Life of Seventh Day Slumber lead singer no fairy tale

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FINALLY AWAKE
Life of Seventh Day Slumber lead singer no fairy tale
by Joanne Brokaw
DEL MAR, Calif. — The title of each of Seventh Day Slumber's albums hints at the band's journey from despair to hope: "Picking up the Pieces," "Once Upon a Shattered Life," and their latest album, "Finally Awake." 

Each of the guys in the band has a story to tell that speaks of a life broken and then restored by the healing power of Christ's blood. Yet they all agree that the band's ministry is centered on the testimony of lead singer Joseph Rojas. His isn't the fairy tale of a good kid who strayed and found his way to church. It's the very real story of a suicidal felon rescued from the brink of death by the grace of God.

Those attending Spirit West Coast on May 25 to 27 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds will get to hear the story from the stage. The band is slated to perform on the final day, which will conclude with a headline performance by Third Day.

Other scheduled acts include headliners the newsboys and tobyMac, Delirous?, Todd Agnew, Starfield, Salvador, Hawk Nelson, Todd Agnew, BarlowGirl, Disciple, Leeland, MxPx, Worth Dying For, Aaron Shust, Thousand Foot, Krutch, Stellar Kart, Family Force 5, Britt Nicole, Casting Pearls, Kutless, Krystal Meyers, Jessie Daniels and Group 1 Crew.

While a coveted concert date at Southern California's largest music festival intimates "arriving," for most of his life, Rojas was the outsider, the fat kid who never got picked for anything. He remembers standing with his brother as the two coolest kids in the neighborhood lined everybody up to pick teams for a game.

"He's the tall skinny nerd that worked on computers before they were ever invented," he describes his brother with a laugh," and I'm this short fat kid that waddled to the line."

He and his brother waited as the teams chose up sides, and when they were the only ones left standing the other kids told them they could either watch or go home.

"I just remember my heart being broken," Rojas said. "I wasn't raised Christian, I didn't know anything about God, I didn't have the opportunity to know anything about Him. I grew up without a father. My only memories of my father were him beating my mother bloody, and I grew up with that theme playing over and over and over again in my head."


Major loneliness
The abuse and loneliness took its toll on the young boy. He considered suicide for the first time when he was 12 years old, and by the age of 14 turned to drugs to try and stop the pain.

"I tried my first line of cocaine at 14 years old," he said. "I would use cocaine whenever it was around."

By the age of 15 or 16, he was selling drugs. He was arrested and spent time in and out of rehab, treatment centers, jails and institutions.

"By the age of 18, I was convicted of my first felony. By 21 I'd been convicted of several felonies and had a $400-a-day cocaine addiction."

All during that time, Rojas' mother was looking for a way to help him. She eventually found her way to church, where she gave her life to Jesus.

"She was telling me about Jesus every day for three years," Rojas said, but he wasn't listening to her.

It was after stealing from his mother to get high that Rojas hit rock bottom.

"I took a lethal dose of cocaine, hoping that my mother wouldn't be the one to find me, and she walked in unexpectedly," he said. "I dropped to my knees and I overdosed on cocaine in front of my mother on her living room floor.

"She was screaming out to God to save my life."

Rojas remembers lying in the back of the ambulance near death when he said he felt the power of God hit him.

"I knew that Jesus was real. And I said, 'Would you save me?'" He smiled. "And that was the first time in my life I ever felt like I got picked."


Powerful transformation
Rojas said the road from addiction wasn't easy, but the transformation was so powerful that it couldn't be ignored.

"Giving my life to Jesus changed my life so dramatically that people that knew me then can't believe that I'm the same person," Rojas said. "They have no choice, they say, but to believe in Jesus."

The band shares Rojas's story from the stage at every show. Afterward, the entire band stays for as long as it takes to speak to every kid who wants to talk. Each of the guys is able to share their own story and connect with kids who just need to know someone loves them.

"We've seen over 20,000 kids come to Christ just by me giving my testimony in an altar call," Rojas said. "That's amazing. That's a soccer stadium, you know, or a football stadium, filled with people that have given their life to Jesus at our concerts. How amazing is that?"

For a complete schedule and ticket information, visit spiritwestcoast.org.

Published, April 2007