American Worship Leader Says 'God Bless Benin' T-shirts Help Musician Spread Message that Worshiping God Involves More than Singing

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T-shirts help Christian musician, James Chester, spread message that worshiping God involves more than singing.

Sometimes the needs of the world are so overwhelming we stop listening to them. They're too big for us so we stop caring. James Chester and his wife, Kristi, have decided not to go that route. Instead, they sell t-shirts under the auspices of God Bless Benin.

The t-shirts work on several fronts. All the money they generate is sent to missionaries in Benin who distribute the God Bless Benin funds. The Chesters have given firm instructions that the money be used for things like mosquito nets, seed for planting, medical supplies and children's school supplies. "We want this money to go to people's physical needs so that the gospel makes sense and becomes a physical reality to people," says James.

Designed to raise people's eyebrows, in surprise, in curiosity or in support, the t-shirts offer simple messages that direct readers to the God Bless Benin website ( The Chesters see the t-shirts as a tool for teaching Americans just how rich they are, just how poor countries like Benin are and just how easy it is to take steps to fulfill the Church's commission to care for the poor.

Since James is a musician who leads worship for churches, youth events, colleges and retreats, he has a built-in platform for spreading the word about God Bless Benin. He believes that investing in Benin is part of worshiping. "I believe worship should really overflow into your lifestyle, so that becomes the bridge between God Bless Benin and the music."

"Worship is a much bigger part of our lives than singing," he continues, noting that the Psalms talk about praising God from the rising of the sun until it sets. Obviously, he says, we can't be singing songs in church 24 hours a day, so praising God must include other things.

James and Kristi want to devote their lives to teaching others these kinds of lessons that God teaches them about worship. They desire to see realized the Church's potential for impacting the culture around it. They also care deeply for youth and hope to reach the youth generation as it begins growing up and making decisions in the church.

James has taken his gift for writing songs and playing music to the Church instead of to the concert hall. His career started innocently enough, he says, in junior high when he led worship for the youth group because he was the guy who played guitar.

"As I moved into high school and especially college there emerged a real difference between leading worship and performing in concert," James explains. He kept looking at the two side by side, and his heart for worship kept growing. By his junior year of college, he says, "God had really put a desire on my heart to lead people in worship and write worship songs that people can sing."

July 2006 saw the release of Increase the Decrease, a full-length melodic rock worship album written and produced by James. Joining him on the album are Aaron Gotwalt (guitars), Adam Ryan (drums) and Fran Lukesh (keys, bass). The band came together with the common vision of creating quality music for the sometimes artistically disengaged Church. They desire to push the edges of what worship sounds like.

Says James, "We have access to God's Holy Spirit and his leading, and the art the church comes up with should be way more progressive than what the world comes up with."

"Kristi and I talk a lot about being relevant to culture, not in the sense of just looking cool and watering the gospel down," James continues. "We get the sense that there's a real shift happening right now in the church. People are making decisions about worship and what church looks like on the ground."

James and Kristi want to keep contributing to those conversations on lots of different fronts, but the message, from t-shirts to music, is really always the same: all of life can be worship.

For more information about God Bless Benin, visit For more information about James Chester and the James Chester Band, visit or


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