This weekend I went with our youth choir from Germantown Baptist to Nashville for the weekend. The name of our choir is Under Authority which is taken from the scripture Matthew 8:9 “For I am also a man Under Authority…” We have been in existence under the leadership of our Worship Pastor, Ron Norton for I believe, seven years. (Ron, is that right? I guess so, Trey was in 6th grade!).
Our kids have been to churches in New Orleans (several times), North Dakota, Tennessee, and states all across the U.S. that I don’t even remember. During these trips, they have sung in nursing homes, painted houses, cleaned out warehouses, mowed lawns, fixed roofs, painted each other, torn down sheds, had block parties to promote local church events, hung door flyers for local churches, helped with VBS, you name it, they have done it. Most of the time it has been in blazing heat (with the exception of North Dakota, trust me, I was there).
One special impromptu worship experience was in 2012 when they sang in Jackson Square in New Orleans. Trey was ill at the time and we were not there, but Collin was with them. I remember the group coming back and telling me how people came up and joined them in singing. They were so blessed by that moment. It was a moment they will take with them the rest of their lives.
This weekend was just a short trip, but I think our kids put in work in one day that was worth many days at the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home. They cleared a brush area that I feel was the size of a football field. There was poison ivy, ticks, thorn bushes, (no wildlife), and our kids just jumped in and begged for chainsaws. (Uh, no.) They worked till they had splinters in their hands.
Saturday night we spent the evening at Opry Mills Mall and let the kids play at Dave and Busters (a video game place) with a meal provided, the adults could shop, or just chill and watch the ballgames. Either way, it was a reward for all for a hard day’s work.
Sunday morning was an early wake up call to be at the church in Murfreesboro to sing in two services. Even though our group was small in number, we were mighty in sound. Many of our kids could not go because of school and job commitments. During the service I looked on the back row. There stood Collin, 5′ 8″ tall. You know there are kids that just stand and barely move their mouths because they just haven’t picked up the “joy” of singing in UA. That was Collin years ago. As we sang Your Great Name, and tears rolled down my face, I saw Collin singing, really singing. But I don’t give myself credit. I give someone else credit who doesn’t like to TAKE credit…
Ron Norton. What a Godly example for our children. I have been under his leadership for many years in Adult choir and Under Authority and he gives us the freedom to express our worship and has taught many kids that have come and gone how to serve, sing, and worship. He’ll not be happy that I’m talking about him (because he is very humble), but the teaching has to come back to someone. If it were not for Ron, Trey would not have learned how to worship. Ron walked with us every step of Trey’s journey. And now, I see the light, every so slightly, beaming in Collin and I am so blessed. There are so many hours that he lets them be goofy and he puts up with it and shakes his head, but then he’s goofy right along with him. He has earned their trust, their respect, but most of all, there love. And he TELLS them – “You know what? I love you guys!” I can’t imagine any parent NOT wanting their child to be a part of this ministry.
The adults were reminiscing on the way home of the different trips we had been on, including our own choir tours. Most of us, (Cindy Few and I), grew up in churches that we went from coast to coast every summer on choir tours. I am so glad our kids are seeing a glimpse of the history that made us who we are as adults in choir. The worship leaders like Jim Whitmire and Phil Martin that made us sit on the edge of our seats, taught us scales, and different ways to read music, but also put us together with different age groups so that we would get to know each other and bond. Oh, I’m sure you’ll hear stories of how someone put Pringle in the overhead bin of the bus (he crawled in there), or about Jason Herrington (ADULT) being pulled on across a gym floor with a helmet on while riding a roller/dollie thing, or how Collin flicked Stacia in the face with paint. Yes, it was all hard work, but look at the blessings. We have produced children that love music, service, and most of all, they actually like being together.
To me, that’s the definition of a mission trip. We covered it all. We met new people and showed them the love of Christ by serving them. We were respectful in a hotel and spoke words of love by saying “thank you” to the staff (and were commended for it). And we sang of His love. His Great Name. Well done Under Authority.