Continuing our service projects from the previous day, we spent Wednesday morning sweeping out dusty cabins, beating out mattresses, and insulating screen windows with sheets of plastic covering to prepare Victory Mountain Camp for a girls' retreat that will take place in two weeks (please keep the girls who will be attending in your prayers!) We kept our spirits up in the gently warming forest clearing by intermingling cheerful conversation with practical requests and punctuating broom strokes with snippets of song, forming a sweet symphony of the fellowship we share on so many levels, from spiritual to musical to relational to practical.
After lunch, we sang for a crowd of elementary and middle school students at Redeemer School in Salem. Ms. Tanya's experience as a kindergarten teacher specially equips her to minister to such groups of children. She had them participate in vocal warm-ups alongside us in addition to our standard tour repertoire, gently explaining the significance of our music both in the physical quality of our voices and the spiritual power of our message as she led them to participate in worship with us.
Wednesday evening, we joined Ignited Youth Ministry at Cath the Fire Raleigh, where Ms. Tanya's daughter and faithful GC assistant director Tiffany Egler is a leader, for their combined middle school and high school meeting. This was the first chance our step team had an opportunity to perform. Both Monday and Tuesday nights, Uncle Jeff had spent time training around twenty of us choir members in step ministry, which combines rhythms of spoken scriptures with foot stomping, clapping, and various actions and hand motions to communicate our message. Although there are several active veterans of step team, many of us (including me!) had never stepped before, and the times of Uncle Jeff's intensity, discipline, and enthusiasm whipped us into shape to be prepared to perform on Wednesday. I was nervous beforehand, as the movements of each member of the team must be extremely coordinated and precise. But by God's grace, I experienced a calm during our performance, in awe of the power of God's Word as absolute authority as we quoted from it directly Isaiah 40:31 and 2 Chronicles 7:14. Through our execution was not perfectly flawless, God's promises of faithfulness to those who seek Him are, and I pray that this is what our audience remembers.
Before our music that night, we also had a chance to participate in the youth group's opening game time. Intermingling with the students, a crowd similar in number to our own group, we formed two teams and enjoyed a friendly but enthusiastic competition in charades, where one representative on stage guessed the word his/her teammates were acting out. The fellowship between our group and theirs continued as conversation and laughter transitioned into our worship time, where they added their style of waving banners while joining in our own clapping and choreography. Throughout the night, the enthusiasm, openness, reverence, and wonder displayed by all present, including choir members, youth group attendees, and visitors, united in one sacrifice of praise to our Creator and King. Ultimately, we weren't singing for them, they didn't buy pizza for us, and I'm not writing this blog post for you, dear reader. God alone is our audience, our judge, our support, and our reward.