The call came at 4 a.m., India time. Evangelist Franklin Graham, in the country for a crusade, jumped out of bed and answered his vibrating iPhone.
It was Michael W. Smith, the contemporary Christian singer-songwriter, calling from Nashville, with an idea: Franklin, he said, I'm producing a song for Haiti and want some of the proceeds to go to Samaritan's Purse.
That would be the Boone-based Christian relief agency headed by Graham and one of the first charities to reach Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake.
Hours after that January call from Smith, Graham had his own idea: Why not a whole album for Haiti, with Smith's new song as well as others from such Christian artists as Israel Houghton and Flyleaf?
The result: "Healing 4 Haiti," which was No. 2 Thursday on iTunes' list of best-selling Christian-gospel CDs. It's also available on amazon.com and will arrive in stores March 16.
With a Smith-penned, all-star-chorus anthem titled "Come Together Now," the 15-song CD is the latest example of what might be called the "We are the World" impulse by musicians who want to help the suffering - and urge others to do so - by donating their time and talent. It's also one of the most overtly religious such efforts to date.
Titles include "I Worship You," "Everlasting God" and "Healer." A sticker on the label proclaims "Christian Artists Unite!" And all proceeds will go to Samaritan's Purse and to the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which has sent chaplains into Haiti.
Proceeds from "Come Together Now," which is also available as a single, will be split between Samaritan's Purse and, in a nod to the mainstream market, the American Red Cross.
Recorded in Nashville, with a chorus that included Vince Gill, Amy Grant and Wynonna Judd, the song doesn't mention Jesus. But it's filled with Christ-like imagery: "Let's go walking on the water till we reach the other side."
And, said Grammy winner Smith, it was his Christian faith that prompted him to write the song four days after the earthquake and donate whatever it makes to those suffering in Haiti. (Cindy Morgan and David Mullen also got writing credit on the song.)
"These are the kinds of things that Jesus likes," Smith said. "We can sing worship songs till we're blue. But if we're not reaching out to those who are hurting ... our prayers fall on deaf ears."
Teaching about giving
Besides raising money for Samaritan's Purse's efforts in Haiti, Graham said he hopes "Healing 4 Haiti" and its message will also help teach young people - the target audience - a life lesson.
"It's important for young people, for another generation, to be taught how to give - and the responsibility of giving," said Graham.
In recent years, Graham, who also heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has tried to host more crusades - he calls them festivals - geared to young people. Last summer, in cities along the Mississippi River, he preached at a series of festivals dubbed "Rock the River." Several of the Christian artists on the new CD performed.
In recruiting artists for "Healing 4 Haiti," Graham said he was looking for their songs about "the healing of the human spirit and the hope we have in Christ."
Christian soloist Israel Houghton contributed the title song from his Grammy-winning CD, "The Power of One (Change the World)," which he said is "about getting outside yourself and how one person can make a difference."
Houghton, Smith and Lacey Mosley, a singer with Flyleaf, all visited Haiti and inspected Samaritan's Purse's operations. Some of what they saw made it onto videos promoting the album and Smith's song.
After writing "Come Together Now," Smith did what producer Quincy Jones recently did when he remade "We Are the World" for Haiti by bringing a roomful of stars together - Lady Gaga, Eminem, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake and many others.
In Smith's case, he invited about 130 other Christian and country stars based in Nashville to gather together and help him record it. His first call, he said, was to Vince Gill. Others who showed up included tobyMac, the Oak Ridge Boys, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Casting Crowns.
Twenty days after the song was written, Smith had produced it and commissioned a video that mixed images from Haiti with those at the recording session.
"There was such a sweet spirit in the place," Smith said of the session. "No egos. We were all there to help rebuild this country (of Haiti)."
That will take a lot of cash. Graham said Samaritan's Purse has raised about $40 million so far for Haiti, and has spent about $10 million so far.
But that's just the beginning, he vowed: "We will be there, I'm sure, a couple of years."