Notice the question mark in the title. That is where I began.
I grew up in a church with a vibrant music ministry. I was gladdened and eager to participate in weekly worship services. I was excited when my church started a training program for emerging artists in our congregation and community. Beyond wonderful weekly worship experiences, we were also using the arts to help people increase their musical and creative skills…training the next generation of leaders. That is an exciting place to be, and I found my personal involvement to be fulfilling.
Our church also had an active Missions ministry. We had programs supporting inner-city and underprivileged groups. We had several trips each year where students could lead Vacation Bible School, adults could go on construction projects, and those in the medical community could provide services to poor and desperate communities both locally and around the world. We had programs set up where we could sponsor children in orphanages and provide educational assistance to those who really needed and appreciated it. I was blessed to be a part of a church that had a real focus on reaching our communities and world for Christ.
Even though I was a musician, I never really felt “left out” since there was so much need and there were so many ways to get involved. But one day, God called (metaphorically and literally). Through a series of events too long to recount here, I received a call from Camp Kirkland (He has a deep authoritative voice, kind of like what I think God could sound like). He told me about an urgent need for an upcoming music mission trip. Music…Missions…Really? Can real mission work be accomplished when a group of musicians get together in a foreign country to play and sing? I mean, that would be FUN, not ministry, right? I told my wife “God (Camp) called and said we were supposed to go on a missions trip with Camp.” She laughed and said, “Well, if God said do it, we better do it.” We signed up that day.
That was the first interaction I had with an organization called Global Missions Project. Music builds bridges in a way that nothing else can. It impacts our bodies, moves our souls, and lifts our spirits. And because of its impact, music transcends cultural boundaries easily. I learned that Global Missions Project (or GMP as insiders call it) understands this, and works with local missionaries/church leaders to create strategies where GMP teams can help by becoming “relationship bridges” on behalf of those serving in mission fields around the world. Many of these relationships are strategically built and cultivated with local influencers like educational, governmental, and business leaders through music and the arts. I have personally seen how these relationships end up opening more doors for evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and encouragement of believers everywhere. And for me the beautiful thing is, we are not the focus; the missionaries, local church leaders, and their work are!
It takes a LOT of work to host short-term mission trips. Many cannot do it, and others may have questions about any lasting impact. GMP ministry partners are different. They see the benefit in cross-cultural bridge building through music and the arts. GMP constantly receives requests for additional projects and for repeat visits from these local leaders. And beyond trips, many other types of project requests are now being received. There are requests for things like musical instruments and tools, scholarships for children to attend music camps, and assisting churches with technology...all with the purpose of introducing people to Jesus! We believe these kinds of requests would not exist if our ministry partners did not see long-term value in short-term projects.
Beyond the blessings and encouragement our ministry partners experience, significant impacts are also felt in the hearts and lives of musicians who go and discover a new love for peoples of the world. Many of our GMP participants, including me and my family, now have global, long-term relationships with people met on a trip. Many provide personal financial support for ministries and local programs they learn about on GMP trips. And several have even adopted children into their families as a direct result of being on a GMP trip. These are life-changing experiences! This is God’s heart at work.
I am a musician. That is how I am wired, and that also makes me a steward of a great gift. I have heard it said, and now have observed first-hand, that music indeed is an international language. GMP uses that language expertly to build bridges all over the world for Jesus’ sake. I am grateful to exercise a part of my stewardship through Global Missions Project.
For me, the question mark has now changed.