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How God used Supertramp to Save my Life

This is a picture of Supertramp co-founder Roger Hodgson holding a screengrab of me preaching a sermon on him (taken by the CBC).

The moment led to a pretty incredible series of events that ended with a face to face meeting with Roger where he said, "I'm not much into preachers, but you've got it right... keep spreading the love."

Here's how I told the story in an article I wrote for "Christian Courier" 8 years ago...

"As a young teen I was deeply insecure.

While everyone around me seemed to know what to do and who to be, I was lost and afraid and had so many questions.I didn’t know if I belonged. I felt alone.


Until I heard a song on the radio, from a band called Supertramp, that gave voice to my existential cry, “Please tell me who I am!” 


After hearing the Logical Song and then buying the album, I realized that there was someone out there who understood, who knew my struggles and was there with me.


Hide in your Shell was probably the most influential Supertramp song for me. As lead singer Roger Hodgson sang about ‘playing joker’, he named what I had become; a kid who had to be funny all the time, quick with the one-liners, desperate to grab onto any attention he could scramble for.


And then, as the song continued, beautiful words of invitation came, “If I can help you, if I can help you, if I can help you, just let me know…” I didn’t know it then, but it was as though God was reaching out to me:


“Well, let me show you the nearest signpost

to get your heart back and on the road 

If I can help you, if I can help you,

if I can help you, just let me know”


I didn’t make the connection until four years ago, when I preached a message entitled, How God Used Supertramp (Roger Hodgson) to Save my Life. It was the most personal sermon I’d ever preached.


A few weeks after preaching that message, Calgary CBC reporter Russell Bowers brought it to Hodgson's attention during an interview. Bowers then took a photo of Roger holding an iPad with a screen grab from the sermon of me preaching about his music.


And then, a few weeks later, I got an email from Hodgson's manager letting me know how much Roger appreciated listening to the message. She said that Roger’s spirituality was one of the reasons Supertramp broke up. She also offered me an invitation to come to Roger's next Calgary concert.


So this past November, there we were; my wife and I in great seats, listening to Roger Hodgson live! And then something astonishing happened.


As Hodgson was introducing a song, speaking about how people often thank him for the healing that his music brings to their lives, he said, "This next song is for a wonderful man, Pastor John Van Sloten..."


I was floored! Did a world famous musician just notice me? And as he went on to sing Hide in your Shell, I just sat there overwhelmed; singing along, tears pouring down my face and overjoyed at a God who would bring this all together!


Post-show, we decided to take advantage of the backstage passes we were given and get a photo taken with Roger.


After waiting in the fan photo line up, we walked up and introduced ourselves and Roger gave us this huge smile (he's such a gentle, loving man... everyone felt it at the concert!). He asked if we could stay and talk after he was done with the photos. Then his handlers ushered us to his dressing room.


While we waited, his manager spoke with us and again thanked me for the sermon. The concert had started twenty minutes late that night and the reason, she said, was that Roger was re-watching that message!


When Hodgson arrived, we talked. Again, he thanked me for the sermon. "I'm not much into preachers, but you've got it right... keep spreading the love." After gushing like a teenager for a few minutes I told him about what was going on in me as he played Hide in Your Shell, "When I was a kid I didn't know that God was saving me through your words. When I preached that sermon four years ago I named that fact for the first time. And as you played it tonight (once the shock faded) it felt as though I heard God's voice in behind your voice, in real time!"


The whole time we were in his dressing room Roger kept hugging us, rubbing our backs and embodying such a humble, loving and thankful demeanor. "I'm the one who's been blessed," he said. "I don't even really write those songs... I just receive them when they show up." We talked about how important 'getting out of the way' is when it comes to divine inspiration.


My wife and I couldn't believe what was happening. It felt as though God was putting his imprimatur on our ministry and our calling to listen for his truth everywhere; affirming again, in a dramatic fashion, his everywhere presence in our lives. I told Roger that I'm now inspired to preach for the next fifteen years!


And I am.


And now three months later I still shake my head. Did that really happen? What a beautiful story God has spoken; "The parable of Roger Hodgson's otherworldly impact on an unknown (yet fully known) Canadian kid (come preacher)."



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