Singer Matthew West brings tour to Eastridge
February 15, 2011
By Tiffany Shedrick
Last March, Eastridge Christian Assembly celebrated its grand opening with a performance by Matthew West, one of the top artists in Christian music today.
This year, on the Northwest end of the “Story of Your Life” tour, West and guest performer Josh Wilson will perform Feb. 20 at the church again — but this concert will strike a more memorable note.
West had invited his fans to send in their personal stories last year. The response was overwhelming with more than 10,000 letters, e-mails and online messages received as inspiration for his new album.
One of the letters he received was from Melody Christensen, a Klahanie resident and Eastridge church member, who sent in her story after seeing West perform.
“Melody’s story is just one of those that represented hundreds of letters that I received,” West said. “Out of 10,000 letters, many were about people’s battles with cancer, so I felt like I needed to write a victory song about the topic.”
Christensen’s letter inspired West to write the song “Survivor,” a tribute to the courage and strength she has displayed throughout her battle with cancer.
The wife and mother of four has been through multiple rounds of treatment, divorce and recurring cancer — all while remaining positive and encouraging others.
“Melody epitomizes the strength that survivors and those still battling cancer display every day,” West said.
Last year, about 6,500 people came through the church during its opening weekend and hundreds had to be turned away from the free concert due to lack of space.
“That was way beyond the expectation,” said Steve Jamison, lead pastor of Eastridge. “This year, we wanted to ensure people could get in and have a seat.”
Tickets will cost $10 and the sanctuary can accommodate seating for about 1,500 people.
“Our church really connected with West because of his incredible heart,” Jamison said. “He uses his gifts and incredible talent to help other people, and I think it’s a great thing.”
Although they have spoken on the phone, this will be the first time West and Christensen will meet face to face.
“I’m going to play the song in her honor,” West said. “I hope that one by one people will find hope and connect the songs with the story of their own lives.”
For Christensen, the spotlight has been surreal. She has shared her story locally with others, but being given the platform to help more people than her voice could reach is what she is most excited about.
“I just hope this opens doors to encourage others,” she said. “Matthew’s music speaks to everyone. It makes you evaluate your priorities and what’s really important in life.
“I’m pouring everything I have into my family life and church outreach to the community,” she added. “I want to encourage my kids during the difficult times in their lives and show them how faith, family and your church can help you get through a tough time.”
If you go
Matthew West in concert
- Feb. 20
- Eastridge Christian Assembly
- 24205 S.E. Issaquah Fall-City Road
- 392-3253 or www.ecaonline.org
Tiffany Shedrick is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.