It’s 9:30 PM, at the end of my first day of teaching at Love-N-Care Ministries. There are close to 80 pastors who have come from surrounding villages and towns to hear teaching on worship, and to reconnect with one another. Right now I can hear them in the distance, singing praises to God in their native tongue of Telugu.
The day seemed to go well. One of the things I asked people to pray for is that I would be able to connect quickly with the men. I felt the Lord answered those prayers, even though only a handful of pastors speak English. I addressed the topics What is Worship? and Why Do We Sing? As I expected, being here is helping me see the difference between what is cultural and what is biblical in worship. Even though we sing different songs, in different languages, with different musical accompaniment, God’s purpose for singing remains the same: to remember His Word, to respond to His grace, and to reflect His glory.
The value of using music to remember God’s Word was brought home when a number of men acknowledged they can’t read. I told them that they would have a more difficult task than those who can read, but our task is the same: to remember God’s Word and to help our people do the same.
Many of the songs we’ve been singing were written by some of the pastors here. That’s another answer to prayer – to be able to speak to the songwriters. I told them they have a crucial role in serving the churches. I reminded the group today that John Wesley’s sermons have been forgotten, but millions sing the words of his brother, Charles. Music helps us remember God’s Word. Tomorrow evening, I’ll be meeting with them after the teaching sessions to talk about ways they can develop and sharpen their gifts. From what I’ve been able to glean, they already have a vision for writing biblical, Christ-exalting congregational songs.
At the end of the day I spent about 30 minutes with a young man named John Wesley. He’s been playing the keyboard for our meetings, but has no training. In spite of that, he believes God has called him to lead congregational worship. I was able to teach him some basic chord theory, and he was overjoyed. He is definitely fertile soil for whatever I’m able to teach him.
This morning I read in Psalm 40:17:
As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.
Many of the men at the conference have been persecuted or experienced opposition. Some have seen friends and relatives killed for their faith. It is inexpressibly comforting to know that in our weakest moments, in our direst straits, in our greatest times of lack – the LORD himself takes thought for us. Governments, family, and friends may pass us by, but the Lord will never forget us nor abandon us. His steadfast love does indeed endure forever.
More tomorrow, God willing…