For King & Country: Light Shines on Message

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Luke l and Joel Smallbone at Dove AwardsLuke and Joel Smallbone of For King & Country at the 2016 Dove AwardsIt's a movement that includes a book, feature film, song and now a concert tour.

"Priceless" contains a message for justice presented on multiple platforms by singer-songwriters Joel and Luke Smallbone and their band For King & Country.

"When we began traveling as a band several years ago we started to share (about the tragedy of human trafficking) and were amazed at the response," said Joel Smallbone, 32, from an office in Nashville, Tenn.

"We knew there was a bigger story to be told," he said of its emphasis on God-given human worth.

Their "Priceless" concert tour stops in Muskegon on Nov. 4.

The theme is woven through their song "Priceless," which topped Christian radio charts last summer, and the August release of a book of the same title (Worthy Publishing).

In the meantime, the indie film "Priceless" was released nationwide Oct. 14 and stars Joel as a man who is unexpectedly introduced to the dark world of sex trafficking in which young women are bought and sold.

"It's an important and timely story and message," Joel noted. "It's first about women who are priceless image bearers of God, but even deeper, that every human life is inevitably priceless."


The film grossed $1.1 million dollars its first two weeks in theatres, a fair amount for a grass-roots, indie film. Reviews by faith-based publications such as Focus on the Family's "Plugged In" were encouraging.

Even several reviews in the mainstream press had some kind words. The trade publication "Variety" called the film "a surprisingly involving faith-based drama," It noted the movie – with its PG-13 rating – "achieves greater impact through understatement and implication that many other similarly plotted movies do with R-rated explicitness."

The Variety reviewer also suggested that Joel's acting ability showed enough promise that "he seems ready for a role in a more secular picture."


Their current musical tour was crafted with the message in mind.

We are leading eyes upward.

Watch one of our Godmercials, Relevent Docs, or Making a Difference.

"We're integrating some newer music, even some unreleased songs," said Smallbone. "Of course we'll have the lights, the lasers, curtains, ladders, all eight of us on stage with 43 instruments," he added.

Joel concentrates mostly on vocals, but does bang on a drum as well as play the glockenspiel and the "key-tar' (keyboard with a strap, worn like a guitar) during the evening.

And have you ever heard an Indian drone instrument called the harmonium? You will at a For King & Country concert.

The look will be substantially ramped up from the band's Muskegon performance last August at the Unity Christian Music Festival.

See the live version of the song "Priceless," with clips from the movie, online.

Also featured at the concert will be hip-hop artist KB (who shares some stage time with the headliners) and singer-songwriter Jordan Feliz, whose hit song "The River" helped him to a 2016 Gospel Music Association Dove Award as New Artist of the Year.


The Smallbones are a talented family, emigrating to the U.S. from Australia when the children were young. Luke and Joel are younger brothers of inspirational singer Rebecca St. James, who is now off the road after a successful music career. She's also authored books and acted in films.

Their brother Ben directed "Priceless" as well as several other projects.

Starting out as a band in 2011, For King & Country has scored several hit songs ("The Proof of Your Love," and "Fix My Eyes"). They've also won two Grammy Awards, one of them for their most recent album "Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong."

Joel is married to fellow inspirational artist Moriah Peters, whom he met at Luke's wedding.

The brothers co-hosted this year's Dove Awards ceremonies, winning a Dove for their band as Pop/Contemporary Artist of the Year. The group has traveled twice with the huge "Winter Jam" tour and opened a major tour for Casting Crowns.

"The beauty of our band is that it's bigger than Luke or me – it's a group of people working together both on and off stage for a greater cause," said Joel. "It's a thrill to be a part of it and I believe we have a few good years left in it, for sure."

For King & Country, with special guests KB and Jordan Feliz
7 p.m. Fri. Nov. 4
L.C. Walker Arena, 955 4th St. Muskegon
Tickets: $15-$25 reserved, $35 VIP with early entry and Q&A session,, 800-585-3737
Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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