These past two months have been full of life-change. It feels as though there has not been a single day that God has not pointed his mighty hand somewhere in my life and has either dealt out revelation or his supernatural healing. My heart is full of joy and thankfulness.
I’m sure that most of you have heard about my acceptance into the United Pursuit School of Worship. That has been done and passed already, but it was another life-changing experience. It was only a five day school in Orange County, California. Basically, the goal of the School of Worship is to foster community and creativity. We were put into community with other young adults who have a heart for worship, and we also were given the chance to live in community with such worship influencers as Michael Ketterer, Brandon Hampton, Tony Brown, Will Reagan and some others from the United Pursuit group. It was simply an honor to have not only been able to meet these people, but also to worship and socialize with them.
Nothing has changed about my current position. I am still the Messaging Manager at Extreme Nazarene Missions, and that is not going to change anytime soon. One of the main goals of the UP School of Worship is to send out the students back to where they are from so they can take the fire of worship with them. This is a huge part of the story that I am about to tell you.
Almost two months ago, my friend, Vicke, sent me a link to the UP School of Worship. At first glance, I thought there was no way I would want to go. I didn’t have any money to pay for the school or the travel expenses. I instantly wrote it off as a nice gesture by my friend, but I told her I wasn’t interested. Apparently, what I didn’t know at the time, Vicke was hearing from the Lord that I was supposed to go. So, a few weeks later, she sends me the link again. Again, I thought, Vicke, you crazy loon. I have not the money to go. Plus, my heart wasn’t really into it. Surely, if I was supposed to do that UP School of Worship, I should have a passion for worship. So, I ignored Vicke’s invitations.
A few weeks after that, my friend, Logan, texts me and tells me that he auditioned for the UP School of Worship and that he got in. Suddenly, my mind shifted and I thought, I should just try to audition. I was curious to see what would happen. I spent that day recording my audition tape and sent it in.
When I didn’t hear back from them for over five days, I thought for sure I wasn’t accepted. In fact, when I received the email that I had gotten in, I opened it expecting it to say something nice like, “Thank you for trying… but, no thank you.” Instead, I read, “We would like to invite you to the United Pursuit School of Worship in Orange County, California.”
My first reaction wasn’t excitement. I was kind of upset. I realized that now I would have to raise $850 plus my traveling expenses. At the same time, I’ve been raising funds for my work at Extreme Nazarene. So, I immediately hit “reply” and wrote that I would have to retract my application, and say nicely, “thank you… but, no thank you.” But, for some reason, I just saved the draft and didn’t send the letter.
Between the time of being accepted and boarding the plane to go to California, God aligned my heart with his and showed me how much he loves me. He provided for all of my funding needs without my having to reach out and ask. He pushed me into this place of total surrender and trust. I found out later that the UP School of Worship leaders all spent time in prayer and considered greatly who they were accepting into the school. They only let in 200 applications, had 30 spots available, and through prayer decided to only fill 25 of those seats. I am just humbled and in awe of how God works. He had a plan, and I was not about to escape it.
The first two days of the school were interesting. And honestly, I was wondering if I had made a mistake. Since the acceptance of my application, I had been experiencing a growth in love for worship. Then, people began to come up to me and share words with me that they felt I have a part to play in worship. My borders were growing in the area of worship ministry. I thought the school was going to be more technical and instructional. The first day focused on our identity in Christ and some encouraging ministry, and then the day after we met more of the band members from United Pursuit (Will, Nate and Andrea). By the end of the second day I was thinking I had just wasted my time and my money.
The third day is when everything seemed to change. In OC, there is a group called Gospel House that meets on every Friday and Saturday evening. It is lead by several leaders in the area including Michael Ketterer, Charlie Grooms (a fellow Ohioan), and a few other guys. We got to go on Friday evening and participate in the community and worship together. They meet on Friday nights at one of the leaders’ homes. When we got there, there were about 150 people there! First, we all ate, and then we all poured into the livingroom of the house to worship. Shoulders brushing shoulders, and trying hard not to step on other people’s toes, we all lifted our hands and voices and worshiped our Lord in one spirit. It was absolutely amazing. The Holy Spirit made his presence known, people were touched and healed and we all encountered his presence.
Something that I have been learning a lot about over this past year is the ministry of healing. I have been learning how God feels about healing, and how we can cooperate with his Spirit in healing. All it comes down to is that God loves us so much, and he desires to heal our illnesses. The night of Gospel House on Friday, the Lord spoke to me in a way that he has spoken to me before. There are times when God will give me a pain in my body that is not my own, rather it is a pain for someone else around me. Through the pain, the Lord helps me to understand that he is asking me to pray for someone near me that has this pain. So, while we were praising the Lord in close quarters, my jaw began to hurt. I have never had jaw pain before in my life, so I knew it was not my pain. I tried to ignore it, but it persisted. Finally, I turn to the girl next to me and ask her if she has jaw pain. She said “no”. For a moment, I thought, See God? I told you it was nothing! But no sooner had I had the thought that a girl behind me reaches out and says, “It’s me! It’s me! It’s my jaw that hurts!!!” Stunned and excited I listen as she tells me that she had been having jaw pain these past few days and during worship she asked the Lord that he would send someone to pray for her. I prayed over her for a total of six times with no change in the pain of her jaw, but I reassured her that God heard her and that alone means so much. I mean, he sent someone to pray for her too! There’s no way I could’ve known about her jaw pain. Why wasn’t she healed? I don’t know, and I am not about to offer a reason based off of my human understanding. I am still a student.
There were several other things that happened through the night that rocked my world. We were informed later in the evening that the police had been called on us for noise. When he arrived two girls from the Gospel House approached him and began to talk with him. They found out he had a bad knee and a bad back, so they prayed for him and his pain vanished! And then he really didn’t know what to do then, so he left!
The next day, I woke up early and took my place on a chair on the back patio that I had claimed as my morning spot. I read the little book I was reading and then sat to listen to the Lord. I thought about the night before, and I realized this was the reason why I was in Orange County. Gospel House is not a church, rather it’s a community where people get together to worship the Lord and pursue intimacy with him through pouring love out to him in music. It is a place where believers come together in unity to praise the Lord as one body!
Suddenly, a call was reawakened. Before I moved to Boise, I felt the Lord call me to plant a home church. Since moving to Boise, that has not happened, and to be honest, I felt that it was a total loss. I have been ready to put it to rest and succumb to the idea that I had heard God wrong. But, as I sat on that lawn furniture on that Saturday morning, God showed me how the ministry in Orange County is what he wants to move to the Boise area. As I’m thinking about this now, my heart rejoices in the fact that there is no word that God sends out that comes back to him empty! Ever since going to Azusa Now in April, my heart has been crying out to God to bring unity to the church in Boise. Amongst all of the denominations, I long to see brothers and sisters coming together in one mind and one spirit to worship the Lord. I really believe that God will move greatly in this valley when his church is operating as one body!
The rest of the week was amazing and beautiful. My purpose for being in the school was clear and established. I felt that I was finally able to focus on learning from the community around me instead of constantly searching for the reason I was there.
One of the other highlights from my time at the school was being able to present with my worship-writing team the song we created over the five days. On Sunday night, at Michael Ketterer’s house for Gospel House, all of the seven teams presented their brand new, never before heard, worship songs. All of them were amazing! Seriously, I would be prone to think that there would have been one dud in the group of songs, but every single one was so spirit-filled and spoke to everyone’s heart.
I was a little nervous going up, but the moment we took our spots before the crowd, I knew I was in the Lord’s presence. We simply worshiped! It didn’t even really feel like singing or playing music… we just worshiped the King! And what was so honoring was that everyone else did too! People were responding so deeply to the message of our song… people were weeping and crying out to God! The best way that I could describe how I felt was honored. Never have I felt so much honor before in my life, to be able to serve people in such a way as creating and singing music to usher them into the throne room.
One afternoon, I got to sit down and share my vision for Boise with Michael Ketterer, one of the leaders and band members of United Pursuit. He was super excited and shared that the unity I long for is exactly what they hope to see come of this school. They long to see people go back to where they come from to start similar communities.
It’s been about two weeks since the school ended (since writing this entry). I haven’t really written much about how awesome the family is that we have built, but that was another hugely amazing piece of the UP School of Worship. Everyone was 100% bought-in, and 100% geared for community. It was beautiful. I see it amongst the group of people that I hang out with in Boise, and I believe it can go into greater depths still!
I thank the Lord for the amazing way that he is writing my story. I am simply beside myself. The UP School of Worship was something I was not interested in, not even in the slightest. But, the Lord knew my heart better than I. He has once again changed my life even more, and has given me more reasons to praise him. His plans are so perfect!!! He knew, even before I left Ohio, that I was going to go to the UP School of Worship. This has been his plan for me all along! I have never stepped outside of his purposes. WOW!
The way I am being led to start this is to begin with worship between just myself and I. My friend, Vicke, told me one day she felt that Lord was calling me to step out in faith to start these worship nights, even if it meant being one worshiper. The thought resonated deeply in my heart. It was confirmed when on the very next day I pick up a book I hadn’t started reading yet, and the very first page talks about David worshiping alone in the fields with his flocks, and that being evidence of David’s heart for God.
Maybe starting these nights of worship will start slow. I do not care. What I long for more than getting people together is to praise the Lord in creativity and song. Getting people together to worship will be easy. Creating the culture of that community, however, is the greater challenge. And for now, it will start with just one worshiper.