Worship in the Afternoon and Forgiveness in the Morning

Our afternoon worship session (4-6 PM) was the best attended, besides prime time.  Felicity was in the zone, having really gotten in touch with her vocalization and riffing.  But of course, it’s not about the music as much as it is about the heart.  Her heart was clearly worshiping God, and that is what bumped her vocal style to the next level (perhaps even a few levels).

Bethany has shown a real talent for the flags.  She is able to make them dance in some really beautiful ways.  I love the flags, but I’m not at all good at it, and I’ve never waved them without the stick hitting something.  I figured that I should probably stop now before I put someone’s eye out.

After the session, I was feeling very tired, and wanted nothing more than to return to the hotel and sleep—yes, this was at six in the evening.  We have done late night, early morning, wee hours, and so forth, so that now I just need to go rest when my body says so, no matter what the hour.  So I went to the cloak room to put on my jacket.  The others were behind me and they were invited to share Communion with a couple of German men.  I saw Felicity go to her knees, and I knew that this could be a while, so I walked back to the hotel alone.

The following day, we were upstairs in the church’s coffee shop.  Felicity told me that she needed to talk with me.  So we went into the prayer room, which was empty for the first time (no babies, no nursing mothers, no small children).  There she told me about the German men inviting them to share Communion.  She said that she immediately realized that she needed to repent.  She confessed that she had been holding anger and unforgiveness in her heart because of Europe’s involvement with the African slave trade (Felicity is African-American).  She poured out her heart about how much she hates when people want to touch her hair or ask her what African country she comes from—she doesn’t know because her ancestors were kidnapped and taken to America as slaves.

We wept together for both her pain and for the loss of her heritage and culture.  Felicity knows that these are innocent things not intended to wound her, but she can’t deny the pain they cause her.  Before she took Communion, she knelt to forgive the Europeans, and to ask God to forgive her.

In the next teaching session, when we were invited to share our experiences at Tabernacles, Felicity asked me if she should share her pain and to ask forgiveness.  I told her that if that’s what she wants to do, she should do it.  So she did.  And several people told her that they forgive her.  But some people have since acted differently around her, avoiding her, particularly the German girls because it had involved their friends.

At the end of the teaching session, they called forward all the young people (those 30 and under), and we prayed for them.  I came and prayed specifically for Felicity.  The Holy Spirit urged me to also repent and ask her forgiveness for my ancestors’ part in the slave trade because my people, though not rich landowners, had some slaves nevertheless.  I had never felt personally responsible for the slave trade because it was all over and done with long before I was born, and I have always treated Felicity with the same kindness and respect that I treat all my friends.  But sins curse lasts to the 4th generation, and it was right for me to repent and confess the sin so that its curse could be completely broken.  Felicity forgave without hesitation, and we wept in each other’s arms.  It was a very cleansing moment for me.  Later she told me that nobody had ever asked forgiveness for the slave trade before.  It was very hard, but I am really glad that I did it.  It was the right thing to do.

Our last session was 6-8 AM.  I woke up half an hour before the alarm, and began to pray.  One person God led me to pray for particularly was Felicity.  Then God gave me a word for her: Isaiah 41:10:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous Right Hand.

And the Lord’s word to Felicity went something like this (I don’t remember it exactly):

I have felt every blow and every insult, whether intentional or not.  I know your pain, but I will take the pain away.  It is no accident that you are here.  You are here for your healing.  Receive your healing.  You are My beloved daughter.  You are loved.  You have value.

This prophecy came to me in the form of a song, and the Lord told me to sing this to Felicity—on the platform in the church.  I realized that this could be a very emotional moment for her, and I felt like it would be best if she knew that it was coming, rather than surprising her.  So we walked together to church while the others were still gathering themselves.  I told her about the word, without telling her what it is, and asked her when she wanted it: early in the session (when there are likely to be fewer people) or later in the session (when she won’t have to struggle with emotions and tears while trying to sing).  She told me she wanted it early, and asked me why I had to sing it.  I told her about how God had healed me to sing (see Dancing in My Dreams).  She said, “Oh, I get it!  Killing two birds with one song!”  Yeah, that’s exactly it!

So, the sanctuary wasn’t completely empty, but we warned the others about what was going to happen, and we proceeded.  Being first thing in the morning, and early morning at that, my voice was terrible.  But I sang anyway.  Felicity cried, but not a whole lot, and was able to go on with worship without any problems.  It was a nice worship session, nothing spectacular, but full of the right heart for God.  God is good!

Singing in My Dreams

Kudos to Mom for the title!

Greetings from Kalisz, Poland!  I am here for Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, hosted by this really amazing, generous, wonderful church with an unpronounceable Polish name (well, I can’t pronounce it!).  The whole week for twenty-four hours a day over seven days they have continuous worship, dance, praise, prayer, and singing by sixteen different groups from twelve European countries, in their various languages.  Each group performs for two hours in various time periods throughout the day and night.  Twice a day there are also teaching sessions followed by people sharing what the Lord has done or shown them during this time.  It is amazing!  And the church people make these wonderful Polish dishes for lunch and dinner—and it’s all free!  They never ask for a penny from the participants!  I had such a great time, and such intimacy with God during last year’s Feast of Tabernacles that my birthday gift to myself was a return to Kalisz this year.  My birthday is tomorrow, but God gave me an early gift.

I try to go to all the English language worship periods, and the two English language groups had early morning times yesterday (two to four AM) and today (four to six AM).  After their sessions, I returned to the hotel to rest until breakfast.  Sleep was not possible because I have one of those early morning brains that won’t stop talking if it is awake any time after three in the morning, but rest was essential, especially today.

I need to give you some background: I was in a verbally abusive marriage for thirty-three years.  My husband had told me not to sing “Happy Birthday” because he hated the sound of my voice.  In fact, I was so deeply ashamed of my voice that I used to only lip-synch the words at church for fear that God would be displeased with the sound of my voice.  After the divorce, I began to use my voice in church again, and it was incredibly liberating.

So this morning when I returned to the church a German group was singing, and it was wonderful.  The Russian group was supposed to come next, but they were late.  The girl at the keyboards started to play one of my favorites—“The Revelation Song” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofNBuMdrbcg&feature=related).  I was singing along with everything inside me.  Then she said, “If you know the words, please come up to the stage.”  I looked around, but there was hardly anybody there, and she had been looking right at me.  She motioned for me to come up.  I did, feeling a bit fearful, but when we started to sing, I got completely lost in my love for Jesus.  If you don’t know the song, follow that link, it’s a wonderful song.  Then she continued playing, probably to fill the time while somebody located the Russian team.  And she started to riff (singing whatever came to her heart about Jesus), so I began to riff, too.  We were not following any particular melody, she was just tinkling on the keyboard, and we sang.  I think we went along like that for about 10 minutes, then the Russian team showed up.  When I saw them, and the sound engineer unhooked my microphone, I stepped off the stage.  But the violin player coaxed me back onto the stage.  So I just stood there worshiping Jesus silently.

Afterward, both keyboard and violin players congratulated me, saying, “You’re so brave!  Thank you so much for helping out!”  But they didn’t know about my singing issues until I shared my story a few minutes later in the morning teaching time.

When I was here last year, as the sole representative of Italy, the pastors of the church asked me if I could lead worship in Italian.  I had to say no, but I did ask some of the worship leaders I know in Italy to come.  Nobody was interested at all.  A few days ago I was singing along with a familiar song, but in Italian.  Then the thought came into my head: could I possibly lead a two hour worship session in Italian?  Immediately I dismissed the thought.  But after this morning, I’m wondering.  We’ll see!  Meanwhile, please pray that God will provide a genuine Italian worship group so that I won’t have to do that all by myself.