Faith Song Mission, Isaiah 12 Records & Studios, and Vital Force Publishing is a Christ-centered mission and ministry, developed in two specific areas: First, in production, publishing and release of Scriptural, testimonial, public and/or personal expressions of the Christian faith in each applicable, cross-cultural context, through music, audio, written and visual art forms; and second for support of research, teaching and/or information sources and outreach ministries.
Ballad of the Mission
Ballad of the Mission is a country-grassroots-folk original by Karen Johns Band that beckons us to examine our hearts for God. Half of the songs on this CD album were written in Nashville, and the other half were written during their four years in Canada, where James and Karen attended Seminary and Bible College (see Biography page for more details). Preproduction was recorded on location in Canada with Isaiah 12 Studios, and final production was recorded on location in Nashville with Isaiah 12 Studios. For this project, the Karen Johns Band was comprised of some of Nashville‚s best session players and other amazingly talented American and Canadian artists including Mickey Raphael (harmonica player for Willie Nelson); Jim Hoke (multi-instrumentalist for Mark Knopfler, Alan Jackson, Billy Joel, Don Henley, Emmylou Harris, NRBQ, and more); Mark Neimeic (2001 Grammy nominee)...(again, see Biography page for details). This CD album is also the singing debut of Karen and James‚s sons, Gabriel and Ezra Johns. Ballad of the Mission is a new and fresh sound for the Karen Johns Band, a project that runs parallel in production and release time; yet in total stylistic contrast to Karen Johns Band jazz/blues CD album Mercy River.
 
 
1    Ballad of the Mission   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     This is the title song of the album and it is a piece that melodiously and harmoniously asks the listener direct questions about their day to day life with Christ- in English and in Spanish- beckoning the believer to move in the mission where the needs of others are foremost the work of Christ Jesus for his people and all creation. The Spanish is translated: Are you loyal to God? And do you hear Him calling? Are you loyal to Jesus Christ, everyday of your life? Ballad of the Mission is inspired of the following Scripture: Matthew 25:31-40; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:20-22; Philippians 2:8; James 1:27.
 
2    Forgiveness   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     This song is a testimony of the sanctity of life. It is a personal journey made by the author which underscores our need of forgiveness- forgiveness that moves like a locomotive train into the port of reconciliation, restoration, liberty and freedom in Christ Jesus. This particular "forgiveness train" has a destination and that which is the focus of the final verse: Paradise. That very word is translated from Hebrew as a "forest", and an "orchard", taken from the old Persian word pairidaeza or garden with a wall.* Herein, it echoes the memory of the first Paradise, the Garden of Eden, yet it transcends the promise of the Everlasting Paradise, where loneliness, despair, sin and sorrow are never again a hindrance to creation redeemed. Inspired of the following Scripture: Mark 2:5; Luke 23:43; Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:12-14; Revelation 2:7.

(*Word study: Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia. Chicago: Moody Press, 1975; p. 1280.).
 
3    Psalm 134   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     This Psalm/song serves as both a hymn call to praise and a benediction, a calling of the community of Faith to worship God. Historically, Levitical singers ministered and worshipped both day and night, worshipping and therein blessing the Lord, in holiness in the holy place, the sanctuary. We have translated the opening word, „Beholdš or „Comeš the immediate action of worship- „Here and nowš- right now- where you stand!- bless the Lord! Indeed, in our postmodern generation, worship not only happens Sunday morning, but daily, morning, noon, and night. Herein, this song wishes to celebrate the nightly worship of God.
 
4    Philippians 1.9-13 (KJV)   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     It is believed that Paul‚s prayer in Philippians 1.9-11 speaks to the ongoing sanctification of the believer which leads to his or her eventual glorification, including the promise of moral and spiritual perfection; and the future completion of this process as temptation, sin, and evil are fully overcome.* The chorus, „unto the glory and praise of Godš is a gentle reminder for the sanctifiction-glorifiction school to remember that it is in humility and servitude that the glory and praise is exclusively unto God. Thus we are never to think ourselves higher than we ought, which can become a temptation throughout our journey acquiring knowledge of God. The promise of glorification accompanied by the gentle reminder of humility, is further pronounced in Paul‚s testimony of the Gospel in verses 13-14. Therein we must examine closely, thoroughly and meticulously the full dimension of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ... for most, if not all, that will take a life-time! David, a dear friend and fellow student from Canadian Bible College, co-wrote this song with James and Karen. It is a sweet reminder of their fellowship with David, their beloved brother in Christ, a Canadian student-missionary to Mexico.

(*Theological study from Erickson, Millard J; Christian Theology, Second Edition. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998; p. 1011).
 
5    Interlude   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     Interlude is an instrumental variation of Were You There?, a Traditional African-American Spiritual in Public Domain.
 
6    Were You There? a Traditional African-American Spiritual in Public Domain   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     It is very difficult for singer, Karen Johns, not to exude the full emotion of this incredible traditional spiritual. She is swept up in the passion of the melodic narrative and indeed, it comes through in this performance with the haunting sound of Mickey Raphael‚s harmonica weaving through this picture of the past, taking us there to the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord, moment by moment.
 
7    Exalt the Lord   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     Written and performed in the ministry vein of Southern Gospel, this jam is a celebration of the promises to come in a full soul-spirit-heart-body proclamation, through the inward and
outward, onward and upward worship of the full deity of God! It is inspired of key Scripture that emphasize God‚s cosmic redemption; and specifically Isaiah 60:16; 63:16; Jeremiah 50:34; Matthew 17, 26:29, 28:9; Mark 14:25; Luke 24:51-53; Philippians 2: 5-11; Hebrews 1:1-14; I John 5: 6-7 (KJV). The prime theme here, to exalt* God, means to rise or raise (our praise, love, worship and adoration), to extol, to hold up, to lift up on high.

(*word study: Strong, James. Strong‚s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Grand Rapids: World Publishing, 1986: „A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Hebrew Bibleš by James Strong, 1890: p. 142.).
 
8    Valley Revisited   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     A song proclaiming God‚s providence as preservation, and the assurance of Christ‚s protection, the lyric poetry and music, Valley Revisited, was first composed in this very format, however, it was later rewritten and first recorded and published as the song Valley of Decision in the Karen Johns Band second CD album Faith Song Mission. Now years later, Karen and James revisit the original composition and record it‚s original rendition, thus it is a song őrevisited‚. On the theological subject of preservation and protection as contained in the opening lyrics, („He watches over you, every step...), we observe the following commentary:
    Preservation is God‚s maintaining his creation in existence. It involves God‚s protection of his creation against harm and destruction, and his provision for the needs of the elements of members of the creation... Christ‚s resurrection is the proof that God has conquered even death... While the doctrine of God‚s work of preservation is not justification for foolhardiness or imprudence, it is a guard against terror or even anxiety. God‚s work of preservation also means that we can have confidence in the regularity of the created world, and can plan and carry out our lives accordingly.*
This song is inspired of the following Scripture: Psalms 16:1; 32:7; 91: 5-6,11; 138:1; Deuteronomy 6:5; Romans 8:37-39; Philippians 4: 19; Hebrew 1:3; Revelation 7:17; 21:4.

(Theological study: Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, Second Edition. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998; pp. 414, 419).
 
9    Jacob‚s Ladder, a Traditional spiritual in Public Domain   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     This lullaby marks the recorded singing debut of Gabriel Johns and Ezra Johns, James and Karen‚s young sons. It is a recorded „Johns family Gospel harmonyš including Karen, James and their two sons, commemorating a family tradition and one of Karen‚s earliest memories in a place called Rose Hill, wherein as a little girl, her mother, „who had the voice of an angelš, would sing the lullaby Jacob‚s Ladder to her at bedtime vespers. The following Scripture come to mind: Genesis 28:10-12; Mark 8:34.
 
10    My Faithful One   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     Years ago when Brian (Karen‚s brother) lived in Israel, he sent her a journal with the words of this first verse. They were seemingly rhetorical questions, pondering the whereabouts of God, the height of the heavens and the depths of the deep. Karen expounded lyrically from that first verse on, invoking reflection of the Son of God, and praise of the Holy Triune God, Creator and Redeemer. The conclusion can be drawn that God is everywhere, beyond, in all places- God omnipotent. At the end of those choruses, Karen incorporated the Hebrew word: ruwach (pronounced „roo-akhš, translated for the use in this text as „by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions)š*. This song is inspired of the following Scripture: Genesis 3:15; Job 11:8; 12:22; 22:12; Psalms 8:1,3; 18:13; Colossians 1:16; Philippians 2:5-11. Word for word, the final verse of the song is Psalm 135:1.

(*word study: Strong, James. Strong‚s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Grand Rapids: World Publishing, 1986: „A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Hebrew Bibleš by James Strong, 1890: pp. 142.).
 
Lead Vocals and Backing Vocals by Karen Johns. Additional Backing Vocals by James Johns on Philippians 1.9-13, Exalt the Lord and My Faithful One; by Brian Reed on Philippians 1.9-13 and Exalt the Lord; and by Vania Levans on Philippians 1.9-13. Vocals on Jacob‚s Ladder by the Johns family: Karen, James, Gabriel, Ezra. Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Bass, and Mandolin by James Johns, and as indicated: Classical Guitar by Jim Hoke on Ballad of the Mission. Additional Acoustic Rhythm Guitar by Brian Reed on Ballad of the Mission, Philippians 1.9-13, and Exalt the Lord. Bass by Luis Espaillat on Forgiveness, Exalt the Lord, and Valley Revisited. Drums by Mark Niemiec. Additional Percussion by Karen Johns and James Johns. Keyboards by Mark Horwitz on all songs with the exception of Keyboards by Sonya Norman on Ballad of the Mission and My Faithful One. Accordion and Autoharp by Jim Hoke. Violin by Daniel Carwile. Harmonicas by Mickey Raphael. Flute by Vania Levans.

Preproduction recorded at Isaiah 12 Studios on location in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Final Production recorded at Isaiah 12 Studios on location in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Engineered by James Johns and Mark Niemiec. Photography by Karen Johns, with the exception of "Karen at Truck" photograph by James Johns. Portrait Photography by Tony Maupin. Art Direction by Karen Johns and CRT.