Exploring the “Heart’s Wasteland”

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Guerra Joe on stoolJoe GuerraWhen Joe Guerra read Isaiah 43:19, something clicked.

"It struck me that a lot of time we miss the things God is trying to teach us because we focus so much on the problem at hand rather than trusting His solution," said Guerra, a local Christian singer-songwriter and worship leader.

The biblical verse begins, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"

With some further pondering and song-crafting, Guerra has come up with his latest creative effort: a song with an accompanying music video called "Heart's Wasteland."

The title borrows from the second half of the Isaiah verse: "I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (NIV)
"If we focus on following His plan and His ways, He's all about bringing renewal and restoration," Guerra said.

The music video begins with some spoken words by the composer, offering a brief testimony and providing context for the song. (See the video online)


Guerra Joe Heart Wasteland CD cover“Heart’s Wasteland” is the latest music/video from Joe GuerraThe upbeat video was filmed in familiar locations in downtown Grand Rapids – mostly near and around the Grand River and on at least one bridge crossing. There are several scenes from more "wilderness" locations for contrast, symbolizing the wilderness experiences in life.

"We did it all in one day," noted Guerra of his sessions with videographer Nick Smith. "It was in January before it got so snowy and cold," he smiled.

A surprise comes when the singer is suddenly surrounded by a "choir" of voices. He recruited his volunteer singers via social media as well as asking a few friends to show up. "One of them came here from north of Cadillac," Guerra said.

"We often try to do things on our own when we need to press on together and love strong," the artist said of a key passage in the song's bridge."


Guerra, 32, came to West Michigan from his native Illinois to attend Grace Christian University. His degree is in worship media, although he took numerous youth ministry classes along the way.

The singer-songwriter has traveled extensively in his recording and performing career – his most recent EP is "Reason to Breathe." But he's always displayed talent for video work.

He shot one of his music videos ("Shorelines") all on his own during a music tour when some radio stations began playing the song and he wanted a video to accompany it.

"I did the whole thing with my phone (camera)," he said.

He commutes to the Jackson, MI church where he serves as a part-time worship leader. "They have a team of volunteer leaders but they wanted someone to give them more direction and help them improve," Guerra said of his equipping role at Encounter Church. "But if I need to be gone for my music stuff they're supportive of me continuing it."


One of Guerra's earlier video projects came in association with another of his songs, "Reach Out to Heaven." It had a tie-in to Art Prize in 2014.


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"It was through St. Cecilia Music Center downtown and they had a category where you could enter a song," he recalled.

The song's theme was the childlike innocence we find as we embrace faith in Christ. Guerra thought about how to "picture" the song.

"When I try to do art stuff it looks like a kid did it," he reasoned. "So I went to Michael's and bought a craft kit, and then illustrated the song like a story book."

He shot the table-top video using "stop action" techniques. It's clever and effective. (see it at online) .


The artist will likely release several more songs before combining them on a future collection. For now "Heart's Wasteland" is a stand-alone single.
"I do have some other songs that are getting ready to roll," he said. And don't rule out more storytelling videos that help reveal a message.
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Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Author: Terry DeBoer
Terry is a journalist/feature writer for newspapers, magazines and websites, with a background in radio broadcasting. His usual beat is arts and entertainment, specializing in Christian/gospel music. A married father of two, he is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan Contributing Writer: West Michigan Christian News August 2011 – Present Feature writer: -Mlive.com (website and various newspapers) 1988– 2016 -Spotlight New Christian Music Magazine 1997-2008 -Church News Editor, Church Herald Magazine 2004-2009

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