"According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." - Philippians 1:20-21
“We are fast approaching the singing from our students.”
I turned to Olivia who was directing the concert with me and said, “I don’t think ‘fast approaching’ is the best way to describe it.” We both laughed as we looked at the time on our phones. The concert had been scheduled for 7pm, and it was already almost 9pm, yet the choir had not yet sung a single song.
Such is life in Ghana 🙂
The evening began with another torrential downpour, thus making it difficult for people to come to the concert. So we all gathered together at 6:45pm to pray that God would give safety to everyone coming to watch us. We finally started the service when it was almost 8pm, and then we spent the next hour giving announcements, talking about the week, and greeting almost everyone on an individual basis.
Olivia and I were in no rush to get started, but we kept checking the time and laughing as we realized how late it was getting. I only wish that Americans were so laid back and patient!
Shortly after 9:00, our choir walked into the building via the back door, the lyrics of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” emanating from their lips. They split up into two lines, encompassing the crowd with their voices before joining back together at the front of the room, lifting their voices to God in 4-part harmony.
Our theme for the program was “ONE,” and we started by singing about our one God. Next, we sang “In Christ Alone” as we focused on the one hope we have in Christ.
Other songs included “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” (one sustainer), “Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone” (one salvation), and “Many Languages, One Word” (one mission). We closed the concert with “Blest Be the Tie that Binds” as we reflected on the one family of God that all believers are a part of.
It was such a joy to listen and see the results of a full week of intense training, and it was even more exciting to know that the campers would go home to their churches and impact them.
At the end of the concert, Olivia and I had the privilege of playing one final song on piano and violin, a medley of the “Story of Jesus” starting from his birth to his future rule over the world.
Despite our different backgrounds, our different cultures, our different appearances, and our varying knowledge of music, we all came together for one full week of worship, training, sharing, and ministry as one people of God speaking one beautiful, universal language- music. It was a taste of heaven for sure!
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10)
“Please tell your church that we thank them for letting you come and minister to us.”
The Ghanaian man who translated for me as I preached thanked me profusely for coming to his church while the congregation nodded their heads in agreement. It meant so much to them that my church in Minnesota would share me with them for a Sunday, one-third of the way around the globe.
When I returned home from Ghana a month ago, I fulfilled my mission and made sure to pass that message on to my church family. But the people at Baptist church in Lawra, Ghana, are not the only ones who are thankful for my church.
Today marks two years for me as an assistant pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Cottage Grove, MN, and I am extremely grateful for this body of believers!
From the beginning they accepted me as family and made me feel at home in my new role, and I do not think God could have placed me in a better situation.
Actually, I know He could not have because His ways are perfect.
So after 730 days at Lighthouse Baptist, why am I thankful to be here?
1) God has given me a loving, supportive church family
2) God has placed me on a pastoral team (alongside a senior pastor and youth pastor) that works together so well
3) God has given me a senior pastor who encourages me to cultivate my loves for photography and travel in addition to my responsibilities in the church
4) God has given me many opportunities to teach children and answer their many questions about the Bible
5) God has given me the opportunity to help several young people develop their musical abilities
6) God has given me the privilege of directing a handbell ensemble
7) God has allowed me to go on several missions trips around the world without disrupting my ministry at home
8) God has placed me near an airport that makes ministry abroad more accessible
9) God has equipped me to start using videography for ministry and subsequently expanded my ministry capacity
10) God has provided for all my needs and much more
What do the next 731 days hold (2020 has one extra day 😉 )? I do not fully know, but I believe they will be even better because I am a child of God.
Thank you Lighthouse for allowing me to serve you and for allowing God to use you to keep changing my life!