Montana Ministry Spurs Tennessee Renewal
If I heard it once I heard it a dozen times, not to mention how many times I thought and prayed it myself. “This really gives things perspective.” The proclamation by several of our brothers and sisters on the Tennessee Mens Chorale mission trip to Montana was spot on as we worshiped in so many different environments and saw the Lord at work in different ways. Joining in songs of praise and directed prayer with pastors from across the wide expanse of Montana surely helped all of us who bask in the Bible belt to recognize how relatively easy we have it when it comes to a glut of resources and practical advantages. The real perspective check, however, came as we heard stories of pastors like Pastor Mike who serves on an Indian reservation where half the people are unemployed and 70% struggle with alcoholism. I found a deep heart check while praying with this brother and hearing from others who have little or no musical resource to lead their church’s worship singing.
I do not think I will ever forget the engaged worship spirit expressed at Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church in Helena as a choir of men (TMC) led worship singing with united hearts and minds, and as a congregation of people joined with such enthusiastic participation to praise our Lord. As was recounted, there were many contributing factors for this engaged worship – a fellowship meal shared with our new friends, brothers and sisters in Christ in Montana we did not know before; a day that began with multiple worship services and powerful sermons by Pastor Paul Jones in Billings and a day trip accented with a television taped appearance that according to even the CBS affiliate anchor “may have been providential – but the most potent factor for me was the humble worshiping spirit of congregation and pastor of Canyon Ferry Road, combined with the strong bond of ministry fellowship of Tennessee Mens Chorale, poised to break into heartfelt song. A model of congregational worship singing – head and heart singing.
I have been deeply moved by the “volunteer spirit” of our TMC and entourage, who found a way to sing in a Cathedral, a church, and a casino all in the same day to declare Jesus is Lord to the glory of God. It seemed to me that every time I turned the corner one of our folks were speaking with hotel clerks, housekeeping staff, restaurant waiters or waitresses, restaurant or casino patrons, and anyone else who appeared to respond to an encouraging word. Opportunity doors swung open following the singing of Doxology at a restaurant where a 78 year old resident requested Happy Birthday be sung in harmony to his 40 year old son. Afterwords with tears in her eyes, the man’s wife declared that they had not heard such harmony in many years and the beauty reminded her of roots that were set as a teenager, where the sounds of glorious hymns were implanted in her mind and heart. She said those chords had been stirred once again in what she heard in the words and music, Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow. She said, “blessings sure did flow here tonight.” Amen.
Brotherhood is fostered in music-making and in mission endeavors. Deeper still when the two are combined in the hearts of our levitical tribe that traveled by plane and automobile to the wild west to rediscover the deep joy of our hearts, to sing the praise of Jesus.
“Let the cross be our glory, and the Lord be our song!”