If you asked me a few years ago what praise & worship meant, even being a PK (pastor’s kid) and growing up singing in the church, I would have simply said “Well it’s when we come together in church to sing praises to God and thank Him for all He’s done and all He is.”
In a way, that is good right….but oh how much more there is! I feel God has me a journey right now showing me more and more what it truly looks like to praise Him, WHY we praise Him and what can happen THROUGH PRAISE! So let me share two stories with you that were a big part of what helped me change my perspective on this…
Last year I had the privilege of going to Haiti for the first time. I knew from other’s experiences and hearing about missions trips my whole life, that I would leave CHANGED and it would have a big impact on me. I knew, I prepared for it and yet God still blew me away more than I ever imagined. Throughout the week, we were in a little tent village called “Village of Grace” and their tents were within a foot or two of each other and held multiple family members in what we would only put 1-2 people in for a night out camping. They were built with whatever materials they could find and they were hotter than anything I’ve ever stepped into in my entire life. Their floor was the dirt ground. Rats would come in, there were no doors for safety and when it rained, they all were soaked. By time we got there, MANY of their houses had been built and many left to go! When I say house, think of an american shed! Yet these people were so thankful, in tears over their new house because it had a floor, it had one window and it had a door with a lock!
They had a church recently built in their village but it needed pews! So I was part of a small group of people who stayed in/near the church the whole week and built pew after pew after pew! I learned so many lessons through that! However, I want to share with you about one thing that has probably been one of IF NOT the most powerful and beautiful times of worship I’ve had yet on this earth! Throughout the days I would sing while working because well that’s what I do. I had taught the kids a few songs already and they already had them memorized and followed me around daily singing them! My mouth hurt so bad every night when we went back because of all the singing 😉 Well, one day we were waiting on the pews to dry before we did another coat of stain I believe. If not that, it was something about the pews that we were waiting on, I just can’t quite remember what. There were a few of us girls from the group in the church and a few of the haitians from the village including what I would call their worship leader because I remember seeing her leading the people in song from a megaphone on Sunday at church. I decided to start singing some of the hymns and songs I remembered they sang in church on Sunday. Songs like Nothing but the Blood, How Great thou Art etc, you know all the classics! What happened next brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it!
The haitians sitting in the pews all of a sudden looked up at me when I started singing and they got a big smile on their faces as they knew the song by the melody even though they couldn’t understand my words. Then they started singing along with me and the other girls in our group. They were singing “what can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus” in Creole while we were singing it in English. The smiles on all of our faces showed the joy of the Lord in that moment. It was incredible! To hear two different languages singing at the same time but in the same melody with the same song TO THE SAME GOD was well…there are no words to truly describe it! We went on from there and just fell into worship together. This little group of us and the haitians were probably 10 total at most! They would start singing a song and I would then listen for the melody and figure it out and start singing and then I would pick one and they would listen for the melody and then start singing along. As I closed my eyes, I had such a sweet glimpse of what it will be like one day when every nation, tribe and tongue will be before Jesus worshipping Him and it won’t matter what color our skin is, where we were born, how much money we have or how much food is in our belly or what we look like. All that will matter is JESUS and in that moment, in Haiti, in that little tent village church, all that mattered to us was Jesus! JESUS was who we all had in common! It was such a beautiful site when I opened my eyes every so often while worshipping and I would see them worshipping, eyes closed or hands raised. I remember towards the end, I was so lost in worship I didn’t even know what had happened but I remember opening my eyes and seeing almost, if not, every window (they had probably 10-30 windows in this church because that is the only way air got in) covered with haitian eyes peeping through watching us sing. You see the church in the village is on the corner of the street so people walking by to the market or wherever heard us and stopped and just stood there looking through the windows at us. I don’t know what they thought, but I do hope they could see that all that mattered to us that day and in that moment was JESUS!
I have so much on my heart I want to share about this that I am going to break it up probably into 3 parts! So stay tuned 😉 After sharing the other story, I will then explain what I learned through both of these stories and the other things God is showing me!