by Tom Sims
What do a math teacher, a businessman, a barber, and an arborist have in common?
The probably have more in common than a tax collector, a teen preacher, a doctor, and “son of thunder.”
The first group is Matthew Mark, Luke, John or MMLJ, the band and the second is Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the four evangelists of the gospels.
Both groups are all about spreading the gospel.
In a world of competing egos like the music business, MMLJ tries to put ego to rest. This Reedley-based rock band is all about the message and the music.
Lee Hull is a spokesman for the group and he says, “It is not about us; it’s about Jesus Christ…. “We are trying our best to put our egos aside and put Christ forward.”
Lee Hull and Keith Toms are two founding members of the group that performed its first concert in 2000. Since that time, members have come and gone and they are now joined by Clark Douhan and Tony Torres. They have played in churches, at open air concerts, at “Feed My Sheep” rallies and at “Cruising for Jesus” events.
Besides that, they play every third Thursday at the Rescue Mission. It is there that Clark utilizes his skills as a preacher to bring a message of hope and redemption.
Venues have been from Porterville to Merced and to the coast. They have even played against the backdrop of Morro Rock.
Their next venue goal is to “break into” the prisons and begin to play yard events. They believe that their message and style will resonate with men behind bars. Clark has worked with Bill Glass Ministries in prisons and Lee worked with Prison Fellowship for about eight years.
They are also beginning to sponsor some of their own events and are in the process of acquiring their own sound equipment. They are training a sound technician and have recently acquired their own recording studio where they are producing an album called, “Millennium.”
It is a series of songs, one an epic rock piece 15-16 minutes long, about the Second Coming of Jesus. They believe that Jesus is coming soon and that this message is urgent.
The group plays progressive and classic rock and blues. It is the music they grew up with. It is, to the seasoned ear, more sophisticated and deeper than much of the popular music that is labeled as Christian. They cite their musical influences as The Beatles, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Iron Butterfly, Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, Kansas, Jethro Tull, the Doors and ELP.
They often take rock standards and change the words to give them a gospel message.
“Take Me to the River” becomes a song about baptism and “Here Comes the Sun” translates into “Here Comes the Son.”Some of their music is written by guitarist Keith Toms and keyboardist Lee Hull.
Lee, Keith, bass and rhythm guitarist Clark and even drummer Tony all contribute to the vocals.
Lee Hull is a former choirmaster with a degree in choral conducting. Now, instead of conducting classical church standards, he plays classic rock standards. It is adult music with an adult appeal, but many of the younger people are relating to the “retro-sound’ and swaying to the beat as well.
One Tune, “God Shall Wipe Away All Tears” was recently uploaded to their Facebook page, and will be on their “Millennium” album. It is taken directly from Revelation 21
“I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.” – Revelation 21:1-3
Their Godtube channel features “In the Deep of the Night” and “The Lord Is Coming.”
And excerpt from “The Lord Is Coming” tells the story of the song:
“Lightning flashes from the east, the Son of Man appears
He comes in the clouds of glory and every eye shall see
The trumpet sounds loudly, Christ’s elect will follow Him
From the four winds of heaven they will meet Him in the air!” (“The Lord Is Coming,” – MMLJ)
These four men are committed to the music, the message, and the Man behind them both. They charge no fees for coming, though they will gladly receive a love offering to use in furthering their ministry. They are available for churches, events, and outreaches.
The band’s goal can be summed up in a prayer that they posted on their site, October 5 or last year. It says, “Lord, help us to live our lives as salt and light to the world. Amen and amen!”
With such a goal and such a prayer, putting ego aside is a natural response. MMLJ is on its way.