Three Things I Learned from the Church in Asia
My missions team just returned from a sixteen-day trip conducting worship leader training in two countries in Southeast and East Asia. In one of these countries, Christians don’t have the freedoms that we have in the United States to openly worship God. They have experienced extreme persecution for years–many dying for their faith. I was amazed by many things:
- The hunger of the people to understand worship and improve their times of worship. Our team led an extended Worship Leader Boot Camp (three days and nights) contextualized for that country. Over 70 people from rural areas made the long journey for the training, sleeping on the floor of the facility as many as five nights. They were amazingly attentive and interested in every aspect of the training. I have never encountered a group of learners any more engaged in training and willing to sacrifice in such a way to obtain it.
- The preciousness of times of corporate worship. Last week’s post grew out of my Asia experiences when I asked, “Is Your Worship Precious?” The first time I encountered their times of worship, I was moved to tears as I realized that just years ago, these people could only whisper their worship in quiet rooms, knowing their lives were in danger. Today, while their worship is still outlawed, they are bold and sometimes even loud in their proclamation. Our band led an evangelistic worship event one evening utilizing songs known in that country, but sung by us in English (other language was on the screen), and I was amazed by the boisterous praise that erupted during a contemporary, upbeat version of “How Great Thou Art.” It was as if they wanted to be heard by the millions of people in their city proclaiming the greatness of our God. I experienced many times of passionate worship unlike anything I have experienced in the USA. I am afraid we take our times of corporate worship for granted and have grown fairly complacent here.
- Their reverence and love for the Bible. During one of the training events, I asked my interpreter to read a passage of scripture. She suggested the entire assembly read it together as I later learned is a regular practice of the church. I was once again moved to tears as I heard everyone loudly reading the precious passage of God’s word–something just years ago was very difficult to obtain (copies of the Bible), now was to be heard loudly coming from the lips of believers. Listen to an excerpt: Bible Reading in Asia
This experience has caused me to examine my own life and evaluate if I place great value on God’s word and the opportunity to worship Him. After this experience, it will be even more heart breaking to attend worship services that are void of passion and full of meaningless repetition (basically the same thing every week). It will be hard to worship in an environment laden with complacency and fighting over worship styles. I pray that we will learn much from our Asian brothers and sisters.