Jonathan Cain is the longtime keyboardist and rhythm guitarist for famed rock band Journey, but years before solidifying himself as a renowned musician he aspired to be a Catholic priest.
Cain recently told Faithwire about his fascinating professional and spiritual journeys, and discussed his newly released Christian solo album titled, “What God Wants to Hear.”
He described growing up with a deep love for God — one he said was instilled by his overtly religious father. Cain explained, “I loved Christ so much as a boy … my father was a really spiritual man and was the one who taught me how to pray.”
As a young boy, Cain said he was so into his faith that he essentially saw priests as “superheroes.” Deeply admiring these men of the cloth, he found himself thinking, “I want to do this. I want to lead people to Jesus and I want to do what they’re doing.”
But those hopes and dreams soon came to a crashing halt on Dec. 1, 1958, when Cain and his fellow schoolmates at Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago, Illinois, experienced profound tragedy. A fire broke out in the school and tragically killed 92 of his fellow students and three nuns, leaving Cain profoundly impacted.
“I stood there and watched it all,” he told Faithwire. “I felt, at that moment as an 8 year old, that God had abandoned us. And where was my Jesus? Where was he?”
Cain said he simply couldn’t work out in his brain how such a horrific tragedy could unfold right next to a church, explaining that the event led to some significant internal questions and doubts about his faith.
“It shattered all of us,” he said. “We all had to grow up that day.”
After the tragedy, Cain soon found himself pouring his efforts into music, something he used as a way to try and get over what had unfolded at the school.
“I found salvation in the music and I quickly got past all the resentment and grief and the horror of the whole thing,” Cain said, though he admitted some of the broader questions and concerns about his faith still lingered.
Then, when Cain turned 17, he went to a Baptist church with a girlfriend, responded to an altar call and once again turned to God. While he finally came to grips with much of the lingering pain and numbness, he said he still had some questions about his peers who had died so tragically.
Eventually, he came to conclude that “God had nothing to do” with the fire, and that it was, instead, an act of evil.
“I wasted a lot of years not praying,” Cain said.
He then proceeded to live more as a Christian than in the past, but said his faith ebbed and flowed. It wasn’t until he met Paula White, senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, that he said his Christian walk truly came full circle; the two married in 2015.
“It was Paula who really led me back to Christ in a big way,” he said.
Now, Cain is promoting his first solo Christian album — a project that emerged after he was asked to lead praise and worship on a women’s cruise White was hosting. While he was obviously well-versed in performing to massive crowds as a decades-long member of Journey, performing Christian music was new to him. As it turns out, he found it incredibly enriching.
“Something pretty anointed happened up there on the stage,” he said of the experience on White’s cruise. “There’s something about when you sing for God that happens, your voice changes, you get into this different place.”
Cain said he later found himself looking for ways to perform Christian music, a quest that culminated in him making “What God Wants to Hear,” an album he hopes will inspire his fellow Christians.
“I hope … when they hear this album it will cause them to connect to a place they haven’t been connected to before,” he said, adding that he wants to help “sooth the troubled soul.”
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