When a public radio station from Germany called to interview him last August, Tim Neufeld knew that his little experiment as a fan of the Irish rock band U2 had become something bigger than he could possibly have imagined. Neufeld, a member of North Fresno (Calif.) Church, turned off his iPhone camera long enough to tell the Christian Leader about his growing role with an international community of U2 fans. Interview by Kathy Heinrichs Wiest
Why are you a fan of U2?
U2 is a band of musicians who are Christians and who stand for values similar to those of Anabaptists. They use music to speak about racism, violence, poverty and justice in the mainstream culture in ways they probably couldn’t if they identified themselves as a Christian band.
“Periscope” is the iPhone app that launched your fandom to a new level. How does it work?
It’s a live streaming video program—just me sitting at home with the iPhone on my tripod talking to anyone who signs in. There’s a chat feature going on constantly where people are typing their comments—almost like a radio call-in show. By now I have about 1,500 people from all over the world following my broadcasts.
How did you get started?
It was one of those organic things that happened by accident. My family and I were driving home from a U2 concert in San Jose (Calif.) when I loaded this new app, turned it on and asked if anyone out there on the web wanted to talk about the concert. Suddenly I had several hundred people listening.
Why have you continued your broadcasts?
I see a dynamic hunger in the culture for the values of the kingdom of God. Many fans write me with questions of a spiritual nature—some relate to U2’s underlying biblical themes, some ask for prayer. It’s a wonderful virtual community that I, at least in part, have come to shepherd.
Follow Neufeld on Twitter and Periscope at @timneufeld or go to www.timneufeld.blogs.com/u2. Watch for his book about U2 scheduled for publication in Fall 2016.