Hello My Name Is Matthew West
THE SEASON OF SILENCE
Matthew burst into the Christian music scene in 2003. His hit, “More,” became the most played Christian Adult Contemporary song in 2004. His music became a mainstay at Christian radio with hits like, “Only Grace,” “History,” and “Next Thing You Know.” Matthew was touring with artists like Jeremy Camp and tobyMac and planned to hit the studio to record songs for a new album when he lost his voice. Doctors at the Vanderbilt Voice Center discovered a vascular polyp and hemorrhaged blood vessels on Matthew’s left vocal cord making it impossible for him to sing. Two courses of treatment included complete silence and surgery. Matthew’s entire life shut down. To make matters worse, Matthew couldn’t communicate with wife, Emily, and their daughter Lulu, then 1, without the use of a dry-erase board. This season of silence was a dark place for Matthew, who felt like nothing without his music. “Losing the very thing that you thought made you special is a leveling experience,” says Matthew.
During this time, Matthew recommitted himself to journaling. He was surrounded with thoughts like, What if I can’t sing anymore? What if my voice doesn’t sound the same? Matthew realized God was trying to get his attention in his silence. “I was faced with the reality that I had nothing and that I could do nothing to fix my circumstance.” As he continued to be still, Matthew’s prayer evolved from one of asking God to fix his situation to asking him to reveal Himself to him. “In my real fear, I found His presence,” says Matthew. “In my real weakness, I found His real power. And in my real confusion, I found His real plan.” As God answered his prayers, He made things very clear for Matthew. One day, Matthew said he felt the Lord was going to give his voice back to him so he could be the voice for others. Almost a year after his ordeal, Matthew stepped into the recording booth. “Through the entire trial and season of silence, the voice and the presence of God had become so real to me,” he says. Afterwards, he started collecting stories of personal testimonies how God moved in the lives of others. (He has collected over 40,000 so far.)
HELLO MY NAME IS
Matthew received one such story from a young man named Jordan. The very first sentence of Jordan’s letter to Matthew read, “Hello, my name is Jordan and I’m a drug addict.” Jordan had been a preacher’s kid but in his sophomore year of college, Jordan broke his ankle and became addicted to a prescription pain medication. Jordan hit rock bottom, got kicked out of college and was stripped of his scholarship. His parents begged him to get help so Jordan entered a yearlong Christian recovery program called Teen Challenge. Jordan began to find his real identity and realized that the name tags which were placed on his life, Athlete, Preacher’s Kid, etc. did not define him. Jordan embraced his new identity in Christ, finished college and earned his master’s degree. Today he is a teacher. The last sentence of his letter said, “I no longer introduce myself as an addict. Instead I can say, ‘Hello, my name is Jordan and I am a child of the One True King!’” Jordan’s story inspired Matthew so much that he wrote the hit song, “Hello My Name Is.”
A young man named Rob was on drugs and in jail. His mom agreed to bail him out only if he attended a Christian concert with her. Rob agreed. It was Matthew’s concert and that night he performed “Hello My Name Is.” Afterwards, Jordan shared his battle with addiction on stage. His story was an arrow aimed straight at Rob’s heart, who surrendered his life to Christ that night. After the concert, Rob emailed Matthew’s ministry saying he wanted to get help with his addiction but couldn’t afford the cost. Matthew’s dad, with whom he started his ministry, said he would pay for the rehab if Rob was willing to go. He went to the same Teen Challenge treatment facility as Jordan! He has been clean and sober for two years. “There’s a powerful chain reaction when someone tells their story, faces their less-than-perfect name tag and says look who I am now,” says Matthew who will sing, “Hello My Name Is.”