The Story Behind Our Album Cover And The Title Parker’s Mercy Brigade

by Bobby Gilles

in Exhortations And Musings

So why did we title Kristen’s new record, which releases nationally April 1, “Parker’s Mercy Brigade?” And what’s with the unusual album cover?

After our son was born and died on October 21, 2012, we grieved deeply. But God showed us the depth and riches of His love through His Word and Spirit. He also poured out His love upon us through our families, through everyone at Sojourn Community Church, and through people around the world. Last, He gave us new songs. Just as God has assured us that He has saved Parker, He asked us to share these songs of faith, lament, comfort, healing and mission with all God’s people.

Because God brought our son Parker to be with Him, never to know pain, suffering, heartache or hunger, we want to help children around this world who are not yet safely home, in Christ. So when you purchase this CD or mp3 album, half of all proceeds goes to Nadus Films. Nadus documents social justice issues around the world, alerting people to cases of extreme need. Then they partner with local organizations to provide change and healing. In this way,  you’re not just buying a record, you’re joining Parker’s Mercy Brigade.

When you purchase additional CDs or digital downloads as gifts, half of those proceeds will go to Nadus as well. And anyone who sings these songs in your church services, and are thus inspired to reach the lost, comfort the afflicted, adopt an orphan, go on mission across the globe or work for the peace of their neighborhood … they have joined Parker’s Mercy Brigade, too. Thank you in advance for allowing us to put the memory of our son to such good use.

The cover, designed by Sojourn graphic artist Chris Bennett, uses a photo taken by Tracy J. Dupaquier of the ministry Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. This ministry is made up of professional photographers who volunteer to take photos of stillborn babies with their families, in the initial hours after their souls journey to heaven.

At one time I would have found this odd or even macabre, but having gone through our family’s tragedy I can tell you that it’s a great comfort to have these photos, which don’t let us forget what Parker looked like. And as I wrote in my first blog post after Parker’s birth, God gave me a new perspective as I held his body in those first hours. Although we are more than our bodies, and although the soul lives on after the body dies, our human bodies are truly works of art, fashioned by God Himself.

We chose this photo because it fits the theme of Parker’s Mercy Brigade so well. Parker’s hand holds my wedding ring before you, as if inviting you to join the Mercy Brigade. Rings are a symbol of commitment, as well as a sense of belonging to something or someone. And of course ultimately we — the Church — are the Bride of Christ.

Parker's Mercy Brigade album cover artTo join Parker’s Mercy Brigade, then, is one small way of living out our calling as Christ’s bride on earth. The album cover is a constant reminder that you haven’t just bought a record, you’ve joined Parker’s Mercy Brigade. And to quote from the album’s final song “Praise The Sending God,” Christ “has fortified our hearts / He’s strong where we are weak / He’s made us more than conquerors / And Satan’s more than beat.”

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