Cam Huxford and former Mars Hill Church worship band Ghost Ship is emerging from more of a battle than a ballad, releasing their sophomore album Costly, with BEC Recordings today. Costly is Ghost Ship’s first release since their label debut album in 2013, The Good King.

The very public disbanding of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington in late 2014 left many real people wounded and scarred. The 11,000 member, multi-site church led by Pastor Mark Driscoll experienced turmoil as concerns of Pastor Mark Driscoll’s preaching and behavior were raised, leading to his resignation in October 2014. The church closed its doors in December, and in the wake of the collapse are six of those real people who make up the band Ghost Ship.

The Ghost Ship Journey

As I talked with Cam Huxford, lead singer of Ghost Ship, I was reminded of one of my favorite modern-day allegories, Hinds’ Feet On High Places. The main character is burdened by two traveling companions, Suffering and Sorrow. Cam Huxford and Ghost Ship’s journey seemed to be joined by the same. Cam described the heartbreak of the event and what traveling with Sorrow and Suffering felt like.

“Over the last two years, Mars Hill Church scattered and scattered until it ended, and it was nothing short of heartbreaking. Honestly, it felt like we were in the middle of a civil war of believers…and in the end, it didn’t matter who was to blame or whose fault it was. It just hurt.”

Cam said Mars Hill Church felt heavily the warning in I Corinthians 6:7—“To have lawsuits at all with one another is a loss to you.”

“That phrase,” Cam emphasized as his voice slowed, “‘a loss to you’—we all felt that loss. Ghost Ship felt that loss in a real way.”

But it was during this season of great sadness Ghost Ship felt freedom to write from a place of vulnerability and it transpired into the personal and raw album, Costly. God’s costly, sacrificial love and presence was illumined for Cam Huxford and Ghost Ship in a tangible way during the upheaval, pushing Cam and the band past their theology and into their faith.

“When I was in the midst of the struggle, all the theology and information I knew about God was doing nothing for me in the midst of my pain,” Cam honestly admits. “Not that I stopped believing, but all the theology faded into the background. I didn’t know much, but I knew this one thing: God loves me and He is here! Nothing else brings you closer to God and builds your faith like pain. And as a band, it was so healing and helpful to work out that experience in song!”

Through much fire and trial, Ghost Ship now stands on the other side of the Mars Hill ashes and testifies to the truth of God’s redemptive plan, especially in regard to His church.

“This situation has shown me how amazing The Church is, and how beautiful the bride of Christ is. It’s amazing to me that Jesus Christ’s Church does not get stopped by all the craziness, even in spite of our sin. His church has continued in spite of all different kinds of opposition for thousands of years. And in my life, that’s one of the clearest pictures that He is with us, loves, us, cares for us and still leads us!”

Cam Huxford’s Compassion for Ministry

As a ministry veteran and one who has been through his share of conflict, Cam gives encouragement and words of hope in a tender warning to those who are in the thick of messy ministry.

“Ministry is a really bad ‘job,’” Cam laughed, “if you’re looking at it in the traditional sense as a hired hand. But if you will lay down your life as we’re told in John 10, you will experience how much better it is to give than receive. The greatest joy we can have in this life is to lose our life, only to find it in serving others.”

In leading up to the release of Ghost Ship’s new album, Costly, Cam Huxford admitted to having twinges of embarrassment regarding just how open and honest Ghost Ship was in their songs.

“I’ve considered removing songs from the album, like the song Peace, wondering if it was too personal or too weak. But I know those moments are from the enemy, because when we are coming from a place of brokenness, we struggle with not wanting to be seen as weak. But God is using this process to humble and teach me by saying, ‘Cam, you proclaiming that you need Me is a good thing.’”

A good thing indeed when the beauty of Christ’s Church marches on in the face of hardship—when the Good Shepherd’s ultimate love shows up on the dark and heavy roads we are called to travel, and whispers, “You are not alone!” And when with baited breath, we watch God take the ashes of our story with Sorrow and Suffering and turn it into a story of beauty. And Cam Huxford would agree that God is still in the business of taking shattered things and refining them for Himself. Just ask Ghost Ship!

Costly, Cam Huxford, Ghost Ship, Mars Hill