Saturday, March 14, 2015

Day 6 (Thursday): You Reign Forever

Day 6 (Thursday): You Reign Forever

It’s not often that I see kids get excited about routines—school, church, you name it. But today I saw a foil to that. We pulled up to Wesleyan Christian Academy yesterday shortly before 9:00a, with most of the choir feeling groggy, tired, and wanting to go back to sleep. Being a Christian school, chapel attendance is mandatory for middle and high school students. As they walked in, I couldn’t tell much of a difference from their faces and ours. But in spite of our exhaustion we knew that we would have to bring our best to the table. After all, if we don’t give God our all, why should we give him anything?

So we brought it. As soon as we were introduced to the school by their student chaplain, we began one of the most intense sessions of worship we’ve experienced so far on tour. Song by song, I watched the kids in the audience get more and more into their praise until, finally, more than half of them in the chapel had swarmed onto and in front of the stage. 

“You reign forever and ever and ever!” they chanted with us. And they didn’t sing timidly either—they were so passionate in their worship and just so enthralled with the words that for 2mins after the band brought the song to a resolve, the kids were still singing those words over and over again. That moment was easily one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed. The beauty of the moment only increased when the school chaplain told us that in his 21 years of working at Wesleyan nothing like that had ever occurred. 

The excitement continued as Sam Cho, one of our insanely talented guitarists and a Wesleyan alumnus, was able to share his testimony with the rest of the students in the building. (I can’t do Sam’s story justice, so I’d encourage our student readers to get to know Sam and his awesome story themselves—his sense of humor is contagious, and he is easily one of the most talented people I believe I’ve ever met.)

After another chapel service for Wesleyan’s high schoolers at ~11:00a, we were treated to lunch in the cafeteria, which gave us the opportunity to sit with the students we’d just sung to, getting to know more about their own school while also sharing our experiences at Wheaton.

The blessings didn’t end there, though. Sam Cho’s parents were kind enough to invite us all to their beauty shop and then into their home, bringing a day full of concerts to a relaxing end in their backyard. I popped open a bottle of Mandarin Jarritos soda, flipped open a book, and just laid in the grass with the blue sky above me. Everything was quiet. It felt amazing.

We’ve still got a few more days of touring left and spirits are still high—even in the midst of the stressful times it’s still very obvious what God is doing with and through us on this trip.


Day 5 (Wednesday): Audience of One

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.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Day 4 (Tuesday): I Just Want to Be in Your Service

Day 4 (Tuesday): I Just Want to Be in Your Service

As a member of Tuesday’s breakfast crew, I reported to the kitchen at 7 a.m. with several other still drowsy choir members to help scramble eggs, cook bacon, make a pot of grits, mix pancake batter, and boil sweet tea as the sun slowly rose behind the misty trees outside. To their credit, the breakfast crews for days 5 and 6 started work at 6 and 5:15 respectively, so my group couldn’t complain about an early awakening. Every morning, however, Dennis, one of our faithful hosts at Victory Mountain Camp, cheerfully greeted the choir with a humble smile to direct us in a soft Southern accent through the kitchen’s maze of extra-large pans, ovens, and spoons. His love for Christ spills over to the whole choir in many practical ways, and we thank him for his hard work, encouraging words, and kind spirit present with us throughout the week.

Choir members with North Raleigh Christian
Academy students after our concert
After cleaning up breakfast, we drove to North Raleigh Christian Academy, who fed us a generous Southern lunch before we sang for a full auditorium of energetic students. One of the joys of tour besides singing ourselves is being joined by other young believers and getting to meet them. After this concert in particular, several students joined us on stage, encouraging us with their joy whether dancing or chatting. They took interest in the Wheaton College brochures that we often have available when we sing at schools, but we enjoyed their presence regardless of the possibility of meeting potential future choir members.

In appreciation of Victory Mountain Camp providing housing for us, we’ve been helping get the grounds ready for this season’s campers. On Tuesday, this included up an outdoor sheltered stage and worship area. Some used leaf blowers, some swept or mopped, and a few adventurous people learned to control an unwieldy buffer machine to clean the floor. Many of us carried boards up the hill to put up in the barn loft, which had the benefit of visiting its inhabitants including rabbits, goats, chickens, and pigs. Satisfyingly tired from a day of singing and physical labor, we built a campfire on the lakeshore that evening for a refreshing time of s’mores, music, and laughter before settling in for the night.

We praise God for the sweet fellowship we experience through His name, whether within our own group, with our hosts, or with the people we sing for. Even if the results are not always immediately visible, it gives me joy to play a part as God builds together His church to declare His praise.--Nina

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Day 3 (Monday): They That Wait Upon the Lord Shall Renew Their Strength

DAY 3 (Monday): They That Wait Upon the Lord Shall Renew Their Strength

Only 3 days in and the need for rest is REAL. Our first full concert (which Nina detailed in the last post), though an amazing 2.5 hrs of worship, left our voices wanting some serious down time. So by 9:30 on Monday morning we were all gathered in the hotel lobby preparing for a day of refreshment out on Wilmington beach. The weather wasn’t ideal for sunbathing or swimming in the waves (some gov’t posted signs even indicated a $250 fine for unauthorized swimming), but the view was like none other.

Sam Kim ('17) walks towards the water to give it a try

Against the pewter clouds the ocean danced up in frigid green waves. Sea gulls flocked around, avoiding us save for when they noticed that one of our tenors, Keith, had some left over buffalo wings with him. The wind made it a bit chilly, but we were all just happy to have sand beneath our feet and to see water that wasn’t frozen for a change. I walked down the beach a little ways, marvelling at all the different ways that God reveals himself through his creation. It was so nice to be able to finally just relax and reflect on his great works!

At 1:00p, after an hour and a half of beach-time, Rev. Davis from Warner Temple took us on a brief tour of historic Wilmington. During the late 1800s, the African-American population here suffered a lot of oppression from white Americans, she said. What she said after this was especially powerful: “Even though it’s difficult to talk about [past oppression], it’s a necessary conversation.” It’s a conversation that leads to the reconciliation that God desires of all his people—to forgive each other, to understand each other, and to love each other as God has with us. I feel like this conversation is especially important in the Wheaton College Gospel Choir. We’re all friends, but we’re also a very diverse group of people, representing differences in race, ethnicity, nationality, religious belief, political leaning…. What I find most striking though is that we’re still able to come together as human beings, as members of this choir, as believers in Christ, acknowledging that through our differences, we worship the same God.

Reading about the paddle monument in historic Wilmington

Before we left Wilmington, there was still plenty of time to goof around. Model shots on old courthouse stairs, face-sized sandwiches, Spanish moss—what more could you want from a day in the South? At 3:00p, we loaded up the bus yet again and shipped off down to Raleigh, to leave the beach and arrive in the low hills of the Appalachian mountains at Victory Mtn. Camp where we’ll be staying in cabins for the next 4 days, sleeping to the sounds of a quite different choir—frogs and crickets and wind in the trees. — Connor

Day 2 (Sunday): Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

Upon arrival at Warner Temple AME Zion, where we would be having a concert the following afternoon, we had our first rehearsal with Uncle Jeff. Like a commander over his troops, he kindled into flame our enthusiasm and channeled our energy and focus into singing with authority and unity. “God is your audience,” he reminded us, “they’re just fellow participants,” as he waved over the empty pews that next day would be filled with worshipers. With the time zone change and springing the clocks ahead, we lost two hours that day, but no time was lost in light of the eternity we have to praise a God who reigns forever.

DAY 2 (Sunday): Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

We settled into the hotel for the night and woke up to join a morning service at Freedom’s Way Ministries. It was an honor to worship alongside not only their own congregation and talented musicians but also a gospel choir from another college also on their spring break tour. In a spirit of faith, thankfulness, and total dependence on God, we took time during the service to lift up Pastor Calvin and cry out to God for his need for physical healing, confident that He hears us in His goodness. As individuals, a choir, and the universal body of Christ, we are a living sacrifice of the service of worship, and we would do well to follow Pastor Cal’s example of surrendering to God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). The people at Freedom’s Way welcomed us and fed us a wonderful meal before we headed back to Warner Temple.

The afternoon concert began with Warner Temple’s own gospel choir, whose black and red color scheme coordinated with ours (unplanned by humans but known in advance by God :). Their choir and ours ministered to each other arrangements of Psalm 23, different but both powerful. We ended after two hours of musical worship with an integration of the two choirs proclaiming that “every praise is to our God.” After another wonderful meal provided by the church, we left for the hotel to begin twenty-four hours of free rest time, which we planned to spend in fellowship with one another, exploring the beach, visiting historic sites and memorials in Wilmington, and resting to start up rehearsing and singing again. — Nina

GC Tour 2015 Kickoff!

It’s been a crazy few days, but GC Tour 2015 has officially begun! Connor Brown and Nina Camillone will be giving all of our followers a daily update (or as daily as possible, since a stable Internet connection is getting pretty hard to come by) of our tour through North Carolina while we build friendships, minister to people, and worship the Lord.

DAY 1 (Saturday): Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord!

So far we’ve kicked things off to a good start, beginning our trip at Raleigh-Durham International airport after a great flight out of Midway in Chicago. We stepped outside to be greeted by none other than the cool Carolina air, quite the far-cry from the still-wintry weather that’s hanging over the midwest. From the air it was even more obvious what was waiting for us on the east coast. For a good 45 min of our 1hr 15min flight the ground below us was all white—miles and miles of snow, ice, & tundra that stretched across the gridded Midwestern prairies. But here, the forecast for the whole week is looking like a pretty comfortable 70ยบ.

Somewhere over the U.S.A.
Bill, our awesome bus driver, was waiting outside the airport to take us over to Wilmington, an historic city by the coast. When our bus ride ended, we received yet another change in scenery—palm trees! Being from the south myself, I was even more excited to hear that we’d be dining at a local seafood eatery that night. That excitement slowly drifted into skepticism when Ms. Tanya told me the name of the place: “Something Fishy”. But I was impressed regardless, and feeling particularly deprived of my favorite Southern beverage, downed about 4 glasses of sweet tea. From tea to time with friends, I can already tell that God is going to work in big ways over the next week—something that I feel blessed to be a part of. — Connor

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Wheaton College Gospel Choir

2015 TOUR ITINERARY – Raleigh/Charlotte, North Carolina

1Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation a people 

belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of 

darkness into His marvelous light!

45 Servants of God ~ 10 full days of Music & Service


Saturday March 7th -


8:30pm -    Warner Temple AME Zion Church                        

                   620 Nixon Street Wilmington, NC 28401                                                                            

Sunday March 8th -

Morning Worship Service:

11:00am  -  Freedom’s Way International, Inc  

                  1952 Dawson St. Wilmington, NC 28401                                                                  

3:00pm-     Warner Temple AME Zion Church – Full Concert        

                   620 Nixon Street Wilmington, NC 28401                                                                            

Monday March 9th  -                                                                                                

10-3pm  -   Sight See in Wilmington      

6:30pm  -   Victory Mountain Camp - Mr. Dennis LaRue, Director

Tuesday March 10th -

Full Concert:    
11 am  -     N. Raleigh Christian Academy                                                                    

                   7300 Perry Creek Rd. Raleigh, NC   27616                                                                    

3:00 pm -    Campground Ministry   (*CM - 3-6pm)

Wednesday March 11th  -

Full Concert:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
2:00pm  -   Redeemer School                        
                  1046 Miller St Winston- Salem 27103                                                                                                                                      

7:00pm  -  Catch The Fire Raleigh - Youth Ministry

                  9225 Leesville Rd.  Raleigh, NC   27613                                                                

                  Youth Group Fellowship & Time of worship            

Thursday March 12th -

Full Concert:

9:00am -    Wesleyan Christian Academy    
                   1917 N. Centennial St. High Point, NC   27262

6:45pm  -   New Life Fellowship Center  

                   1337 Samuel St. Charlotte, NC 28206                                                                      

Friday March 13th

Full Concert:  

12 noon -   Victory Christian Center School (*CM - 8-10am)                                              

                   7224 Old Pineville Rd.  Charlotte, NC 28217                                                                    

2:30pm -    Billy Graham Library – Sing & Tour                                                                                  

                   4330 Westmont Dr. Charlotte 28217                                                                            
8:00pm -    Southern Korean Presbyterian - Full Concert                                                                                                                                      

                  3618 McKee Rd Charlotte, NC 28270                                                                          

Saturday March 14th -                                                                                                             

Free Time & Sight Seeing        

Sunday March 15th -

Morning Worship Service:

9:30am -    Love and Faith Christian Fellowship - Greensboro

                  4344 Blackberry Road    Greensboro, NC 27406                                                              

3:00pm  -   Church of the Apostles - Concert              

                  333 Church at North Hills Street  Raleigh, NC   27609

Monday March 16th  -

12noon  -  Visit Duke University  
3:00pm  -  Travel to airport

5:00pm  -  Travel back to campus                                  

For the privilege of representing The King…

To GOD be the Glory! Great things He 

has done!