This is by far one of the most inspiring interviews I have done so far. Jake Luhrs, singer for August Burns Red, believes in hope, healing and restoration of broken hearts and lives. He has a story to tell….and it’s a GREAT one indeed. I was blessed to talk to Jake about Heart Support and his dreams for the youth and also the music industry as a whole. I hope you enjoy this interview and are inspired as much as I was. I can’t wait to see what he continues to do with this amazing organization!
1. I know you shared your testimony on your website so people can go there and watch it. (Watch Here )I was wondering, after that life changing moment in your life how did you go about actually starting Heart Support?
“I started Heart Support three years ago. And I was on tour with a band called A Day To Remember and I was sitting outside thinking about all these great things I feel God has blessed me with and all the great opportunities that I have. I was kind of talking to God out loud to myself and asking him what is something I can do to give back to God and to the fans. I started having all these ideas come up where I could start an online community where kids could talk about everything that they are dealing with. A lot of the kids that I have met at the merch table, they tell me stories about overcoming drug addiction or suicide or even sexual abuse is being encouraged through our music. So I really felt like I wanted to give those kids a stronger avenue to speak about these things and also unveil the things that I have gone through so that they understand that it is genuine and that I truly do care. I look at and think that in 5 or 10 years no ones really going to care about August Burns Red, so right now I want to make this impact knowing I have the platform for people to pay attention.”
2. How did you get the name Heart Support?
” Well actually when I first started it, it was called Your Life. I was working that for about a year or a year and a half. I ran across this guy named Craig Gross who has a website called www.xxxchurch.com. He checked our Your Life and we had a couple meetings together and he basically flew me into Las Vegas for this conference which he was doing and said,”hey, you know you’re not a non-profit yet and that can be very difficult. And you have never done anything like this before. I have this sister site called Heart Support and I am looking for someone to carry a vision and lead this thing.” He said he really liked what I was doing with Your Life and my vision so he wanted me to lead it. So I pretty much took that over two years ago and pretty much re-vamped the whole website and took what I was doing with Your Life and put it into Heart Support.”
3. In your testimony you mentioned that there was a point in your life where you didn’t really believe that there was a God necessarily, so you cried out to him one final time. My question is how did you know to cry out to JESUS and not some “other God?”
Honestly, I guess because I have seen so much hypocrisy in the Christian culture and I was surrounded by churches and things, and they would kind of judge me and look at me like I was an outcast. So I think that made me really angry at Christ and at Christianity. I didn’t have any friends who were Buddhist or Muslim and so I would just talk to God before I became a Christian. I used to call him John actually because I didn’t want to believe in Christianity or anything else, so I would talk to Him that way. But that didn’t seem to make much of an impact in my life. And I guess because of all the hypocrisy that I had seen in the church I and asked Christ because I thought it was all full of shit. So was like, ” hey man! Show me! Be a man about it! Because all I see from your “followers” is a whole lot of hypocrisy and judgement!” So, that’s why I cried out to Jesus, because I saw so much negativity from the people who followed him.
4. What would you say your biggest dream is for Heart Support? What are your hopes for the years to come?
Just that more kids show up and it becomes stronger of a place for unity and community of love and uplifting. That it transforms some of the scene and the music industry. Instead of this “god free” “god hate” “fuck the world” (excuse my profane language) mentality. You come on Warped Tour and you see all these shirts that say, “Fuck your Faith.” Or you have some of these musicians here saying, “it’s all about me and screw the world.” And “I don’t care who you are.” That is so unhealthy. And these kids are listening to this music they are being raised by their idols who are these musicians. I want the music scene and the youth to have a place where they can talk about the real stuff. Having surface level relationships with one another. Let’s start to encourage each other. I just want that to amplify. I want these kids to walk around and say, ” Yeah man! I know about Heart Support and it’s changed me and made me want to open up to my friends and build strong healthy relationships. “
5. Now, Heart Support reaches a lot of people. Is there a favorite story of yours that stands out in your mind?
” I do get A LOT of cool stories. I can name a couple here. One was on Warped Tour this past week. We have these books on sexual abuse and sexual assault. Basically it’s written by a pastor who has dealt with that himself and how God brought the process of healing people who have been sexually abused. This book is free at our table. When kids come up I tell them what Heart Support is and I offer them these books that are free and if they want one they can take one. There was this girl who said she would take one for her sister. So I go to get the book for her. When I come back up she is just crying and sobbing. She just starts saying thank you for caring and thank you so much and that it’s so nice that someone cares. Then she asked for a hug. So we sit there hugging for a few minutes. Things like that make it all worth it. Im out here working 11 hour days and I am exhausted, but you know, to be able to encourage someone and give them something they can go home with and learn, not only about God who loves them, but also to find healing for something that has been so damaging to them for so many years is awesome! That’s one great story. Another one is when I first started this, a kid came to me. And I am a Christian, I’m not a pastor, but I’m a Christian. It’s not that I have all the answers because I have my own questions myself. But this kid comes up to me and says, ” I was in my aunts house with my four brothers and sisters and my mother and there was a fire. Only me and my sister got out, so where’s God?” I mean, I just started this little website 6 months ago and I’m like “oh my Lord, I’m blown away by this.” I told him I was so sorry and that I didn’t have the answer for that, but I would be praying for him and I wanted to encourage him however I could. Two years later he comes to an August Burns Red show, and says “Hey man, I don’t know if you remember me but I emailed you a year and a half ago. I just want you to know Im doing a lot better I am still holding on to God and hoping that He uses my story to help someone else. So we actually went to Waffle House and recorded him telling his story and what happened and where he’s at today. We have it up on our website. It’s one of the most impactful passionate stories that I have ever experienced.”
6. I’m 32 now, and ever since I have been a little girl, I have always been anxious and had a lot of fear. The older I got, I found myself dealing with depression a lot in my life. I grew up Christian, so I always had God in the back of my mind. I always figured, “ok, so I have God so I am going to be fine.” Obviously being a believer doesn’t negate you from these struggles. I want to know how you interact with believers versus non believers? Do you give them the same advice? Do you reach out to them differently?
“That is always something that I have always wanted to respect. For me I don’t like the way Christians push Christianity down someones throat. My thing that I go by is that you can’t teach a 4th grader algebra. I am not going to start spitting out scripture, like Ephesians 3:16 to someone who has no idea who Jesus is. It just doesn’t make any sense. But I can love them from what I know from the Bible. And so that is what I try to do. I try to be understanding to what level this person is at in their faith, in themselves and in God or even what god. If you can’t relate to someone on a certain level then you aren’t really going to be able to help them. Sometimes I need to know more of their story in order to really figure out how to give them advice. If I can find an experience that maybe I’ve gone through that could benefit them, then I tell them my story. I respect what I know, I don’t say the same thing to everybody. It just depends on where they are at with their relationship with God or their lack of.”
7. I know that you are involved in a Bible Study on Warped Tour. How is that going?
“It’s awesome! Yeah, I lead this bible study on Wednesdays and Sundays at 9pm, when everyone is already wrapped up and closed up for the day. The day before yesterday I had about 20 people there. I bought a bunch of custom covered bibles for Heart Support to take out and give to kids who want them. It has a custom cover so it doesn’t say “Holy Bible” on it. That’s for kids that what to know more about the bible but don’t want other people to know that they want to know more. So I have about 500 of those. I bring those to the bible study in case someone doesn’t have a bible of their own. The last bible study, and atheist showed up and was just curious what it was all about and what we were doing. He had Christianity shoved down his throat for a long time and just didn’t like it at all. Which I don’t blame him. So he ended up coming and we had small groups that we have after I teach a little bit, and he said he was going to come back and actually took a bible with him. I think that is pretty cool. It’s something for Warped Tour bands and Crew.”
8. Being on tour puts you in more contact with more people then you would meet on a regular day, which means you are constantly pouring yourself into others. Where do you go to get filled up again? Do you have any close friends on tour with you?
” Actually yeah, my merch guy he is a really really close friend of mine. I’ve lived with him for five years. Him and I have end of the night conversations throughout the week to see how we are doing and how life is going. And then I have my buddy Ben who is my right hand man at Heart Support. Im actually calling him tonight at 9:00 to vent a little bit or just discuss where my mind is at and where things are in my life. That’s important. Especially when you are walking around and trying to give and love on people and encourage them. You too need to be encouraged and filled up and re-fueled. In all reality it’s just a big family. We are with each-other everyday so its nice to have dudes that aren’t affiliated with the surroundings and environment that you are in so they can give you an outsiders perspective of what’s going on. My buddy Ben is in Texas and I have my buddy Tim who is in Connecticut. So those are my two main guys.”
9. You mentioned earlier that you work with XXX CHURCH. I noticed when I was at Warped Tour this summer that these girls and boys are searching to be loved, but in the wrong places. I found myself thinking like a MOM and wanting to tell them to put some more clothes on. Ha. So I was wondering do you ever encounter situations where you are talking to these kids who are searching for this attention and what do you tell them?
“I see it everyday and it’s just like you know with all the shirts that say all the negative crap. The young 16 year old girls with their breast hanging out. They are looking for acceptance and unfortunately they’re looking in the wrong place. The reason why these girls are going to be accepted is purely by their body. So even if you are trying to find a relationship out there or in that kind of environment it’s purely lustful. It’s not really going to last or go anywhere, because that guys is not attracted to you because of your mind or your personality. Then you have the guys who are trying to be “tough” with their blatantly disrespectful shirts, trying to show that they are “MEN.” I talk to some people about the way that the girls are dressing. Guys who are respectable dudes are called to show them that they don’t have to do that. That they don’t have to flaunt their bodies in order to gain respect. We try to love on them for who they are. They are human beings. They are not objects. It’s sad to see that they don’t think they can be worth something more. They are putting themselves in that environment where they are saying, “Hey I am just an object.” I don’t really know how to tell a female that without coming off like a jerk, but when I see that I speak very gently to them and make them feel appreciated. That’s the message that people need to hear in general.”
10. How can someone get involved with Heart Support?
“Yeah! I created this program called Brother Sister. Basically what it is people who are a part of Heart Support as far as in the community. They come to the community and they talk to the kids and they really like what we are doing, they can join Brother Sister which is a little more in depth. That is a small program of kids who talk together, thru Facebook or even get their numbers from one another who talk and really get below the surface level. They hold each other accountable. So let’s say you join Heart Support and you met Mary, who is a part of the Brother Sister program and you got her phone number. You call her maybe once a week and see how she is doing or if you are in a rough patch you can text her. We also do fundraisers where you get people to try and fundraise a certain amount of money and you get these kinds of prizes. What we try to do is equip them with flyers so if they go to shows and or church they can pass out the flyers and tell people what we are doing at Heart Support. There is also bible studies. We have online bible studies once a week that are held at this website where everyone is connected through forums. It’s kind of like Heart Support but on a more tighter level. If they really want to stick around and start writing guest blogs, they could maybe become a Heart Support Team Member. But that is something the main guys who write blogs and answer and respond to questions to kids that are coming to the site.”
I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Jake for taking the time to talk to me! And also to all you readers out there! Be sure and check out Heart Support! <3