Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Eu falo um pouco de Português.
No hablo español.
Ich spreche kein Deutsch entweder.
But I do speak a language that people all around the world speak – the language of music.
In September of 2011 I led an ESL team from our church, Hilldale in Clarksville, on a mission trip to Portugal. We didn’t need to know Portuguese, we were teaching English. It was a great way for churches in the Porto area to reach out to their communities by offering free English classes. (This trip would be another article in itself, but it leads into our most recent mission adventure.) While we were there with Andy and Michelle Milam (Tennesseans serving with the IMB) Andy mentioned that he would love to have a handbell choir come to Portugal. He knew of several ways and places that a handbell choir could partner with the Portuguese churches to reach out to their communities.
I love handbells, but my adult handbell choir had lost it’s rehearsal time (long story) and hadn’t met in some time. I wasn’t sure if I could get them going again. With their varying jobs and other issues it didn’t look possible. Then God gave me the idea of starting a new handbell choir with our youth. I didn’t have time to teach non-music readers how to read music, so in May and June of 2012 I talked to piano students and band students. “I’m taking a handbell choir to Portugal next summer and I want you to go with us!“
It worked! By the time our rehearsals started in the Fall of 2012 I had eight High School students, one young adult and myself to form a new handbell choir.
Fast forward... here are a few highlights of our preparation:
· We came up with a new cool name – “Rezounding Praize“ and took some publicity shots.
· We rehearsed and worked hard and learned how to ring well together!
· We made a CD of handbell music to give away. A new believer in Portugal recorded the Roman Road for us and we inserted that on the CD in between our songs. We gave away close to 900 CDs. (We were able to make our CDs for about .55 each. E-mail me for info.)
· We have a cool website www.rezoundingpraize.blogspot.com. Our free CD directs you there. On our website you can read about our songs and a little about us, but more importantly there are links that share the Gospel in Portuguese!
Here are some of the things we did in Porto, Portugal:
· “Flash mob“ ringing in the streets to draw crowds. We gave away fliers to an evening concert and free CDs to all who came by.
· Evening concerts to some of the biggest crowds one of the churches had seen in a long time (maybe ever) The highlight of our concerts was an arrangement of the national anthem of Portugal “A Portuguesa.“ They couldn’t believe that we would learn how to play their anthem on handbells. It was awesome! You can hear it here. We played several songs with one of the only handbell choirs in Portugal. Here we are in rehearsal together.
· Ringing for a special 40th anniversary of a private school and making some great connections with the students there.
· Ringing in a restaurant and giving away CDs to patrons and waiters and having a good conversation with the owner. In fact, we were able to share with several restaurant owners about our faith.
· Ringing through the streets and in a street concert in the middle of a housing project of an outcast people group. (The doors for this outreach had been opened by other groups including the BCM group from Austin Peay University in March.) Several groups have now visited this housing complex and the Milams are hopeful that they can now bring in a group to do Backyard Bible Clubs there.
· Shared CDs and smiles with the hotel staff which led to a great conversation about faith with some of the staff later in the week.
There were other connections and opportunities to share in our week in Portugal – too many to mention here. We were able to follow through doors that had been opened by other groups (like an American football coach and players) and we opened new doors for groups that will come behind us.
Most of us didn’t speak any Portuguese – just a few words with a heavy Southern USA accent. But we did speak the language of music and more importantly, the language of God’s love. Jesus said that they would know we were His disciples by our love. His love crosses the barrier of spoken language.
What language do you speak? Sports? Drama? Art? Music? Add it to God’s language of love and you are on your way to a great mission experience (out of the country or at home).