For lead singer Jason Roy of Building 429, finding sponsors for children is not just a calling — it’s his greatest legacy.
You can do that.”
Fifteen-year-old Jason Roy turned around in the middle of a Third Day concert to hear these words from his youth pastor, Paul Collier.
Unsure of himself and part of a family that he says was very poor and “falling apart,” Jason was broken and discouraged. But suddenly, these words — spoken through the music in the middle of the crowd — brought hope. Paul continued to believe in Jason. He bought him his first guitar, and told him, “Go change the world.”
Jason likens this story, his own, to what sponsors do for children. “It’s all because of Paul Collier, one person, believing in me,” Jason says.
Jason is the lead singer of Building 429, a Grammy-nominated, chart-topping Christian band that inspires and encourages fans to remain unashamed and unshaken in their faith, and to trust God to do the impossible.
But over his 18-year music career, his most lasting legacy, Jason says, isn’t the music.
Over the past 15 years, Jason has used his platform to help advocate for children through sponsorship. “If by chance the music ends [when my record deal ends],” Jason says, “my legacy is the tens of thousands of children I know I was able to help. It’s the legacy of what I’ve done for the kids.”
As Jason talks, an engine hums and a train passes in the distance. He’s on a tour bus, getting ready for tonight’s Winter Jam concert in Springfield, Missouri where he will play in front of thousands of people. At tonight’s concert, he will also talk to the audience about sponsoring a child through Holt — something he is deeply passionate about.
Through the years, Jason’s passion has also become personal as he has traveled around the world to meet sponsored children, and seen for himself how sponsors can truly transform lives. One of these sponsored children is a young man in Haiti who is now a college student. Because of sponsorship, he grew up eating three meals a day and had the opportunity to go to school. Through sponsorship, he also found hope, confidence and purpose.
“He said that because his sponsor cared for him, it unlocked in his mind that God cared for him as well, [and] that he didn’t have to be ordinary,” Jason says.
Today, this once-sponsored child is pursuing his dream of ending child slavery in his country. “It’s amazing,” Jason says, “how hope can change the trajectory of a country through one person.”
By believing in a child, sponsors create hope, which can ripple out far beyond the scope of one child’s life. What they do is anything but ordinary. And it is this message that Jason shares with every new Winter Jam audience, night after night.
But before Jason jumps into sharing about all that sponsors do — how they provide lifesaving food and medical care to orphans, how they tear down the roadblocks that keep children from attending school, how they empower vulnerable children and families to become self-reliant and overcome poverty once and for all — his appeal is brutally honest and unexpected.
“[Before I start talking], I usually tell volunteers backstage, ‘You’re not going to like me in the first three minutes,’” he says.
Why? Because Jason immediately tries to get at the root of why someone might hesitate to sponsor a child. And this, he says, is all about trust — or rather, distrust.
On the count of three, he asks people to yell what comes to mind when he mentions sponsorship.
Some shout, “Praise the Lord!” Others are silent. But the loudest response? “Scam!”
This, Jason says, is what he’s going for. Because he gets it — he used to believe the same thing.
“For years,” Jason says, “I heard people talk about [sponsorship] and I thought, ‘Shut up so I can hear some music! I’m not here to have a sad cry story.’” He laughs now as he shares this, because over the years he’s come to such a different conclusion. Everything changed when he witnessed poverty for the first time, on a trip to Uganda.
“I walked down the street and saw children younger than my son, cross-legged, asleep on the street,” Jason says. “My heart got ripped out of my chest. No child should ever sit alone on a sidewalk and be ignored by a society of people. I realized I knew the pain of feeling like you’re ignored, but I was never completely alone in the world like those children are.”
The lives of children like these, he shares from the stage, are the ones Holt sponsors truly touch.
“We’re not just creating a system,” he says. “People’s lives are being changed to the glory of God the Father.”
When Jason received his first guitar, when he learned that someone believed in him, he began to fill in the missing pieces in his life. Despite coming from a place of brokenness, he had hope. And over time, how he viewed himself and his purpose in life began to radically change.
“I’m a much-loved child of God, made whole because of Him and because He loves me,” Jason says. And this, he says, is what sponsors do for children around the world — believe in them and offer hope. And in doing so, they are a part of something even greater.
“God is doing this,” Jason says, “and He’s giving you the opportunity to be a part of what He’s doing worldwide.”
Megan Herriott | Staff Writer