‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
Right now I’m writing during a rare moment to reflect, sitting outside in the beautiful “hill country” of Sri Lanka.
We’ve just finished the first worship training conference, perhaps ever, in this region. The testimonies from the participants of what the Lord did here was amazing.
Before coming here, I knew very little about this country, formerly the British colony of Ceylon. It’s an Asian island nation at the tip of India and one of the largest tea exporters in the world.
I had never heard of the “tea plantation” system before this week. Today we visited a “tea estate” next door.
I think I’m beginning to get it.
This is a rural agricultural economy. Generally speaking, many if not most of the people here are poor with little opportunity, limited education and low English literacy.
These the are poor and disadvantaged. They are literally the least of these.
The churches we’re serving are ministering the gospel among some of the lowest members of this society, the tea estate workers.
Generation after generation of Tamil laborers have lived in near-poverty working on tea plantations, some for as long as 200 years. Some conditions have improved but, not a great deal.
Today I watched a scene that’s been playing out for many years on these hills. Women working on acres of steep tea fields doing what their grandmothers and their mothers grew up doing. Plucking tea leaves by hand, earning $7.00 for a 20 kilo bag, the required minimum. They can earn double that if they pick more, so there is an incentive is to work long and hard.
This is truly an under-resourced area of the world. Most are poor. Racial prejudice and social stratification are engrained in the culture. Christians are a tiny minority and persecution is a very real and on-going concern.
This is a part of the world where the gospel offers real hope.
You can see that Christians here really love the Lord, and one another.
God is doing a great work here.
On this trip, we had the great privilege of not only seeing, but being allowed to contribute to the work of the kingdom in this land.
Our teaching team was led by Tom Johnson; with myself, Elliot Diaz and Anna Johnson teaching biblical and practical leadership principles of worship.
We saw God moving on hearts of participants as they embraced the call to worship as a lifestyle. Tom opened and closed the conference with powerful, prophetic and challenging messages. We saw the Spirit open up a new level of corporate worship and raise up a new generation of Sri Lankan worship leaders.
The conference was translated into the two languages of Sri Lanka – Sinhalese and Tamil.
At our last morning session, I was looking at their smiling faces and greeted them with my best Saturday Night live impersonation of “you look marrrrvleous”.
They laughed. One of the few jokes of mine they actually got.
In our 8 teaching sessions, I taught 3 sessions on Practical Theology of Worship, a Guitar Workshop, a fourth session on Heart of David, and a practical teaching “How Do You Know If You’re Called To Lead Worship?” We concluded with a panel Q&A session.
Elliot Diaz taught on the role of the Holy Spirit in worship, character, the pastor /worship leader / worship team relationship and the presence of God in worship.
Anna Johnson taught on unity and servant leadership.
We had a powerful ministry time where we prayed impartation for the participants. Something broke and there was a deep work of repentance for disunity, then an extended response of intercession for the churches and pastors, their villages and nation.
The conference was very well attended by pastors in this area. Currently many of the preaching pastors are also the worship leader. Musicians are in short supply. There is a great need for trained and anointed worship musicians and leaders.
At the end of the event, Pastor Yoganathan, leader of a 90 church network sponsoring the event, shared a few words. He said they have done many conferences for pastors and different things, but the feedback from everyone was this was the best conference by far.
Then several people came to the front and gave testimony after testimony of how they had been inspired, encouraged and changed for life.
Dreaming out loud. We’ve been invited to return. If the Lord allows, I think it would be great to have a worship conference next year and add an intensive music instruction element. We would need quality worship musicians to come and volunteer as coaches to teach guitar, keyboards, drums, vocals and bass.
Let’s pray about it.
If you’re interested partnering with us, send me an e-mail (see my About page for contact info)
Overall, this was a humbling and incredible mission to experience and contribute to.
Thanks to everyone who supported our work through prayer and financial support.