We have been in Tenali for about three weeks now and have been a part of the English service at Emmanuel Prayer Tower for three Sundays now. This past Sunday was a great evening.
The youth of the church have begun playing volleyball in the church compound during the afternoons so there are quite a few people still lingering around the church building when we arrive. It is really fun having this opportunity to interact with regular Emmanuel Prayer Tower church members, practice a little bit of Telugu (and laugh at our own pronunciation a lot), and spend time with the worship team that has developed for the English service, especially the girls as they spend time inside the church during volleyball. The Indian worship team members are amazing! One young man has naturally taken a leadership role by choosing the songs to sing, setting up the microphone stands and working with another young man for microphone sound check...not to mention rounding up all the team members for team sound check, which can be a bit challenging.
A few new exciting things have happened for the service. First, we have asked that the youth worship team greet the people at beginning of service and to pray before and after the worship set. That is a big step because it can be intimidating speaking in English to such a crowd. Moses gave greetings at the beginning of service and Mounika prayed for our time together. I was really proud of their courage and how they stepped out of their comfort zone for God in those moments. It is just one more way we are trying to encourage and empower the youth leaders of the service. Secondly, there are a few local pastors who attend this English service and and the youth worship team wanted a way to incorporate them more into the Sunday gathering. One opportunity they came up with is for one of the pastors to pray the blessing for the church at the conclusion of service each week. This happened on Sunday night and those few minutes were really powerful. I would love to hear the local pastors preach one Sunday. I know it would bless me immensely, as well as the church congregation.
Lastly, this past Sunday we introduced a new song to the worship set. During offering time, we sang "Freedom Reigns." Cory played guitar and I sang by myself for the first time. I had been listening to this song sung by Jesus Culture on my iPhone for a few weeks and felt really strongly that we should teach it and sing it on Sundays. I was nervous to sing alone, since I don't take great confidence in my voice, but I have to say since moving to India and being asked to lead worship, God has gifted me with a much improved singing voice. To that I am grateful and happy to be used. As I sang, it made me so happy to sing this song to the Lord. After the second verse I felt shivers in my entire body and felt my voice becoming more powerful and at the chorus I began singing like I have never sung before. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and the freedom in the Lord that I was singing about...the freedom to let go of everything and find joy in worshiping Him alone. It was SO COOL. After service a young man approached me in a pretty shy way. He told me that the song blessed him so much and touched his heart. He said that he had never before experienced God the way he did during the offering song and thanked me for singing. I was so touched and gave the glory to God because I knew I sang the way I did because of Him, for Him. The young man's encounter with God was such an amazing ending to a really great night.
So, praise the Lord! More of You, God!