwriter, Jonathan Cain, didn’t plan on being in one of the most popular bands in rock n’ roll history.  Inspired by his dad’s faith, he wanted to become a priest.

Jonathan explained, "I would watch him pray as a boy and, 'What are you doing?'  you know?  And, 'Why are you crying?'  and, 'Those are tears for Jesus.'  And so, "I want to pray too, Dad.  How can I get Jesus?'  you know?  So by the time I had my first communion I was right there.  I mean, me and my Jesus were like right there.  And I had the glow.  Cause he'd say, 'Well, it's like a glow inside, Jon.  Once you get Jesus it's a glow.'"

But on December 1st, 1958, Jonathan’s faith was shaken.  He was a third grader at Our Lady of Angels School in Chicago when the building caught fire.  Eight-year-old Jonathan and others escaped, but 92 children and 3 nuns died.   

"I was waiting for Jesus to stop it," said Jonathan.  "Surely there'll be a miracle, you know?  But it was just devastating.  And I wanted to know why those children had to go like that?  'Why, why, why,' you know?  And then I said to my father, 'I've got to go secular.  I can't do this school anymore,' because all I saw was fire trucks, and I heard screams, and I just couldn’t concentrate on that place where that tragedy happened."

To help Jonathan get his thoughts off that horrific day, his father arranged accordion lessons.   And as he improved, his father felt God was telling him that his son's talents would be used in a big way.

Jonathan said, "He would tell the people, 'What's your son going to do with these accordion lessons?'  'My son is going to be a famous songwriter and play for ten thousand people a night.'  'Really, Dad?'" After a slight laugh, Jonathan continued, "And I received it.  Now I knew he was on to something.  I never doubted him.  I just didn't know when it was going to happen."

As a teenager, Jonathan learned piano and started playing at parties and clubs.  He also drifted further from God.   Then at seventeen, he went to a church service with his girlfriend.

Jonathan said, "There was an altar call and the pastor found me, he laid hands on me, I melted on the floor.  They put the blanket on me, the covering, and I cried.  And it all came out.  And I realized how numb I had been, you know, especially to my Christ."

But Jonathan’s faith quickly took a back row seat, as he spent the next ten years pursuing his dream of becoming a rock n' roll star.  Then, in 1980, Jonathan got his big break when he was asked to join a band on the rise called Journey.

The following year, he co-wrote Journey’s biggest hit, Don’t stop Believin'.  He says that and many of his other lyrics for songs like Faithfully and Open Arms are actually a reflection of his on again, off again, relationship with God.

Jonathan explained, "You can take the song Faithfully, 'Oh God, you stand by me.  I'm forever yours faithfully.'  It's like well, 'I come to you with open arms, nothing to hide, believe what I say.'  And, 'Here I am with open arms, hoping you see what your love means to Me.'  That's God.  I mean, pure and simple."

As Journey played to sold-out venues around the world, it seemed Jonathan’s dad had been right about God’s plan for his life.  But the money, fame and life on the road continued to erode his faith and his relationships.  His first two marriages ended in divorce.

"It's so hard," said Jonathan.  "It takes its toll on you and it's not reality, you know?  And it pulls at you and you get lonely out there, and you do stuff sometimes that you wouldn't do.  And you would choose friends that you normally wouldn’t choose."

Then, while on the way to their next concert, Jonathan met Pastor Paula White on the plane.  And soon, they started dating.  

Jonathan asked Paula, "Is it possible to get that pure, innocent, love for Christ? Because it's the only way.  He's our bridge, you know, to everything, is Jesus."

As the relationship grew, Paula took Jonathan to Ghana to meet a man who had greatly influenced her faith.  Jonathan was so moved during the visit that he re-dedicated his life to Christ and asked to be baptized.

"I remember coming out of the water like, 'Whoooo!' Jonathan said with an excited laugh.  'That's it.'  And I surrendered that moment, you know.  'All in.  All in, GOD!'  And it was a reawakening of that little boy."

In April 2015, Jonathan and Paula married.  Today, he still tours with Journey at packed out arenas around the world.  He also has a new Christian album called, "What God Wants to Hear."

"It was just a flowing experience going into the studio with this music and sharing it with my musician brothers.  And I think we made it in probably nine days, the whole thing, it just flew," explained Jonathan.  "And I felt HIS wind in my sales, and I thought, 'Thank YOU, thank YOU, thank YOU.'  I've been in a lot of album projects, but this one was supernatural.  I’m going to be signing it for some fans, and I’m going to be talking about faith.  And if I see somebody that wants a prayer, I’ll lay hands on them, I will pray with them.  And now I have my Christ to shine.  So when I go on stage, I bring HIM with me, you know.  And it's like, 'Wow, does that ever feel good!'"

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