A warm summer’s breeze was flowing through the evening air. The days
were too hot to spend in the sun, so the long conversations mostly took place in
the evenings as people sat around campfires, walked through the city, or watched
the waves crash against the shore. I sat with my three friends talking about the
wonders of life and our purpose, gifts, and goals. As we went around the circle, I
shared my passion for music and how I was blessed to express this through my
membership in our college touring choir; this gave me the opportunity to travel,
meet new people, and, best of all, share beautiful music. We also discussed what made a song a “good song”; they said they cared more about how a song sounded than what it said. Given their criteria, and that all my songs were in english, I offered to play a few of my choir songs. The songs shared were mostly sacred or spirituals. As I shared, I prayed, hoping the truth and love of Jesus, given to us through His sacrifice, would reach my friends. I will always remember this night, because the Lord was at work in ways I did not know, planting seeds He would soon water and grow… seeds… of revival…
As I returned to school in the fall of 2019, I wanted to tell everyone what I had experienced over the summer, hoping that they would encounter the presence of God as I had. I was able to do this in several different ways. Over the past year and a half, the Lord had been cultivating in me a deeper desire to engage in worship through singing. That fall, I was asked to coordinate the All Campu Worship (ACW) event for the whole campus. The Lord worked in great ways during this process, raising up leaders for spiritual revival. In fact, almost all of the people involved in the ACW event assisted in an additional 24-Hour Worship event which took place later that semester for the first time ever. These students used their musical gifts and abilities to lead their classmates in worship so that they, too, could experience the presence of Jesus. This was the start of a campus revival.
The ACW team spent a good bit of time rehearsing and planning the logistics of the event, but there were also times we found ourselves just worshipping, encouraged by each other’s heart for worship and our own hunger for the Lord. One evening in particular, four of us were in the chapel after a worship event and wanted to experience more of God. We gathered around the piano and started to worship when the Holy Spirit descended, as the harmonies flooded out of our very souls. After an hour of worship, we looked at each other and smiled, laughing with giddy excitement, and asking each other ,“WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?” The Spirit of God was moving, that is what happened! We returned night after night, inviting more and more people. We spent almost every night of our fall and spring semester in our school’s chapel worshiping from 11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. We showed up with a thirst for God and an expectation, and God met us every time. These nights of spontaneous worship became extremely impactful times, and God was working in everyone’s heart as we lifted His name in worship.
As the nights of worship continued, I remembered something I learned a year a half ago in Guatemala; the power of singing scripture. I had seldomly done it since my time in Guatemala, however I felt it could be something we should try. So, as Giovanna Johnson, another student, and I gathered one evening, the three of us opened the bible to Matthew 6 and began to sing through verses 25 – 34 where Jesus speaks about worry. While each verse was different, we kept singing the same chorus over and over again, “I will not worry, I will not worry, I trust in Your promises to me”. Even after we finished worshipping, we left the chapel, still singing the song the Lord placed on our hearts; we even spoke about if for days to come. I took the chorus to this song, and while praying over it, I wrote a few verses. Months later Giovanna finished the song by adding a few more verses and we were in awe at the work of the Lord. However, after the song was written, we continued to sing and remind each other of its truths, but nothing else came of it… right away. As we continued to seek the Lord every night, I experienced some of the most powerful times of worship I have ever been a part of, and God began to move in the lives of many students on campus.
In the midst of all the worship events and movements of the Spirit, I was still preoccupied with the everyday thoughts of a senior in college. “Where am I going to work next year?”, “Am I going to do something in Biology?”, “Oh yeah... financial debt is a thing”. I prayed about these decisions but only had one option on my plate so I sought after it with open hands, ready for whatever the Lord would bring my way. As I was pursing a 2 year overseas internship path, I was reminded of that conversation on the beach with my friends. Since I was planning to return to this location, I thought to myself, There is such power in music. Isn’t it amazing how a melody can move a person to tears when they don’t even understand the words… but isn’t it all the more powerful when they do?!? Well… what if there was an album of music which told the Gospel message from beginning to end? Each song could be sung from a different biblical perspective, and while they are mainly narratives, they could be used for mans different purposes. This thought stayed on my mind as I applied to this program and went through my final examinations of the fall semester.
A few days before I left school for Christmas break, I was rehearsing with a friend of mine for a Christmas Carol Concert. We took a break from practicing, and as I was getting a drink when he began to play a series of chords. The chords were beautiful, but he said he had no melody to accompany them. I asked him to play them again, while I attempted to adlib a few words. We continued this process, and two hours later, we had successfully written Pull Me a Little Closer. It was beautiful, and we sat in awe of it, even sharing it with several people on the spot to show them what had just happened. As we sang it more and more I told my friend, “It sounds like it is from someone’s perspective”, and my friend responded, “ I thought you were writing from Mary’s perspective?” The more I looked at it, it became evident to me how it did appear to be from her perspective. I shuffled a few words, opened to the book of Luke and used some scripture to make it clearer. This is when the idea came to me, I could start in the book of Luke and write more narrative stories to tell these stories through songs. Later that evening, my friend was simply strumming on the guitar and an entire chorus came into my head for a song from Joseph’s perspective. I raced to my room to write it down, before I forgot it. This was the first of many times I found myself racing to a computer, piano, or the Bible over the next several days.
I returned home for Christmas break; within the first five days I wrote 7 ½ more songs: Now and Forever and Always, In His Eyes, Coming Home, Here at the Well, It Is Finished, Beyond the Stars, At the End of the Road, Healer of Disease, and at the same time, Giovanna and I collaborated finished, I Will Not Worry. I would read
scripture and then a part of it would begin to weigh on my heart as the Holy Spirit illuminated it to me. I would quickly grab my computer and write down the lyrics I was singing in my head as I read. After each of these songs had all of the lyrics written down, I would then read what I had written, and immediately I would hear the
melodies in my head. Before I would forget the melodies, I ran to my piano downstairs to figure out the chords I was singing so I could write them down. This happened for every song, each of which was completed in approximately 30-40 minutes.
My sister was at home with me for break. She would lovingly sit and listen to each song as it was written and say, “This one is my new favorite”. The songs came so fast we were barely able to keep up with the process; we jammed out all week! After writing some of them. I would think, “I like this song”, but not until later did I love some of the songs. I believe this is because it took time for me to grasp the truths of each song, and every time I sang them, I would come to a deeper understanding of the messages (this still happens to this day!). I love how the Lord works. This is a testimony to His word as a living word, and the power of the Holy Spirit revealing truths to us in His perfect timing.
The following weekend I traveled to Philadelphia to see some friends and shared the songs with them to see what they thought. They said they could not wait to hear the album, and I half laughed…an album… hah! However, at the same time another friend told me she was excited to see how the Lord was going to use this music, but truthfully, I was just trying to write these songs down as fast as I could, I could not even imagine the next step, nor did I have any idea of how the Lord was going to use these songs. Another reason I did not think about the potential use for them was because of the other circumstances in my life. I would be traveling to Guatemala in a week to visit friends from my internship with Adonai International Ministries (AIM) two summers ago, and I had also been accepted into the 2-year internship program overseas. This was great news, however, I was confused by my feelings of indifference as I received the acceptance letter.
The next several days were a blur, but before long I was once again surrounded by the beautiful mountains in Canilla, Guatemala. As we drove into the valley late in the evening, the word home came to me; excitement flooded my heart. I could no longer wait to see my friends in just a few short minutes. The moments getting out of the car were precious as I was reunited with some of my best friends. As we ran into each other’s arms, I could not help but think of the great reunion we will have one day when we see Christ at the end of this life; if I am this
excited to see my friends while my love is far from perfect, then I cannot even fathom how Christ must feel about the reunion of His children in eternity…what He will think when He sees me…
My sister had given me the idea to write a song with the kids in Guatemala during the 2-week choir workshop I would be leading. The Lord gave me the idea to have them write about their prayers and who God was to them. We wrote a song together, and I loved seeing the joy of the Lord in them as they sang this song from their heart.
However, while I was in Guatemala, I was deeply struggling and wrestling with God because I wanted to be in Guatemala, but there was no place for me in the ministry and I had nothing to offer them vocationally. I was praying and asking the Lord to give me clarity in my situation as I spent my nights in the hospital’s prayer and worship room seeking His voice(This was the same room where I learned to worship, truly worship, two years earlier. God met me powerfully this time, as He did two years earlier.).
I was struggling because I had a decision to make, but didn’t know the answer. The overseas program to which I had been accepted asked for a decision within two weeks, and I only had one week left. The next day as I was walking to the prayer room, I stopped at the house of AIM's founders, to let them know I was going to the hospital to worship and extend an invitation to join. The husband told me his wife had a question for me. I turned to her, but she said, “I am not ready to ask you yet”. Ok, I thought, thinking little of it since I was already preoccupied with going to the worship room.
After that time of worship, I sat and thought to myself, I have one week to decide about the two-year program and then there is this ominous question in the air, yet I don’t know what it is. Well…why don’t I wait and see what this question is, before I decide on the other program. The next day, I asked Leslie about “the question”, because I didn’t want her to forget; she said, “I didn’t forget, but I am still not ready to ask.” Ok…. Later that day, someone asked me a rather basic question for Leslie. I felt my heart drop a little because after all this build up, I thought that was not what I thought she was going to ask me… so I asked this person, “ Is that the question Leslie was going to ask me?”, almost chuckling. The person responded, “Haha, no that is not it!”. At this point I just wanted to hear the question, but a part of me had an idea of what it was, and my new problem was the fact I had no idea how I was going to answer.
There are several families living and working for AIM, one of whom is Katie Shaw Ficker and her family. We made plans to catch up on Monday, four days before I would be leaving and four days before I had to decide about the two-year program. During our conversation, I realized this was the longest we had ever talked; when I was here two years ago, we did not work much together. Also, throughout this entire trip I had found it interesting that I was learning more about Katie’s story and many pieces were beginning to fit together in my mind. You see, I did not realize the point in time in which I came into Katie’s story when I met her two years ago, or AIM’s story when I showed up two summers earlier. Still, things were beginning to make more sense and I was beginning to see much clearer how the Lord was working during my first summer here and during this trip 2-years later.
I prayed for the Lord to give me someone to talk to; I was caught between wanting to be in Guatemala without a position while having a position elsewhere and not wanting to be there. I was also praying if I should confide in Katie about how I was wrestling with where the Lord would have me. Katie listened to everything I had to say and then encouraged me to remove the need from both situations, for need is everywhere, and focus on what the Lord was speaking to me.
Katie listened to everything I had to say and then asked me the question I had been waiting to hear. After hearing about the revival happening at my school and my heart for worship, Katie explained how the other families decided to pray and talk together since much of this also aligned with the prophecy the Lord had given them years earlier about revival in their valley. Katie then asked if I would consider coming to work in their ministry, assisting them in their prayer and worship room. She explained that they felt a stirring and the Lord moving in their ministry, but at the heart of it all, their prayer and worship room was in great need of people. I could not (still cannot) believe how there was nowhere for me to work within this ministry only a few days earlier, and then as I prayed about where the Lord would have me, the job He presented was the one place they were in greatest need of help and where I felt I could help the most.
Out of the Lord’s kindness, faithfulness, and love, He created the perfect job so I could serve in Guatemala. God is so good. One of the reasons for this stirring is due to the fact that in 2021 the hospital will finally be able to run at full capacity; the equipment and facility will be ready for use and needed staff will finally be coming. After hearing this, my heart was racing, and I could not help but feel overjoyed by “the question”. It was everything I could have hoped for, yet I was now more confused than ever. I wanted to say yes right away, but I was not sure if this was where the Lord wanted me to be, so I sought Him in prayer and wrestled even more than before. I asked the Lord to give me a sign, anything, so I would know what to do. The week continued on and the deadline for my other job was closing in, and I was still unsure.
I kept working on my music (I was writing Healer of Disease) and felt I should share one of my songs with Katie. I had learned some of Katie’s story a few years earlier, but not in the same way/to the degree that I did this time. I had a small inclination that one of my songs might mean something to her if I shared it. I learned some of Katie’s story a few years earlier, but not in the same way I did this time.
When I traveled to Guatemala the first time, I heard of the tragedy Katie went through. During this time, Katie was pregnant with twins, but due to complications, she lost both babies; for months afterwards, her body struggled to recover. In fact, these complications led to her being hospitalized and a great season of uncertainty where she did not know if the Lord was going to have her on earth or with Him in Heaven. One day, when Katie was in the hospital, a woman came in off the streets. Now this hospital had several security checkpoints which made it difficult for visitors, yet a woman came in, by God’s guiding hand, to her room and said, “The Lord gave me a word for you, Katie”. The woman then prophesied over Katie and Leslie, telling them how the Lord was going to bring down the fires from Heaven to burn up the snakes and witchcraft in their valley, and then bring thousands of Guatemalans to Him through great spiritual revival. At the end of her prophecy, the woman looked at Katie and said, “The Lord has seen your suffering, and it is finished”. The woman left, and Katie wrote down what she said. The doctor came in the next day and thought Katie died and he was given a new patient charts for when he looked at Katie’s charts, they were normal… Katie was miraculously healed. 48 hours later, Katie was able to walk out of the hospital and return home to her husband and three kids, holding on to this prophecy knowing that this revival will
come true, because God had already fulfilled the first half of His word in healing her.
On the last day of my trip to Guatemala, we had our choir concert, and the kids sang their original song. Afterwards I went up to Katie and asked her if I could airdrop to her the one song which had been weighing on my heart. Katie asked me if I could play the song for her on the spot rather than airdrop it to her. I agreed and we entered the prayer room not knowing how powerfully the Lord was about to move. I explained to her what the song was about and why I wanted to share it with her.
The song is a conversation between Mary, Jesus' mother, and another person during the waiting period between Jesus’ crucifixion and His resurrection. In the first verse this person is asking Mary how she has hope to go on, what she says to God when she prays/sings, and how she loves others given the grief she has experienced. The rest of the song is Mary explaining to them who Jesus is, His mission on earth, and the extension of His grace/love offered through His sacrifice. After praying over this song, I realized, minus the fact the first verse says “Jesus, my son” this song was Katie’s story. Even in the midst of such tremendous loss and suffering, Katie Shaw Ficker is one of the most joyful and Spirit filled people I know. Also, the night before I was finally able to read the prophecy for myself, the one spoken several years ago to Katie when she was on her deathbed. As I read the prophecy, I could not get over the one sentence. In the middle of the page, and the only words in all caps, were the words “IT IS FINISHED”. Two weeks before I arrived in Guatemala, I wrote this song to share with Katie about Mary and titled it “It Is Finished”. Thus, when I saw this, I knew I had to share it with her.
I sang the song for Katie and afterwards looked up to see her speechless and tears streaming down her face. When I saw her, I realized in this moment why God wanted me to share this song with her. Katie then explained more of her story to me and said she felt the last five years of her life were written into this seven-minute song. We
spent the next several hours talking about the music and sharing more about what God was doing. I will never forget these moments of worship as they were undeniably saturated with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. I was in awe hearing Katie sing
It is Finished and watching the Holy spirit move through her, the song, the scripture of the song, and her story. Then the image of hundreds of people worshiping the lord through this music came to me, and several thoughts came to my mind. What if we translated these songs, what if we sang them every day when the hospital was open so that people could hear the Gospel? It would be impossible for anyone to hear/see Katie sing this song and not notice that something is undeniably different about her. As we talked, she said, “I feel I was born to sing this song” and “these are songs of revival”. It was not until later on my plane ride home, that I realized these statements were, in fact, true. These are songs of revival, and Katie was to sing this song along with several others. I could feel the stirring of revival more than ever that night, and I realized the Lord was answering two great prayers about the music. First, He showed me these songs are songs of revival with the ability to bring great healing, because God is in every ounce of them. Second, He showed me they are to be sung in Guatemala for revival. This night was the affirmation I was seeking from God, and Guatemala was the place I was supposed to be after college so that I can share these songs and sing for revival.
By the end of my trip, I had 11 songs written; however, as I left Guatemala, I felt a stirring in my heart for the widows who lived in the mountains and wrote the 12th song on the plane ride home. I wrote the words to the song Arise, and when I had access to a piano, I had the chords figured out in a matter of minutes. This song began to weigh on my heart immensely, even though I was writing others at the time, during my first week of school and I was not sure why. After seeing how the Lord provided Katie, I began to pray for specific people to sing this music. I felt the Lord telling me this song was for someone specific, but I did not know whom. Most of the songs are written in my vocal register and need to be transposed for others, but when I wrote this song, I knew which chords were to be played immediately after I played them and felt it was for a female voice. To check and see if the key of the song was any good, I decided to share the song with Giovanna and asked if she could sing a line to see how it would fit in a female’s register. We sang through the song, and afterwards looked at each other through tear filled eyes in awe of what the Lord had given me to write down.
I began to pray earnestly for the Lord to show me who was to sing Arise, and as I walked into our first choir rehearsal of the new semester, I noticed Mollie Landman Hunker had returned to school. Mollie attended school during the first few weeks of the fall semester, and I knew who she was because of my being on the Orientation Board (welcoming committee). Also, since I was on the orientation board, I was briefed to know that one of the students was coming in married and battling cancer. I was running the bouncy house at an event when I met Mollie and Brady, saw the wedding rings on their fingers, and knew who they were immediately.
During the fall semester, I was also placed in a required class not to my liking, Calculus I. However, while I mistakenly put off Calculus until my senior year, I also noticed Mollie’s husband was in my class. Brady sat in front of me, and after a few weeks had passed, I noticed some things had changed. One day he came to class looking rather sick, and then he did not return the next day. Mollie was also in the same touring choir as I was, and I noticed that she had disappeared from school as well. I sent an email to see how she was doing but never heard anything in response. School went on, and two months later I saw in the news that Brady had passed away. My heart broke for Mollie, and when I saw her in choir next semester, my heart went out to her. The Lord began to grow the seed of this friendship when I met her in the fall, but honestly, I had no idea how to be her friend. I was concerned with the fact that I would be graduating in 4 months and also that I am a guy, so I could not relate to her in a lot of ways. However, it was undeniable how the Lord had placed her on my heart, so I began to pray for an opportunity.
I made lunch plans with Giovanna and another friend of mine the first week back to school to tell them all about my time in Guatemala and what the Lord had done! I could not wait! We were just about to sit down in the cafeteria when I saw Mollie sitting two tables over, by herself. I wasn’t sure if this was the answer to my prayer or not but decided to go for it. Mollie was just about to pray and take her first bite when I interrupted her and asked if she was eating with anyone. She told me she was not, and so I asked her if she would like to join us for lunch. Mollie looked up at me and said "sure", and while I did not realize it all in the moment, the Lord was laying strong
foundations for many friendships that day and also planting seeds, because I was able to share my story about Guatemala with everyone including Mollie. This group decided to get lunch every Friday, and so the “Lunch Bunch” began!
All the while, I was praying and asking the Lord to show me what to do about my music and later that week I felt the Lord telling me that the song Arise was meant to be sung by Mollie. I had no idea what her voice sounded like (I only knew she was in choir), but what I knew the most was the fact that this feeling had to be true, because it was the same feeling I felt when I shared the song It Is Finished with Katie. Therefore, I began to pray even harder for the right opportunity to share the music with Mollie, and two weeks later the Lord answered my prayer.
On Friday February 14th, Mollie shared her story with us. It was one of the most beautiful, and yet most tragic things, I have ever heard. After we sat for a few moments, I told her that the Lord had given me a song, and I believed it was for her to sing. I had no idea how she would take this news, and yet when I told her she said she would love to hear it. Brooke, Giovanna, Mollie, and I all stayed after choir that evening; we experienced the power of the Holy Spirit together in mighty ways in those moments. After I sang the song for her, she told me this song was clearly from the Lord because of the way it spoke to her heart. Mollie said she was amazed how the Lord placed this song on my heart and her heart, because she had been searching for a worship song that could somehow capture what she had been feeling. She hadn’t been able to find one, and then this song, Arise, captured everything she had been thinking and feeling. We all spent the entire evening together, and I was in awe of how the Lord transformed a day the enemy was trying to use to discourage Mollie into a day of Joy. This is who our God is. In fact, on the following Monday, three days later, Giovanna sent me an article from Mollie’s blog titled “Joy”. Brooke later told me Mollie felt the Lord start to bring healing she thought she would never feel, or did not expect to feel this soon, and it all started that Friday as we sang.
More and more, I was beginning to see the power of these songs as the Holy Spirit was working through them, and my desire to share them increased. I organized a small concert for a few friends of mine. At this point, 18 songs had been completed the new ones being; Seek Knock and Pray, Shine a Little Light, Like a River With No Bed, The Feast, How Can It Be, The Cost, and yet I still felt a few more stories were needed. I had a few smaller concerts, telling others the many truths behind the words of the songs and what the Lord had done. So much was being revealed in these moments; in fact, Brooke told me the song Healer of Disease was something she felt connected strongly to her personal testimony. Every time we sang Arise, people were moved to tears; I could see the Holy Spirit moving through the melody to touch their hearts. I started planning to have a concert at the end of the semester to sing all of these songs, but I realized a few things. In order for this to happen, I needed more people to sing. Brooke, Giovanna, and Mollie had all signed up to be a part of this, but I needed another male voice and someone who could play the guitar while I played the piano.
Once again, I realized that the Lord had already planted seeds long ago for this to happen. A good friend of mine, Peter Stauffer, and I played together in several worship and coffee house events over the years. Peter and I also connected well because we both share a deep passion for worship/music. Therefore, in knowing Peter’s heart for worship, I began to ask the Lord if I was to include Peter in this process; when I felt Him tell me yes, I texted Peter immediately and asked him to breakfast because we needed to talk. I told Peter the entire story over breakfast and then asked him what he thought about being a part of this project. Peter told me earlier in the semester that he was trying to cut back on activities, and even though I had asked him to be in several other performances later on in the semester I could not help but ask him to be a part of this as well. We chatted a little longer and after the conversation, he told me he was in.
The first night I shared my music with Peter happened to be the same night I shared Arise with Mollie. You see after I had shared Arise with Mollie, I left to meet Peter to work with him on this music. I told Mollie and Giovanna they could join us after if they wanted after dinner, and as a matter of fact, they did! That evening we sang through several songs, and I can see it now as if it were yesterday, all of us were standing in the hall, amazed at what the Lord was doing and what He had given us to be a part of. We just kind of giggled and laughed, because we were so excited to begin this process…whatever the process was.
What I had not noticed until later was how the Lord orchestrated this entire group and brought them together so perfectly. The Lord brought the people these songs needed in order for them to be sung, and we began to work on the music to prepare for our concert.
Things were on track to perform these songs at the end of semester until we returned from spring break, and the entire world shut down due to Covid-19, and we returned to our homes. At this point there was no hope of a concert, and I was upset because I wanted people to hear this music. However, had this not happened, then this music would not have been as refined as it has become over time. After three more months of school, the album was at 20 songs; Two Coins and Let it Begin were the last two songs added to the album.
Even in the midst of the pandemic, we worked remotely and eventually found time to get together and work through all the songs. Over the several months of quarantine we learned the harmonies and made good recordings for practicing. Peter and I even found time to practice the instrumentals. While I think the music would have been good if we had performed it at the end of the semester, it would not have been anywhere as thought out or rehearsed as it is now. Peter told me as we practiced, he had a vision of children dancing to this music as they were surrounded and filled with the joy of the Lord.
The Lord also gave me the idea to build this website so that people can learn more about the music after they have heard it and dive deeper into the scriptures. He also provided, Rachel Courtley, a friend of mine and the most perfect artist to help design our logo, song/cover art. I was also in need of a cello player and was reminded of a friend from school. I texted Karsten Langerquist, and he enthusiastically jumped on board, adding so much to this music through his God given talent. I even began to pray about how to record and did all the research for equipment. I could not bring myself to buy it and also knew I could not afford to pay a recording studio to record all 20 songs. I was then given the idea to reach out to my church about recording. I thought I would ask only about equipment, but left the conversation with so much more. The lead worship leader at my church, Joshua Orr offered for us to record at the church, and their audio technician Matt Black, also agreed to help record and mix the music. I had to pull myself off the floor and tell him YES!! Time and time again, the Lord has provided exactly what was needed when it was needed.
We continued our work on the music and then began creating Bible studies, writing our stories, learning harmonies, learning instrumentals, building a choir, and so much more until we were able to record. Though not in my timing, the Lord was bringing everything about perfectly and in His timing. At the beginning of the semester I also felt strongly that Katie was going to fly up to the states for our concert. With Co-vid everything shut down, but that feeling never subsided; I held on to it as the days carried on, for I believed she would come one day, and we would have a concert and share our story with others.
I know God will bring a time for this music to be shared in great ways in the future, but the truth is, I already had my first concert. When I returned from Guatemala in January, I was asked to talk about my trip with the 5th and 6th graders I worked with at my local church. I was not sure how I was going to talk about my trip with such a young audience, given I was still processing what had happened. I wasn’t even sure if some of the kids knew what a prophecy was. I didn’t want to lose their attention, but wanted to encourage them, so I decided to title my message “The Importance of Sharing Good News”. As I was sharing the message, I was astonished at what God was doing. Every week I watch the leader get up and try to get thirty-five 5th and 6th graders to pay attention; it is tough to get everyone quiet for a 15-minute message. Yet as I was sharing, they did not make a single sound and I talked for 45 minutes. Halfway through my message, I wasn’t sure how much to share, but told them I trusted their ability to handle what I wanted to say. I shared Katie’s story and told them all about the music. I even told them I was planning to go to Guatemala and share this music with people. When I said this, I was stopped by one little boy who said “HEY! What, so you mean this is good news? You are going to leave us… this is NOT good news!” I then had to quickly calm thirty-five 5th and 6th graders as quickly as I could, explaining to them how they have heard the good
news of Jesus Christ, but there are others who have yet to hear of it. When I was done sharing, they asked some questions and several of the girls started to chant, “Play us a song! Play us a song! Play us a song!” I ended up playing Seek Knock and Pray, and the Lord flowed through the melody. The kids told me afterwards how excited they were to hear the other songs, and how they wanted to sing them in church. I also watched as they told their parents what happened as they came to pick them up that evening. The good news was already spreading. I will never forget this first concert. I thought it was very fitting for it to be for children as Luke 18:16 says, “[Jesus] ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’”
I have learned God’s timing is perfect, and this music will be released when the Lord sees fit for it to be released - not a minute sooner, not a minute later, but perfectly on time. The Lord is laying the foundations for this music to be sung and the groundwork for revival.
Finally, I will never forget how Katie said, These songs are songs of revival … Therefore, in light of all God has done and is doing, we will sing … we will sing these Songs for Revival…
Fast forward One and a half years (2021)...
I had been on the field for a year and half before I met Sara Bannister, (Johnson, at the time). I had been living in Honduras for 6 months and was just about to leave to move to Guatemala and join Adonai International Ministry. A friend of mine from college reached out to me and asked me if he could share my contact info with one of his fellow interns (they were all a apart of a cultural internship in Africa at the time), because she had interest in music ministry. I had been in a season of sharing about Songs for Revival and so I didn't hesitate to say yes. About a week later I set up a zoom call with Sara Johnson, and right before I clicked "admit" to let her into the zoom meeting it dawned on me. I am about to talk to a girl who wants to spend her life overseas doing music ministry... this doesn't happen every day... I say there for a moment and then I prayed... Lord please let her be cute!
We talked for three hours and I shared so much about my life and story and how I had gotten into music ministry! Sara was so kind to let me keep talking about my story and in the final moments I saved for her to share about hers she told me how she was recording a song in a studio the next day! Since we have done all our recording and producing at home or in a closet (we did this for sound proof reasons) I really wanted to know how her experience would be! I asked Sara to tell me about her experience of recording in the studio when she finishes and she agreed and said that she would! She also sent me a voice memo of the song she was going to record. When I listsened to it my jaw dropped. I had never heard such a beautiful sound. I immediately did what any 23 year old would , I called one my best friends and sent him the recording so I could tell him about the incredible girl I had just met.
I waited for a reply from Sara, to hear about how her recording session went, but I never got one. I wasn't sure if I should pursue the conversation or not becauseI knew very little about her and I was also leaving Honduras to travel to Guatemala. However, during my 15 hour bus ride from Honduras to Guatemala I decided to text Sara to see how the recording session went. We began to text... and never stopped. We found oursevles staying up late talking and wake up the next morning to see if we received a message. It was in those moments that I knew I had found someone special. I knew this was true and also knew the pressures of finding a partner before graduating from a small christian school, so I asked Sara to be my girlfriend, even though we had never met in person... and she said "yes"!
We met for the first time when I returned home for a friend's wedding in November of that year. During our first date together I felt... Sara is the one... In the months that followed we found ourselves longing to be together, navigating the difficult terrain of long distance dating, and trying to figure out what it looked like to date because we had no role models who dated as we had! In the midst of all this I was trying to ring shop, and find the courage to propose!
On July 9th, 2022 we were married. The Lord answered our prayer, and our wedding day was so much fun! We were blessed to be surrounded by so many of our friends and family as we celebrated God's union of our two lives. We had a time of worship during our wedding ceremony and it was during this time that I knew even more than I had before that God gave me the perfect partner. I had always wanted to live out my life with someone who was just as passionate about music and ministry and He Sara to me , and I to her. He gave me someone who is kind, smart, thoughtful, caring, loyal, worthy of honor, so incredibly beautiful, gifted, and who loves Him with all her heart. I am not worthy to deserve such a gift, but God is so good that He delights in giving them.