Ben Williams: "I decided in writing this song to make a profession of faith that regardless of my circumstances, I belong to Him, and all I have is His."
A cutting edge, no holds barred worship experience has exploded into a movement known as Eleven22. Birthed by a mutual desire to reach the "unreachable," Eleven22, comprised of Ben Williams, Jonathan Berlin, Gretchen Martin and Maria Dunlap, originally formed as a worship team at Beach United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. Moving in the same spirit as Jesus Culture and Passion, the powerfully gifted group—while no stranger to success—was soon hearing the call to a new season of devotion.
"What kept coming to our hearts was that we needed our songs to be a conversation to God—not about Him," pastor and worship leader Ben Williams recalls. "You see, when we pour our hearts out to Him, all of the good, the bad and the ugly, that's when He makes His presence known to us in a powerful way. That's when people are set free."
Eleven22 was searching for a way to express this in its new album when fifteen-year-old McKenzie Wilson appeared at a worship service one evening and not only gave her life to God, but led her parents to the Lord as well. Though McKenzie's untimely death only one month later would rock their entire community, it was discovering her life and the passion with which she lived it that inspired Eleven22 to write the songs that would become its new album, The Reason.
"Stories about McKenzie's love and compassion for others just started spreading like wildfire," Williams recounts. "The more we heard, the more we wanted to know. It wasn't long after that, her dad gave me her Bible, and I began to read her notes inside." Those notes, musings and conversations with God, would not only inspire the songs on The Reason but, like the heart of Eleven22, become a revolutionary cry to the lost, hurt and broken that they matter to God.
I had the great chance to speak with Eleven22's pastor and worship leader Ben Williams about "I Belong To You."
Please tell me the personal story behind the song "I Belong To You."
The heart-pounding surrender of "I Belong to You" began from a single line written by McKenzie in her Bible. I am the worship pastor at our church, and I learned about how McKenzie gave her life to the Lord as a 15 year old, and a month later she caught a rare brain disease and slipped into a coma. I visited her family in the hospital and she ended up passing away at 11:22 on a Monday morning. I've had the opportunity to read her personal Bible, and she had written all these statements about wanting to make her faith public, wanting to serve God, and not lose her friends, and wanting to embrace God. She had also written in her Bible, "I Belong To You", "I Found A Love", and "My Heart Is Yours", which are also songs on the album.
I was chewing on the inspiration from McKenzie of her writings, especially her desire to serve God and wanting to cross that line of surrender and weigh the costs. I decided in writing this song to make a profession of faith that regardless of my circumstances, I belong to Him, and all I have is His. I'm going to lay it out there and make my faith public.
Please tell me which Bible verses that connect to the message of the song. Any life verse?
My life verse is Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
The band is named for Mark 11:22: "So Jesus answered and said to them, 'Have faith in God.'"
What do you consider to be the take-away message for listeners?
There is something so pure about her writing, and it really affected me. I mean, I have been in church my whole life, but I found that it made me want to be a better pastor and worship leader, a better husband, and a better father—to inspire others like she inspired me. The song takes us on a journey of confessing who we truly belong to, discovering that our purpose is meant to be shared with the world: ‘I belong to You, I belong to You / All I have, everything I am. All for You.' I remember someone telling us that McKenzie asked everyone attending her birthday party to bring money instead of gifts—then she turned around and donated all of the money to an orphanage. Her reason for being here was to be a voice for those who have no voice, and that's our reason too. Regardless of your circumstances, you need to commit your life to the Lord.
I don't need riches from Your hands, oh God,
I just want Your face to shine Your light on me.
I don't claim to understand Your ways, oh God,
All I know is grace has brought me to my knees.
As Your mercy falls, covers all my shame.
Bought with precious blood, here I am.
I belong to You.
I belong to You.
All I have, everything I am, all for You.
I belong to You.
I belong to You.
Here I stand, arms open wide, all for You.
With resurrection, power You're the light, oh God,
That the world may see the glorious sight of You.
Send us out to make known Your love, oh God,
And the beauty of the cross that set me free.
I put my trust in Your unfailing love.
I give my praise for all the good You've done.
Lord, hear my song, You're my everything.
My God in Heaven, my only Savior King.
In Mark 11:22, Jesus tells us directly: "Have faith in God." A lively active faith puts great power into your prayers. This entire album has songs that bless and heal me as a listener. The Reason is one of my top inspirational worship albums of this past year. This is also one of the most moving albums I've heard this year, and I can't get enough of the standout worshipful songs "I Found A Love", "My Heart Is Yours", "Burning Hearts", "Love Like Fire", "The Reason", and the powerful song "I Belong To You." After listening to this album, you'll be refreshed, nourished, encouraged, and turn to God for your strength.
Try doing nothing else except meditate on this song and the powerful lyrics. I break down right when Ben gets to the stanza, "As Your mercy falls, covers all my shame / Bought with precious blood, here I am" and then rises to the chorus affirming that "I belong to You / I belong to You / All I have, everything I am, all for You." What an amazing prayer. For me, songs like "I Belong To You" provide opportunities for God to whisper to me my TRUE identity. Not found in what I do or don't do, but in who I am, and more importantly to Whom I belong.
This song provides me comfort as I sing at the top of my lungs: "Here I stand, arms open wide, all for You." This song reminds all of us that the pain of this world is temporary, and to live for Heaven. It's okay to not be okay, and bring your thoughts to the Lord no matter what you are thinking. Just like you don't have to wash your hands before you take a shower, just get into a relationship with the Lord, and then profess that relationship to Him, "I Belong To You." Amen.
Eleven22 will be donating the proceeds from The Reason to The McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation, established by McKenzie's parents to honor her dream of building orphanages around the world. The first orphanage, "Amaka ga McKenzie" in Uganda, Africa, was built in 2011 thanks to the fundraising efforts of local teens inspired by McKenzie's passion to "think globally," and includes a girls home, a boys home, and a home for abandoned babies. For more information about the McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation, please visit: www.caregivegrow.org. For more information on Eleven22, visit www.eleven22worship.com.
Posted August 14, 2012 | NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.
Joel Houston's ZION Tuesday, June 18, 2013 Hillsong UNITED's principle songwriters talks with NRT's Marcus Hathcock in part one of this two part interview.