Australia is under some of the toughest COVID restrictions in the world, but a worship band is praising God in the midst of the storm.
Joshua Brown is the keyboard player for the Australian worship band Planetshakers.
"Planetshakers started off as a conference. Pastor Russell felt God say be obedient and do a conference. All these youth groups encountered God. They went back and the parents were saying the kids are different. When God touches your life, stuff happens," says Brown.
The idea of Planetshakers went from conferences held in Australia for youth, to a church, to that church's worship band, to a Christian college.
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Brown has been playing with the Planetshakers band for the past eight years. Before that, he played the keyboard for fellow Australian Christian artists such as Rebecca St.James as well as her brothers, Luke and Joel Smallbone of For King & Country.
"My heart has always been in praise and worship," says Brown during the time he was touring the U.S.A with For King & Country. "It was about midnight in Nashville and my mate calls me from Australia. He says we need a keyboard player for our tour. I asked what tour. He said Planetshakers."
While Brown initially said yes, he became sick the night before the first show.
"We're in San Diego and I was sick. I didn't know if I'd be able to do the concert. For soundcheck, I walked up on stage and God healed me. I'd heard about all this kind of stuff but it was crazy because now I was actually experiencing it. That night I looked out at the people in the arena and I saw so many people connecting with their Creator, God. Then and there I was like, this is what I want to do, this is what I was born to do."
Although Brown and his family live in Texas, the band is located in Melbourne, Australia, where the tightest COVID restrictions have been enforced.
"Australia has gone through a real hard difficult time. I saw an article last night with the list of the top ten locked-down cities in the world. The number one city to have the most restrictive lockdowns is Melbourne, Australia. At one point, we couldn't go more than a couple of miles radius from our house for more than one hour. You're allowed to do grocery shopping but only individually. You're allowed to go out and exercise for one hour but you had to be six feet apart from another person."
Brown has seen these heavy restrictions causing a high amount of anxiety and depression in much of his home country's population.
"We were meant to be in community. COVID is a very real and serious thing but we are built for community. Why do we gather? It's so we can encourage people."
During a small reprieve this year in April, Planetshakers held a conference in Melbourne and hit record on the songs. The album from the live recording of the conference is their new album, Revival. It was released on September 17.
"What is revival? It's reviving of the heart, of the soul, the spirit. The overflow of that is a revival in your relationships and all areas of your life. When people say revival, they think that's just a church that has a lot of people, but it's personal. When I am revived, my relationship with my wife is the best it's ever been, it touches every part."
All of Brown's interaction with the band since he came back to the U.S. last February after a trip has been done online. Brown and his wife had their first child, a son, near the end of 2020. His mother in Australia has never met her grandson as people cannot leave or enter the country without special permission from the government.
"This album is so raw. In the midst of a storm, we are declaring the goodness, the love, and the favour, and power, and the perfection of God. If you can praise Him in the storm, imagine how good life's going to be when there is no storm."
The album has 11 original hits, focused on building up the body of believers, according to Brown.
"When you encounter God and position yourself to get into the presence of God, things change. That's the whole point of Planetshakers, is to empower generations to win generations."