Worship leadership training that has impacted over 1,000 people in North Carolina this past year is headed for three countries in SE Asia later this month. A team of twelve NC Baptist musicians will make a journey of more than 24 hours to reach their destination for a 15-day missions trip that will bring intensive worship training, worship events, teaching, and more to SE Asia.
Churches in all three countries are English speaking, and their worship style is very much like NC churches with a more contemporary style of worship. Worship there is typically led by keyboard, guitars, drums, vocal teams, and occasionally additional string or wind instruments. Music that they use is pretty much the same body of contemporary worship music and hymns that we know in North Carolina.
My connection with SE Asia goes back ten years as I took a team of worship musicians from Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville (the church I was serving at the time) to Malaysia to lead worship for a regional annual meeting of over 100 IMB missionaries and their families. This came as a result of the partnership Baptist Men had with Malaysia and Singapore. While our team was there, we were asked to lead some worship training for the churches in Malaysia and Singapore. It was during this trip that I finally discovered that my passion for missions and my passion for worship could come together in a great way.
Indeed, a passion for helping SE Asian Christians in leading worship developed in the hearts of our team. The team returned in the summer of 2005 and traveled extensively through Malaysia leading worship events. One highlight was an evangelistic choral festival in Kuala Lumpur with a 100+ voice choir of Malaysian Christians. Our instrumentalists and vocalists provided accompaniment and solos for the concert which was attended by well over 1000 people–many of non-Christian backgrounds. Malaysia is a Muslim country with a very large Buddhist and Hindu population.
My church gave me a missions sabbatical in the summer of 2006, and I spent the summer working with churches in Kuala Lumpur, helping them develop their worship ministries. Three years later, the team from Front Street Baptist returned to Malaysia and another country in SE Asia to do more worship training and lead worship events. I strongly recommend that many of you consider taking a sabbatical to go to another part of the world and help equip believers in the worship ministry, or find other ways God can use you and your passions. Over the eight years that Front Street Baptist Church was committed to helping churches in SE Asia, several thousand people in that region were touched through training and events–a huge impact from a single church from a small town in North Carolina.
This year, our team is made up of several returning musicians from Front Street, but about half of the team is made up of other NC musicians; the team represents a wide range of ages from the teens to the 60s. We will be going into three countries leading Worship Leader Boot Camps, providing breakout classes in various instruments (guitar, bass, keys, drums, etc.), leading worship concerts (90 minute worship services with much congregational participation), working with individual worship teams, leading worship in churches, preaching, doing concerts in secular schools, and more. We have a very aggressive schedule of work.
Having this team of people from different churches and regions of the state has been challenging. Learning a core repertoire of around 25 worship songs plus the school concert music has been difficult–especially when your team does not live close together. We began rehearsals last weekend with a 9-hour rehearsal one day and a 7-hour rehearsal the next day. How do you spell “tired”? We go at it again this weekend for two days of intense rehearsing, and one of our members will lead the rehearsal for the school concert next Monday. The scary thing for me is that the entire group will have NEVER rehearsed together until we reach Singapore! Yes, I am learning to have much faith in God’s provision.
Speaking of God’s provision, it is amazing to me how God has brought this team together. I had never met many of the people on team before. Yet, He has formed the team of people with a heart for God, a passion for worship, and a desire to see all nations proclaim that Jesus is Lord. We have great expectations for what God will do as we surrender our lives to Him for this trip.
Great Commission Partnerships of the Baptist State Convention of NC is exploring strategic partnerships with several countries in the South China Sea region, of which these three countries lie. Our work this summer is partnering with IMB, Baptist conventions, churches, and leaders in these three countries.
Consider how you and your church worship ministry can get outside of the four walls of your church to impact the nations for Christ. Starting in your neighborhood is a great place to start.