The Beautiful Pursuit

THE BEAUTIFUL PURSUIT  |  Podcast , ±46 min episodes every 11 weeks, 2 days  | 
Hosted by Ant McDonald, The Beautiful Pursuit is a podcast for the passionate ones. The ones who feel a fire in their bones, and the ones who wish they did. Originally dreamt up as a worship podcast (for worship leaders and musicians), The Beautiful Pursuit is more like a falling into the deep well of worship and never climbing out. To live encouraged. Inspired. And built up in Love.

For Ant, The Beautiful Pursuit has been the pursuit of Jesus in it all. Not only Jesus in church or Jesus music, but Jesus in everything. Jesus in family, in friendships, in waking and sleeping, in highs and lows, in disappointments and dreams. He's either in everything or it's religion.

Ant spent years working for Christian record label Integrity Media Africa, interviewing artists from all over the world - legends like Michael W. Smith, Lenny le Blanc, Martin Smith, Jeremy Riddle, Kari Jobe - to mention a few. She would unpack and understand their processes; explore their unique personalities and listen to the stories that shaped their art and expression. What she found was powerful, beautiful stories from ordinary people behind some extraordinary songs. Songs that often started out as scribbles in journals or awkward voice notes - and evolved into anthems that have touched the furthest corners of the globe and championed people's hearts and lives.

Inspired by those early conversations, Ant has created this podcast to give those stories wings, and bring them into people's homes and hearts.

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In this interview Ant speaks to Julian Adams about his new book, Terra Nova: New Earth. Julian is a co-director of Frequentsee and leader of The Table, Boston. He is an author, spiritual advisor, revelatory teacher, and leadership consultant in political, business, and creative spheres. An internationally recognised prophet, Julian has a proven track record in the fulfilment of words released over individuals, communities, and nations.

Terra Nova: New Earth is an invitation to see the world, and ourselves, through the eyes of our Creator—loved, valued, creative, and called. The story of creation becomes the story of our lives, as we learn to partner with Jesus, walk in deeper prophetic insight, and join in the Eden commission to see the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). God’s original plan for humanity is still His plan: that we will co-reign with Him and extend His kingdom across the earth.

The culture of our towns and cities, how our businesses are run, and how we respond to issues of social justice are all meant to be shaped by God’s people. Terra Nova masterfully weaves together our understanding of God’s purposes on the earth with His purpose for our lives: to walk in kingdom revelation, love, and influence in everything we do.
The Beautiful Pursuit Website The Beautiful Pursuit on YouTube - Watch this live interview video


Worship leaders you don't want to miss this deep and authentic conversation with one of the most influential voices in worship ministry in our generation. Suzy Yaraei has released numerous albums and trained and mentored many well-known and influential artists and worship leaders around the world. Kim Walker, Josh Baldwin, Misty Edwards, Jonathan and Melissa Helser, John Mark McMillan all trained under Suzy. She co led MorningStars Worship Department with Don Potter for years. Her greatest desire in ministry is to help free people to worship God with abandon and discover who they are in Christ. In this podcast she talks about embracing our uniqueness, how words help us to heal, and shares her love story with her husband Kamran and tells us all about their work into The Middle East via satellite... Friendship with The Holy Spirit and knowing Him feels like a thread that runs through this conversation too. Enjoy!


With COVID-19 and this global pandemic arriving in our neighborhoods, we are all grappling with a new way of living. A significant number of people all over the world have been thrust into homeschooling. One of the most googled questions at the moment is 'how do I homeschool?'... Wrapped up in a very strange, new world - there may just be gifts for us all. What if one of these is having our children at home, around the table? What if we are forever altered by this space - in beautiful ways we haven't even begun to imagine? May this conversation inspire your anxious heart and give you courage to take back your home, your space, your family and your relationships with your children...


"Easy answers are easily replaced". American artist Jason Upton speaks to Antoinette McDonald from his hometown Wisconsin. In this interview they speak about spontaneity, mystery, certainty, remembrance and wonder. The importance of listening and waiting... Upton is a singer/songwriter with the heart of a pastor. Whether he is leading people in worship through singing or speaking, Jason does his best to carry the heart of The Father. His songs and his messages reflect a life fully lived in relationship with God, family and friends.
The Beautiful Pursuit website


Do you long to flourish? Live full of hope, vision and purpose? Actually follow your heart and your dreams? Be inspired to do just that - to start with the everyday, the ordinary. To learn to thrive and not just survive. Kirstin Maud is one of the founders of Motherland Coffee Company in South Africa. Together with her husband Rob Maud, they lead a vibrant community called The Collective Church in Johannesburg. In this interview Kirstin talks with Ant McDonald about vision.


This September I welcome cognitive neuroscientist Dr Caroline Leaf to The Beautiful Pursuit. Dr. Leaf holds a Ph.D. in communication pathology from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Since 1981 she has researched the science of thought as it relates to thinking, learning, renewing the mind, gifting and potential. We spoke about her latest work, THINK LEARN SUCCEED while she was in South Africa promoting the book.


I spoke to Charlotte-based singer- and platinum selling songwriter John Mark McMillan just after releasing his 6thalbum and coming off a 35 City Tour in the USA to promote it. Many are familiar with his name especially after he wrote the song “How He Loves” and everyone from Kim Walker and Jesus Culture to the David Crowder Band, and Flyleaf covered the song. Years later churches around the globe are still singing that song week after week too.

I was impacted by John Mark’s incredible depth and tenderness – his vulnerability and profound grasp on the humanity of Jesus. I loved his thoughts on friendship and seeking out relationships with people who aren’t like us…

There’s a potent segment of this interview on vulnerability too.

And if you’re a songwriter or a worship leader you will be challenged to hear him speak about his writing processes, honesty in worship music – and the song story behind ‘How He Loves”…


In this episode, I chat to international bestselling author, William Paul Young. Young’s book The Shack has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and been translated into more than 40 different languages. In this interivew we speak about The Shack and its success, as well as looking into his latest book, Lies We Believe About God.


Life, as Melissa so aptly puts it is so full of pain and heartache, joy and delight. It's the full spectrum. And we aren't always prepared for that range of emotions and experiences. Yet Jesus immersed himself in it all - in family and in friendships - in the human experience. He faced heartache, betrayal, persecution, pain and death. And then He left us with the beautiful gift of the Helper - The Holy Spirit. So we would never go through ANYTHING alone again.

One of my favorite parts of this interivew is Melissa speaking about the fruit that suffering produced in her life. I was undone (as you will hear). That is zero resistance to The Holy Spirit – allowing whatever we are going through to produce the good fruit of kindness, mercy, grace, patience and self control in our lives. It’s like there is this ongoing invitation from the Holy Spirit to an upgrade in our nature. To our true selves. We are often busy fretting or freaking out – and the Holy Spirit is wooing us – come away with me – let’s get a heavenly perspective on this. He never leaves us. He never expected us to have all the answers.

I've titled this episode 'Thriving in the Human Experience' after Jonathan and Melissa's powerful statements about embracing life and our connection to Jesus no matter what we are going through.

They kick off by speaking vulnerably about Melissa's journey with chronic pain as a result of a rare bone disease she has been struggling with since she was 17. I asked her about self-pity, bitterness and disappointment in God. How she's managed her heart through such tough seasons. Jonathan speaks about all this from his perspective as her husband and best friend. Its incredible stuff.

And for those of you who want to hear the delightful story of how Bethel Music signed the Helsers – it's all in this episode.

May you be inspired and continue strong in your own beautiful pursuit.


I’ve heard Jonathan say before that the more heaven comes to earth – the more earth looks like family. I love that so much of what they speak about in building a ministry – is much like building a family. I’ve known The Helsers since 2010 – I was part of a team who brought them out to South Africa for two worship schools in Johannesburg – one in 2011 and one in 2012. In 2015 I visited them in North Carolina and attended their adult retreat for three-life-changing days. In 2016, my husband and some of our dearest friends did the same. We are all forever changed by their lives and ministry to our hearts. “We had a mentor early in our life - he sat us down and said it’s so important that you teach a generation to become what they’ve never received.” — Melissa Helser


It was amazing to listen to Martin Smith - the man who's penned some of the modern churches best loved songs, speak about life, and marriage, family and his deep passion for God and making music. I loved hearing about his new project Army of Bones and how he and his band (young guys who he's basically known since they were kids) are pitching up in clubs and pubs and playing to small crowds. He believes that much in the gift God has given him and he's got nothing to prove in the process. You get the sense that he's just following his heart.

After 17 years of making albums, filling stadiums and touring around the world with Delirious, Martin called it a day in 2009. He went home to fully be with his wife and six children. The adjustment couldn't have all been tea and cake after so many years on the road. And yet when you sit face to face with Martin, his humility is disarming. He's seemingly unaffected by all that. He's a regular guy with a soft heart. He pauses and contemplates a lot. Words don't come cheap. You feel the strength and stability of his character in all he says - and sings.

I plan on asking everyone I interview what the beautiful pursuit means to them. Martin's answer to that question couldn't have have warmed my heart more. He so simply summed up one of the core pillars of what the beautiful pursuit is for me. Family and marriage. "The pursuit of staying together". What use are the songs we write and sing if our most intimate relationships aren't thriving and overflowing with the goodness and wholeness that is the very essence of the Kingdom of God?
For more on Martin Smith, visit his website.


What a way to kickstart The Beautiful Pursuit. Martin Smith was one of my favorite interviews back in 2008 when I was freelance writing and producing for Integrity Music. I happened to be in London when the opportunity arose to interview him. My husband Rowan and I woke up at sparrows one morning to get from London to Brighton to interview Martin in his hometown at his favorite coffee shop. That was fun! He'd recently closed Delirious and was working on an inspiring project called CompassionArt.

To interview Martin again almost 10 years later was an honor. He's a humble, gentle giant - so honoring and unassuming. When you speak with him, you collide with depth - depth of heart and soul, depth of integrity in his pursuit of God. His answers don't come cheap. They were birthed and fought for - you can feel it for yourself when you listen.

Martin is an inspiring musician and songwriter - download his new record Army of Bones - its layered with stories and struggles - he says it's a record about "the pursuit of staying together".

I loved so much about this conversation. I loved his honest and grounded assessment of 23 years of marriage to Anna. I loved what he said about faith and danger - how following the Lord is always pretty dangerous: you give your all, you set your ego aside, and you pursue wholeheartedly. And I loved what he said about how our gifting is not just for "the church" but for the world too.

Can't wait for this podcast to go live on December 1st and to hear your thoughts...

12 episodes