David McKissic (Davey Asaph) is not only a staff member and a musical artist, but he’s also a friend.
Before our recent IGNITE concert where David was leading in a new song, I gave him a hug. I told him, “I can hardly believe you’ve only been here a year! I’m so thankful for you.”
David’s official title is Communications Video Producer. From that position, he captures our church’s best moments, images, and words and puts them to flight through video. And he also helps to shape the culture of our church as he platforms different ministries and events.
When he steps away from the camera, you’ll find a man who loves Jesus, a great husband and father, a deep thinker, and a gifted musical artist. David was one of the leaders who joined our Civil Rights Vision Trip. He served on my Preaching Application Team as we studied the Scriptures together in preparation for Sundays. He’s given me great input on how my videos could be better. David has also been a valuable counselor in helping our church understand racial and ethnic harmony. And we were partners in an intense game of “Can Jam” at a new staff outing at my home.
Wisdom, talent, and grace shine through him—not only in his demeanor but also in his music.
Dare to Hope is a collection of five lament songs. I challenged our musicians to write songs that reflect the minor-key songs in Psalms. As my book, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, released, I wanted to point people to places where they could hear contemporary laments. Jake Brothers, our Creative Arts Director, and David wrote one of the songs called “Be With You.” The song features a spoken word segment. The lyrics are incredible:
Either this the darkest night or my eyes shut
‘Cause I can’t see
Are my finger tips completely numb
‘Cause I can’t feel a thing
You said you would never leave I trying to figure out what that means
Like right now in real time
Lies starting to sound like truth, bouncing around in my mind
All I hear is echos from prayers hitting the ceiling
The fact that you got out dodge is actually chilling
You been gone so long my phone don died
If I’m honest I had a moment you know a ugly cry
I need you up close and personal this is my “do you love me” cry
Waves of anxiety crash against my boat
Hail storms pouring down and I’m soaked
I need hope to hope
Convince me that you’re here and life isn’t some sick joke
Where you at drop your pin
Because dark clouds are rolling in
Everything is either broke or on fire
You said you’re faithful don’t make yourself a liar
Weeks feel like seconds, months feel like minutes
I sent a earnest prayer up I’m wondering did you get it
Wonder if you listen
Are you pullin’ my leg if you are just admit it
Maybe your love did come and I missed it
Did you even forgive me…did you forget me
You know…what I need is for you to show up
Because this pain won’t slow up
Doubt tasting like sugar to the brain
But the fruit it produce won’t sustain
But somewhere beyond these tornadoes
There’s a God who looks low
Who takes time to empathize
And hear cries
And he knows
All of our tears on a first name basis
And we can touch the scars in his hands to know that he has saved us
I wanted to know a few things about the backstory for his part of the song. So, I asked David a few questions:
You joined the staff of College Park about a year ago. What is the story of your conversion and how did the Lord lead you to join our staff?
Jesus saved me in 2008. There wasn’t an exact date, but it was a series of events. I remember Jesus pursuing me and lavishing his love on me. My past was filled with pretty girls, sex, money, status, and yet still feeling the harsh reality of emptiness. Then I heard the gospel. I believed in Jesus, and I’ve seen my desires change.
Over time, the Holy Spirit impressed on me the importance of having discipleship and community. I didn’t realize it at the time but that’s what I was looking for—before coming to Jesus. So, I moved from South Bend to Indianapolis with the hope to grow in my walk with the Lord and for a ministry in Indianapolis. I basically left and sold everything to get where I could walk with Jesus faithfully!
Besides being part of our Communications Team, you are an accomplished musician. What’s the story behind your music?
I’ve always been super sensitive and emotional when it comes to music. It always had a way of touching me. I remember at a young age hearing melodies, lyrics, and how they would make me cry at the age of 5 or 6. So, I always understood the importance, power, and influence of music. While other kids played with LEGOs I was creating fake recording studios and writing songs. I started recording as a freshmen in high school. I discovered different ways to grow the gift of writing songs, producing, and performing music over the years.
Our new album, Dare to Hope, features an amazing song where you contributed a powerful spoken-word segment. You used phrases like “I need hope to hope” and “you know our tears on a first name basis.” Sounds like you know the kind of suffering that you wrote about. Is that the case?
Yeah! Honestly my life has been filled with a lot of brokenness.
Those lyrics were often on my lips when I was talking to God. Life hasn’t always been great, but God has always been faithful! I wrote that piece in one sitting because those are things I’ve thought and prayed for years. In 2017 I was hit in the head and got a concussion. A CT scan revealed a brain tumor. Though it wasn’t cancerous, the news of it sent me into a dark depression.
As a husband and father I began to imagine not having the opportunity to be there for my son’s future basketball games and my daughter’s prom. I just felt like the One who said he would never leave lied to me. So those words came from real places. I still have fears about the future. And I have to fight against worry even when I’m on date night with my wife or playing “spider-man” with my son!
You see, my Dad was never there, and sometimes I have very honest conversations with the Lord about the uncertainty of the future—about the possibility of not being there for my kids and wife.
What’s your process for writing the powerful spoken word segment?
My process was honestly just to sit down and do it. I wrote that particular segment in about 15 minutes. Sometimes you just know when the Lord gives you something. This was one of those moments. I read several laments in Psalms in preparation—especially Psalm 13. I thought, “What does this sound like in 2019. David said “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?”
And I said “You’ve been gone so long my phone has died”. I want to verbalize that I’ve been waiting for the Lord to call, but it feels like he’s forgotten about me. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like he is near.
Since learning about and writing a lament song, how has the Lord used this language in your life?
Here’s the thing: lament has been probably my most popular prayer, since I’ve started walking with Jesus.
But you helped be with the vocabulary and system to do it!
I used to think I was crazy for praying this way. But when I’m thinking about how hard life can be, I can run to the One who knows all. I can be honest about how I feel, holding nothing back. I can ask what needs to be asked, and I can trust the one who is the lifter of my head.
Mark Vroegop is the Lead Pastor of College Park Church in Indianapolis, and the author of a new book entitled Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament.