Wednesday, 28 December 2011

His Master's Voice

In the end we called it 'The Mall Tour' and what an amazing and humbling experience it was. We had the honour and privilege to sing to hundreds of people in three different locations during the run up to Christmas. A previous blog has already mentioned our first experience, which was at Bluewater. Following this, we spent a Saturday afternoon singing in the Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells. We witnessed the 'miracle' of 'no power' from the designated power point, with the result that we had to transfer all the gear to another location higher up the mall, which gave us the opportunity to broadcast the sound of the choir and the readings to a much greater area. One of the conditions of our singing was to raise money for two local charities. Whilst we felt that our primary calling was to spread the Christmas story in words and music, we were very happy to also seek to raise money for Hospice in the Weald and for the Bridge Trust, a charity dedicated to helping the homeless. Our programme consisted of four 30 minute slots; during that time people generously gave us over £350 towards the two charities.

Then, the following Saturday found us at Beales Department store, strategically situated near the entrance to Sainsbury's, so we were really performing to two stores! This time we were working with the Rotary Club of Tonbridge, who were raising money for 6 local charities. Again, we were so encouraged by people's response to the singing and the readings. Now, at this last presentation, Bluewater seemed such a long time ago; the weeks had passed so quickly. The experience showed us what a deep spiritual hunger there is and that people do respond to the Gospel. At all three venues we had the opportunity to distribute material to adults and children. Steve, our artist in residence, had a number of opportunities to talk with people about his picture which strikingly adorned our two 6 foot high Absolute Gospel Company banners which stood erect on either side of the choir.

As we have written before, it was highly significant that we should find ourselves at the beginning of the tour outside 'His Master's Voice'. That's what, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we have tried to do: speak with the Master's Voice. We pray that it has brought Him glory and in so doing, opened up hearts to spiritual values and invitations. We look forward to the New Year and what we believe are God-given opportunities to speak out the Words of the Master. As someone challengingly said: "Wise men and women still seek Him".

Friday, 2 December 2011

Pizza With Pizzas of Music

The smell was incredibly intimidating, wafting up from below and not just from one place. At times a curious cocktail of aromas surrounded us. Not only that, but the pressure to spend money was all around as enticing wares stared out from lavish displays of merchandise. And we also had what was at times a conveyor belt of people drifting through; old, young, babies - but thankfully no dogs. And we were warm! No rain! This was our first engagement of the Christmas period, in the Bluewater Shopping Mall in north Kent: The Absolute Gospel Choir singing a selection of songs from our musical Stargifts. We also had the wonderful opportunity to read from the Scriptures selections about the Christmas story.

People stopped. Listened. Some turned back to get closer to the sound. Some even wept. It was a wonderful experience for us. The Management team were so hospitable and helpful. Of all the places in the complex, we were next to one of the largest shops: His Master's Voice! God's got a great sense of humour! We were so impressed by the reaction of the people. Many of course walked past, but many others stopped for a considerable while. Thanks to the powerful P.A. system we had the sound travelling through the galleries, bouncing off the high ceiling and reaching much further than we realized.

It seems that the Choir is building up an interesting CV: Singing over the Dead Sea; over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives; on the Sea of Galilee; performing in the central park in Salem, the 'witch capital of the world'; performing to a messianic congregation in New Jersey and so on. We have been immensely privileged to sing at these and other places abroad, but we have also been blessed as we have sung at various venues around this country: in Derbyshire; Essex and Sussex; as well as Kent. In the New Year we shall move into deepest Bedfordshire.

God continues to give us the enthusiasm to preach the Gospel through music and the public reading of His Word. Later this month we sing at another shopping mall in Tunbridge Wells and then we come back to our home town to sing in a large departmental store. Our position puts us right next to the checkouts in Sainsbury's!

The New Year brings further opportunities for the Company's Choir and also its other activities. So we preach while we have the light. In rain, sunshine, wind, small audiences, large audiences. We were told in Bethlehem, where we had the privilege to sing in a small Palestinian Christian church, that we were no longer a 'raggle taggle army' but we were like Jehoshaphat's singers. Bet they didn't have the smell of pizza as they went into battle!