There’s another little member of the Groves family in the house?
There is: little Ruby Kate. Yeah, she’s six months old now.
I’ve been hearing a lot of the song When the Saints and I’m liking it. Where did that come from?
The heart of the song is the people that have gone into the places where courage is required. I’m usually trying to sort through something when I’m writing music and working on an album. The story of the work of International Justice Mission has so captured my heart and helped me see that the Body of Christ has the hands and feet of Christ and what that can possibly look like.
I see that in my community and people around me who have servant hearts and serve the people around them. But this is a next level of rescue work. They’re rescuing young women out of brothels and groups of people from bonded slavery and helping restore land to widows.
I used to teach U.S. History. Harriet Tubman was one of my favorite people from history because she didn’t just secure her own freedom. She goes back to the South, repeatedly, rescues over 300 people and physically carries her own parents up to Canada so that they can die as free men and women.
I’ve always thought, What would I have done at that time? Would I have risked relationships? Would I have done hard things to speak for the oppressed and stand up for those that are suffering, and cast my lot as Christ has cast his lot.
When I started realizing there was a very real underground railroad alive today, then I thought, Wow, I actually do get to be a part of this. I actually do get to enter in so I was just wanting to trace through history.
Many of your songs resonate that social justice message and for me your music is always thought provoking — sometimes a wakeup call — because you’re talking about helping your neighbor, building your community. How would you define social justice?
I don’t think my music has always been this. I’ve often been very introspective writing about my own faith. I’ve groomed my personal faith and I’ve been zealous about it. I’m passionate and want to do this thing well.
So I think that social justice can be a scary word to some people. They feel like it’s a political idea, a liberal idea. But to me it’s a Kingdom idea. Christ has cast his lot with the oppressed and has invited us to join in. He’s saying, “This is where I will be. I will be with those that suffer.” There’s something that we can’t know about God until we walk those same paths
Sarah, what kind of ministry projects are you involved in these days?
Well, I’m really prayerful about that because I’ve gone from a place of really limited social justice or awareness, to a place that I’m going to do everything and change the world [Laughs]. Remember a few years back Blackaby wrote Experiencing God, the theme of that book was to find out where God is working and to join him. That’s what Troy and I are currently trying to do.
We were first led to Rwanda. That was my first trip to Africa so many of my connections to social justice have been through Rwanda. But we are spending our time largely talking and representing International Justice Mission. Their work so grips me. They have a new office in Rwanda and so we are directing our attentions to that region of the world.
We are working with Food for the Hungry to sponsor one community. So instead of having child sponsorships from all over the world at our conference, we have child sponsorships from one community in Rwanda. So hopefully Troy and I can tie in with this one community.
I think it’s so cool that you have a music platform and still have time for ministry passions.
I find that I’m not alone in this sort of waking up and saying, Wait a minute. What have I been doing? I speak a lot to women and I find many moms in the same place. A lot of women are saying, I feel this same restlessness. What am I raising my kids to do? I’ve given them every opportunity and everything we can afford. We’ve showered them with all kinds of great blessings and things. But what have we taught our kids about Christ and about the Christian world view?
Boy, sounds like you have a full life. As you think about legacy, and what you’ll leave behind with your kids, what really matters? What are you thinking about these days?
Well, that’s exactly what we’ve been thinking about. The very first song on the album is called Song for my Son. I was at my grandmother’s house recently and she showed me a 3-by-5 index card. Her father had gone oversees to preach — he was a pastor — and had suffered a massive heart attack while he was overseas and knew that he was not going to make it back home and had written on this card his last words to his kids: “Tell the children to be faithful and true to Jesus always.”
To see my great grandfather’s last words to his kids on this card really moved me to ask, What are the takeaways? Is it just don’t wipe your nose on your sleeve and always wear clean underwear? Or is there something of more substance in those things you repeat over and over again as a mom?
I’ve thought about of all the things I could say to my kids. I think the most important would be: Evil makes us want to close our doors. It makes us want to lock the windows and hibernate and hurt in our relationships. It makes us want to turn away from people. Jesus says, “I want you, friends, to do something different. I want you to continue to reach out to each other in the face of hurt and in the face of evil I want you to stand in love, in the love of God.” So I wrote this song that basically says, Don’t let your love grow cold — your love for God or your love for others.
What are you and Troy doing for fun these days? When the last time you had fun?
[Laughs] Last night.
Okay. What’d you do?
We’ve never done this before but we’re doing a whole workout thing together. It’s a little cardio, some weight lifting and then some kind of kickboxing stuff. Last night we were doing the kickboxing and it was very, very comical and we kept laughing at each other.
But, yeah, that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re on a diet and working out, if that sounds [Laughs] like any fun.
Are you doing this at home? Or are you at a club?
We are at home this time. We’ve tried going to the club, but it’s hard with the kids.
I just wondered if there was a public place to watch Sarah Groves do kickboxing.
No. [Laughs] There’s not.
What creates intimacy in your marriage?
We were getting away for our anniversary, and during the drive was this very tense, very hurtful conversation. We both said, I don’t want to do this. And we knew we weren’t able to get to a counselor for a while and so we said, what we need is to keep talking.
So, knowing that we didn’t have a mediator, we checked-in to the Bed and Breakfast, sat down on the floor across from each other and asked God to be our mediator. We just kept working on it, working to talk and speak in kindness.
For Troy and I, when we’ve worked through a difficult time, there’s no greater intimacy than on the other side of that. I feel that closeness again, a return of this friend and lover and companion that we’re always striving for.
It was hard. But by the end of a good two hours we had named what we had been talking about — the symptoms — and by the end we had finally figured out what it really was. We both had an “aha” moment and asked for forgiveness.
That may not sound super romantic, but for me, when we have pressed through something difficult together, that is when we are the strongest and the closest.
I just am so grateful that God keeps teaching and there’s never a dull moment, is there? I mean there’s always work to be done either as a parent or a wife or as a servant and follower of Christ. I just try to embrace that as much as I can.
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