Wednesday, December 13, 2006
India Trip Part 2 - Guitar Center Worship, You Are There
Almost as rare a sightings of big-foot are pictures of me in khakis and dress shoes. Here's a grainy photo of a person in khakis we think is me...
Local woman praying in the church building
- A view of the crowd from the stage
- Hangin' with the local worship leader
Worship was an interesting part of my trip to India. I really didn’t know what to expect concerning leading worship on the other side of the world. First off I was concerned with the language barrier. I was told that less than half of the people where we were going spoke English and that even fewer would be able to read the words to the songs in English on the screens. Secondly, I was concerned about the cultural barriers. I was given a list of songs that I was told to use at the conference. The list was comprised of top 40 worship songs from the last 10 years such as Shout to the Lord, Here I Am to Worship etc. However, I really wondered how much the indigenous people of India were going to connect with these very American/ Western European style songs. I tried imagining how much I would connect with worship songs from India if one of their worship leaders lead worship at my church. I figured it would be awkward at the very least. So I was very sensitive to this when I arrived at the first conference. I was glad to see that there was a local worship band ready to lead some songs at the first conference. I sat in with them on the first couple of songs, which were naturally very Indian sounding. Then it was my turn to lead. I went into “Here I Am to Worship” and I could tell within about 10 seconds that no one was singing along. So by the end of the song I launched into an oldie – “Hallelujah”. “Hallelujah” is one of those words that is the same everywhere I’ve been in the world – one of those transcendent words with which Christians from around the world can connect. Immediately everybody in the room was on the same page with me. In that moment the barriers of culture, language, and worship style dissolved as we set our hearts on Christ together.
Two days later we began our second Alpha conference. I was expecting similar worship challenges. I met with the local worship pastor and asked him to do the first two songs and told him that I would do two songs after him. I assumed the band would be of the same caliber as the previous conference, but there’s always that little bit about assuming things. To my surprise the Indian worship leader just starts singing, leaving the band struggling to find what key he was in. By the end of the second song they were getting close to the same key but everything still sounded pretty crazy. It was time for me to lead my songs and I figure the band would not try to play songs they didn’t know. Well once again I was wrong. They struggled to play along the whole time. I struggled to not pay attention to how dissonant everything sounded, but it was really hard. It was something like trying to lead worship in a Guitar Center (for those of you who have been to a Guitar Center you will know what I’m talking about, for those of you who haven’t imagine a bunch of songs being played on various instruments coming at you from every direction and key and you’ll have a bit of an idea.)
The next day I asked that only the drummer play with me. I really tried to keep things as simple as I could. It was amazing how different things turned out on day two of that conference. Again I went with a couple of very simple songs and an even simpler line up of musicians. As I launched into the chorus of “Hosanna” I began to feel God’s presence fill the room. Everyone was worshipping. We felt God’s peace descend upon us. Though I was thousands of miles from home, I felt at home. Though I was in a foreign country, with a different culture and customs I felt close to these people as if they were my own brothers and sisters. Later that day we invited the people up for prayer. Just about every person in the place came up for prayer. We prayed for mothers who faced persecution from Hindu family members, asthmatics, and those who simply wanted to surrender more completely to God among many other prayer requests. We saw God move in a very powerful way as we prayed with these brothers and sisters on the other side of the world. I come away in awe of the God we serve and how he meets us no matter where in the world we are. I read Psalm 139 at the beginning of my time in India. The words became more and more real to me throughout the trip.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.