WHEN IN ROME!!
So happy to announce that we are well over our needed 40 travelers for the Tennessee Mens Chorale Mission trip to Italy! Twenty-eight of those are singers, so we could still use a few more men to round out our voice balance, and especially for the smaller groups that will be singing when we branch off to help smaller churches in outlying areas around the three anchor cities. This is exciting, and releases me to work more diligently with our partners on the Italy side in planning specific ministry opportunities. Whether you are making the trip or not I hope you will join the efforts by praying for this challenging journey. Several who are going are doing so by faith, and are unsure how their funds will be provided. Others face calendar challenges, but have registered trusting the Lord to work out the conflicts. For these and other challenges I hope you will pray.
One of the very exciting things about this trip is the thought of being in Rome with music ministers. Of course in Italy there are many points of immense interest to musicians. From Naples to Florence to Arezzo we will come across notable locales that we all read about in the music history books. That is exciting. But beyond these locations I am thrilled to think about being in the city where the Apostle Paul sang while in prison. One of my personal “moments” for me when in Rome last September with Wayne Causey on the site vision trip last September was in the church outside the walls of the city. Supposedly the burial place of Paul’s bones, there was a section of prison chains encased in glass. I took advantage of the kneeling bench just to give thanks for the courage of the martyrs and to pray for my own spiritual stamina and boldness. The thought of singing the Gospel in Rome is a thrilling prospect. Amidst holy relics and mounds of spiritual symbol, there is at once a spiritual darkness that defies logical comprehension. In my spirit there is a hunger to connect the proverbial dots. From the day I heard Tennessee Baptists would be entering into partnership with Italy as a mission point I sensed this “music must be a part of this” unction. And so, we prepare….
The pastors in Italy that Wayne and I spoke with while in the country told us that music was the language of the people. We were likewise told by Carlo Lella, the Music Minister for Italian Baptists, that the churches had musicians who lead their music, but that there were very few ministers of music. Part of our mission in Italy will be to help churches grasp the power of music to communicate the Gospel and to fuel worship of the heart.
I wish every one of you could be a part of this trip. They are planned to provide mission and ministry opportunity whereby you and I can offer our abilities and interests to be used by the Holy Spirit in building the Kingdom. What a privilege! I find sharing the Gospel in song as TMC to be life-giving and joyous wherever it occurs. I can only imagine what it is going to be like engaging in that expression in the land of Peter and Paul, the place where musical chant and notation was born, and the place where art in all forms is highly celebrated and revered. It will surely renew us all as we engage in Kingdom work when in Rome!