Christian band Bread of Stone nearly broke up, but a trip to Indonesia changed their hearts


By Hailey Johnson —

A funny thing with the indie band Bread of Stone: When brothers Ben and Bill Kristijanto felt called to start a music ministry, neither of them could play a single lick of music.

Today, they have opened for the likes of the Newsboys, Petra, Crowder, Sanctus Real and Building 429, among others. After recording two albums, they released their third, The Real Life, with DREAM Records in 2013.

“We were stones before being called into music ministry (useless and incapable) and only because of Jesus are we made into bread to feed the hungry in this world and share his love with others,” Ben told Cross Rhythms.

Another fun fact about the Sioux City band is that they live double lives: one in America and another in Indonesia, where they were born and where they support ministry to the poorest of the poor, chiefly Muslims who scavenge through trash to subsist. They are constantly flying to Indonesia and supporting projects to raise money for society’s outcasts and standing up for the persecuted church.

“We are not out doing this to make a name for ourselves,” said Bill. “We have never set out to make a statement of ourselves as artist. We are able to do so only through God’s grace.”

‘Service before self-ambition,’ their website proclaims.

Ben is the lead vocalist while Bill plays guitar. The are joined by Tim Barnes on bass and Jason Ferris on drums. All four band members grew up in Christian homes.

Even their wives get in on the act, making bracelets from used guitar strings to sell in Indonesia.

The “calling” to start Bread of Stone in 2004 didn’t come to the brothers but their dad, Nehemia Kristijanto. Born in 1951, he is the eldest son of his family living in Jatibarang, a small town in West Java Province, Indonesia, according to New Covenant People on Blogspot.

In 1970 he studied engineering in West Germany and returned to Indonesia in 1979 with his degree. But he felt led to stay with his parents and not seek employment as an engineer. Instead, he started a powerful ministry. He moved back and forth between America and Indonesia until 1992, at which time he settled definitively in America. Today he supports his sons’ music ministry.

“We didn’t come from a musical family and had never played any instruments, but once we heard the call from the Lord, we started taking music lessons,” Bill said.

In 2015, Bread of Stones gained attention with their hit single “Porcelain.”

As the group began to gain significant recognition in 2011, they went through a crisis, teetering on the brink of dissolution. The once inseparable brothers began arguing about everything, Bill admitted on a YouTube video.

But God met them on a trip to Indonesia, which led to a shift in their attitudes. They met a frail single mother who, speaking with the brothers, shared how grateful she was to God to be able to scavenge enough recyclables to eke out a daily meal for her and her kids.

In light of her challenges, their relatively petty First World problems shrank in importance. They determined they would rededicate themselves to God’s higher calling and His purposes.

The band is currently supporting Mercy House in Indonesia, a halfway house to keep women and children off the streets, teach them skills to survive, and introduce them to Jesus. Bread of Stone’s own Indonesia-based ministry is named The Light Project.

“We are honored that we are able to do this ministry,” Bill said. “We realize that the Lord has blessed us and has paved a way for us to continue doing this ministry. We are blessed by all the support that we have from family, friends, fans, and so many others. We are not out doing this to make a name for ourselves, we are simply just following a very surprising call from the Lord and we are all enjoying the ride.”

Hailey Johnson studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.


  1. So glad God held you together from breaking up. I am finding encouragement from your testimony. I am a mother of 7 children. My husband Ernie and myself received a word from the Lord that He was giving our family a music ministry. Our 2 oldest boys went to the Nashville area to try and see if they could use their musical talents and find a way to get their music out. This was difficult because they were new to the area and they tried, but ended up finding other gainful employment to support their wives and children the Lord was sending. However, our 3 younger sons began another group and (as their older brothers) they wrote and composed all of the music they recorded. Our son-in-law made the recordings in our homes. My husband and I were able to help them out more than their older brothers and they had their brothers and sisters now in the Nashville area to help them with housing and getting involved with their community and church. I said all this because our three younger sons have had a measure of success and they had a really fantastic producer help them record their last CD called “Come Alive”. We paid for this out of pocket , so we owned the music. Their producer then wanted to have them sign with his new record label but the contract was not a good one. We had gotten advice from Gregg who was a lawyer working with music contracts. My oldest son knew him through his work, he became a paralegal and is now a lawyer, so we sought his advice. Ultimately, Root Road, which is the name of their group did not jump on board. Since then we did everything by the mercy of God to put the new CD into production with all that goes along with that and they did release it last March 2017. They are known pretty well in the Nashville, Murfreesboro area and have sold some CD’s, but that’s where we are right now, not to mention the oldest of the three, he and his wife just had a baby boy in June 2017, and the next oldest son in the group got married in October of 2016 and they are having their son today. The youngest one is still single, but stays busy with work and church ministry. All that to say they have been having some real life challenges, but still want to continue doing Root Road, but we are struggling here. Gregg knows you and I believe he is your lawyer too. He called my husband yesterday and asked how Root Road is doing. My husband let him in on what’s been going on and he gave my husband your number to call. That was out of the blue,really. We’ve been praying to the Lord for direction forRoot Road. Lord where do we go from here? We really don’t know you from Adam and never heard about your group until Gregg gave my husband your name and number, he thought you guys might know something that could help us. My husband Ernie Gilkes Jr will probably be calling you, but I don’t know when. He works 10 to 12 hours a day 6 days a week as an electrical planner for USS/LTC ( United States Steel/ Lorain Tubular Corporation). He may be retiring soon and plans on trying to help Root Road directly. Just know for some reason God put you on Gregg’s heart to tell my husband about you. I don’t know what God’s up to , but I know we have been praying for direction for awhile. You can check us out at and listen to their music and see them too! God bless you for your faithfulness. He’s got His people out and He wants to get His message and Good News out. If you can, send me a message back at and let me know you got this message.

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