Last night we went to Mom’s 3rd concert since being here. Yeah, I go to a concert like every week. It’s pretty much awesome. Last night’s was a choir called Karisma Gospel. It used to be directed by Byas, the lead singer of the group I was in, but now it’s directed by my good friend Louz. I’ve been invited to join a number of times but after seeing them perform last night I’m a little intimidated by all the beautiful women with great dance moves :o)
Last night at the concert was one of those times when I feel like my life is just one huge divine appointment. God is just so sovereign. I read in Jeremiah 23 the other day: “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” It reminded me that God is not only close to me in a personal way, He’s also out there able to coordinate the circumstances of the entire universe. Last night was a case in point…
So last Sunday my mom and I went to a huge meeting of 8000 people at the Evangelical Church. They have great choirs and we were seated right next to them. In the front row of a choir facing us was a really cute girl who appeared to be about my age. She sang with much enthusiasm and seemed full of joy. She was just one of those people you’re attracted to. I thought I’d like to meet her. (It’s been my wish for the last few weeks to make more girl friends. I love my guy friends, but I figure it would be better if I hung out with other women more.) Well, last night at the concert she was there! I was like “Hey Mom, it’s that cute girl!” I doubted I would get an opportunity to talk to her, but at the end of the concert when everyone started dancing, as they always do, I ended up dancing with her! She started talking to my mom and me in English with an endearing Congolese accent. She was quite jubilant about meeting two Americans and I was no less excited to meet her! We exchanged phone numbers and when we got home I received this message: “Jessica and Dev, Geritte wishes you good night and hopes to see you as soon as possible bye, big kiss! Geritte” Thanks, God!
Also after the concert, an adorable young man from the choir approached me and said he had something to ask. I must have met him before, but I don’t really remember him. He said “I work at an orphanage and in the program of activities I’d like to do an hour of Bible teaching for the kids. When I was thinking about who could come do this from time to time, I thought of you. And here you are tonight!” I’m totally stoked about opportunities to do more direct ministry here (vs. just working in the office), and I was touched that he would have thought of me. Mom was excited too because now we’ll have the opportunity to visit an orphanage while she’s here.
After the concert I felt really energized and full of ideas. Here in our office we’re talking more and more about orality vs. written literature. There’s this idea that not only do people have a language of the heart, but they also have a “heart media”!! This means that here in Africa where there is not a tradition of reading, transmitting God’s Word thru Bible reading alone may not be very effective. That’s just not how they communicate. This is an oral culture here in Congo and they are very musically inclined. It’s awesome. Why toil away trying to get them to read the Bible and beating them over the head with literacy classes, when instead they can interact with the Word in a powerful way via music and incorporate the Scriptures into their lives in a natural and culturally appropriate way that spotlights their strengths?!! I saw firsthand with the Bekwel music project how effective it was!!! (see March 21st post below)
[note: I am not against literacy and I totally respect those that have given their lives to teaching it here in Africa. I just think it shouldn’t be our primary focus because it’s not going to be the primary fruit bearer. As Westerners we highly value reading and our literary tradition. Africans value music and their oral tradition. I think we will see a great surge of effectiveness if we start going with the grain instead of against it.]
At the concert, not only did I witness another amazing musical presentation, but there was also a compelling performance by a theatre troupe. I was totally stoked to realize that all they were doing during the entire 15 minute drama was quoting Scriptures! They went from Genesis to Revelation basically laying out God’s plan for the world from beginning to end. It was done in an artistic and illustrative way and the crowd was totally into it. Wow!!
When I first started getting into music here I thought it was just something fun to do and a good way to make some friends. I had a tiny inkling that God was in it, but I think I’m on the brink of actually discovering how incredibly amazing and advantageous it is to have a whole passel of exceptionally talented musician friends. I don’t know what God is going to do with it yet, but I think it’s going to be big. Our relationship is mutually beneficial. For me, it helps me understand this culture better and is a great way to make friends and continually meet new people. Concerning my vision and work, it gives me a platform for influencing people to get the Scriptures into their lives. I need this musical experience to be more effective as I work with minority languages to write Scripture-based songs, as I did with the Bekwel. For them, I think just by being an outsider who enjoys who God has made them to be and who appreciates their music, I am ministering to them. I can affirm their gifts and perhaps connect them with resources. Plus it’s just stinkin’ cool to have the white girl around :o) I’m seriously a groupie now and a Congolese music junkie. Totally addicted and they love it!
I think Mom’s gonna come home with a drum and exchange her Spanish music for some Congolese “kilombo” :o) She’s lovin’ it too!