JAKE: Brothers with a Message

How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1)
So wrote the Psalmist, expressing the beauty of fellowship within the family
of God. If he could meet the members of JAKE, the biblical poet might be
inspired to write something about “brothers living together in the same
apartment.” That’s because Toby, Marty and Josh Penner– JAKE — are three
flesh-and-blood brothers who share everything: an unusually close Christian
family, a love of all things Canadian (including impromptu renditions of “O
Canada,” the national anthem) and a heartfelt desire to use their modern pop
songs to help enliven the faith of kids all over.
The guys also share a border-crossing, road-weary ’85 Mercury Topaz, a car
with more age and experience than some of JAKE’s more youthful fans. While
the 1985 Topaz may have been the vehicle that literally got them to Reunion
Records in Nashville–just barely, according to the guys–they’ll tell you
it’s been the hand of God that has taken them from the safe haven of home in
Three Hills, Alberta to many faith-building places throughout their young
lives, including a mission school in Belize (“Our parents thought it would
be good for the whole family to spend a year in another culture,” says
Toby.).

Another faith-building adventure was the summer that twins Marty and Josh
spent working at an Alaskan logging camp. “Dad spent a lot of time in Alaska
and the Yukon, and he thought it would be good for us,” says Marty. “So he
put us on a train west when we were 16, and we had to fend for ourselves
finding a job and a place to live.” Josh says the summer marked a turning
point for the two. “We learned to trust God for everything…we worked
hard…it was a great experience. But you’d have to know our dad to know why
he did that.”
If you don’t know Dad, you don’t know JAKE. That’s because Dad, like Grandpa
Penner and several other male Penner relatives, is named Jake. “It’s very
common on both sides of Dad’s family,” says Toby. “Since none of us are
named Jake, we decided to let the name live on with the band.”
That’s not all that makes Jake Penner one proud dad. Although he and Marie
Penner (mom) are both career educators (affiliated with Prairie Bible
Institute, Canada’s oldest Christian school), the family was the focus of
their lives. “We have studied our children, and prayed for guidance,” says
Mr. Penner. “We’ve always known they were talented, but we’ve always
entrusted them and their gifts to God. Our kids belong to God, not to us.”
So who are these guys?
For starters, Toby, Marty and Josh are polite, clean-cut, and fun to be
around. Athletic and smart, they’re equally at home on the basketball court
or in their favorite bookstore. It’s tempting to describe them as
“all-American boys,” but they’re proud Canadians, to the bone–with dual
citizenship, thanks to Mom Penner, who was born and raised in the United
States. Holding both a Canadian and U.S. passport makes it easy to cross the
border, says Toby. “The customs people always smile and say, ‘Welcome home”
whichever way we’re heading…it’s great.”
The differences between the two sides of North American culture are subtle,
say the JAKE guys, except when it comes to the practice of Christianity.
“There’s not a big Christian subculture in Canada like there is the U.S.,”
says Josh. “So Canadian Christians in the arts don’t differentiate between
the sacred and the secular…which is why you’ll hear Christian artists like
Carolyn Arends or Steve Bell on pop radio there.”
The integration of faith and life–and the struggles and joys of living in
the world, but not of it — are naturally revealed in the songs on JAKE’s
self-titled Reunion Records debut. Fueled by the sublime harmonies only
siblings can create, JAKE features shimmering-yet-edgy pop production that
works when pared down to three brothers in a living room with acoustic
guitars.
Thematically, their songs range from the deep spiritual longings of “Right
Time” and “Believer” to the everyday struggles of human relationships in
“Let Me Know” and “Take My Heart Away.”
“Of course we write about life from a Christ-centered perspective, because
we’re Christians,” says Toby. “That colors everything we write.”
One of Toby’s writing efforts is JAKE’s anthemic debut single “Waiting,”
which tells a story familiar to both the searching skeptic and the honest
Christian:
I don’t feel strong enough
To lift my hands to You
But I have tasted Your life
And that’s how I know I am tired of mine…
I am waiting for You
I am waiting here tonight..
I am waiting for my eyes to see the light
Though the Penner brothers are well aware of the need for Christians to
affect the culture at large, they also have a heart for kids who might be
surrounded by Christian influences yet haven’t made Christ the true center
of their lives. “We know what it’s like to grow up in a Christian family and
go to a Christian school, so we really want to help kids see that faith in
Jesus is an intensely personal relationship,” says Josh. “Life has to be
more than just activities, more than just one giant youth group and going to
Christian concerts.”
So how could going to a JAKE concert make a difference for one of those
church kids? “We definitely want to encourage kids to stretch, to do things
that get them out of their comfort zone–to reach outside the ‘bubble’ and
figure out what knowing Christ can mean in their everyday lives,” says
Marty. “We want to help them invite Jesus into their friendships, their
relationships with the opposite sex, school, sports…and to serve others,
too. That’s where we feel we can make a difference, to show them how Christ
became real to us in our lives.”
UPCOMING CONCERT DATES
3/23 Crossroads Bible Church Bellevue WA 425-747-6750 3/25 Northview Community Church Abbotsford BC 604-853-2931 3/28 Roaring 20’s Abbotsford BC 604-853-2931 3/29 Edge Youth (Abby Penticostal) Abbotsford BC 604-853-8158 4/1 Coquitlam Alliance Church Coquitlam BC 604-464-6744 4/3 Vernon Alliance Church Vernon BC 250-545-7105 4/4 Willow Park Church Kelowna BC 250-765-6622 4/6 Oriole Park Church Red Deer AB 403-347-6425 4/7 Sherwood Park Alliance Sherwood Park AB 780-467-8404 4/8 Glimpse Edmonton AB 780-466-7461 4/10 Briercrest Bible College Caronport SK 306-756-3200 4/15 New Life Baptist Church Stonewall MB 204-467-9788
Special thanks to the Unofficial JAKE Fan Club for sending these in!
The Unofficial JAKE Fan Club is located at:http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/jakeunofficialfanclub

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