He was lead vocalist for the hit-making Christian rock band Audio Adrenaline – at a time when CCM was exploding in popularity. They sold out stadiums across the world and sold millions of albums. But after almost twenty years, Mark Stuart’s voice began to give out.
When doctors diagnosed Mark with a vocal disease that meant things weren’t going to get better, the career with the band he’d founded and dedicated his life to building was gone. Then, to his shock, his wife ended their marriage. Mark felt he’d lost everything. He explains what it was to try deal with what had happened.
“The issue with living in Music City is everyone here is making music! You want to hear a good song, go to Starbucks and the barista will sing you their latest original masterpiece! But I’m also going to church, and I’m in community at that time with all my peers. I’m lonely, and everybody else – their careers were being blessed. Toby. Michael Tait. Switchfoot. They’re just doing great. I felt insignificant, invisible, abandoned by the God I’ve been serving 15 years.“
But this was not the end of the story. A path to greater purpose would begin in a land that might seem unlikely, when Mark returned to a country he’d come to love deeply when he lived there for a time growing up.
“So I started going to Haiti to visit my mom and dad who are missionaries there. I really didn’t think about me there. I didn’t have time to think about me. It was so ridiculous to think about my lost musical career when the people around me were just trying to survive on a day to day basis. And there, among the poorest of the poor, and people who were really desperate just to survive – they were desperate for food, for survival, not for another Grammy – God started to heal my heart, and give me purpose again.”
There are so many incredible strands to follow in Mark’s story, but one of the most extraordinary came in the aftermath of a terrible tragedy. In January of 2010, an awful earthquake struck Haiti. But in the aftermath of this tragedy, Mark found himself able to give voice to the needs and the situation the people on the ground in Haiti faced – appearing all over international media on networks like CNN, MSNBC, and the BBC. The very voice that had deserted him years earlier was now the instrument God was using so powerfully once again.
“The irony, I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I was just doing what I could do in the midst of one of the worst tragedies in the history of the world. And my wife and I, my mom and dad – we were there. We were working on the adoption of our two kids. The irony, I didn’t pick up on it. Everybody else picked up on it! People were saying – even people who didn’t know Audio Adrenaline – were talking about how broken my voice was, and how tired I must be. I’m like, ‘No! It’s the way I sound!’ But when I look back is when I see His hand moving in these poetic, ironic, supernatural ways.”
“In your story, as you look back, you can see how God pieces it all together. That’s the beauty of our testimonies, and I would encourage anybody out there when you look back at your journey with God, and you take the time to really dig into the stuff that you recognize when you look backwards. You see the love story God has played out. How real, romantic, and intentional He is, that’s why we should tell each other our stories. That’s exactly why. Because we forget sometimes. We don’t notice. But when you look back, you can see it as plain as day – God showing up.”
Mark Stuart is the co-founder and longtime lead singer of the CCM staples, Audio Adrenaline. He authors the new title Losing My Voice To Find It: How a Rockstar Discovered His Greatest Purpose.