Five o’clock in the evening on the last Saturday of the month, a bit of “organized chaos” can be found at my house. Running out the door, guitars in hand, music papers thrown in a back-pack, picks, capos, and extra strings strew in pockets, I throw up. prayers to my Gracious Father left and right as I battle with my heart of perfectionism even in the details of a Worship Night.
Awaiting me at the church will be a handful of kids setting up our sound system, placing cables, instruments and speakers in strategic locations – testing this and that. Later, more will trickle in to start a sound check. Prayers continuing to be thrown up. Anxiety builds, but then His Peace surpasses it.
We finish the sound check and begin our final practice before what lies ahead. Even as we practice, we know that we are on Holy Ground. Offering up our Worship to the God of All and leading others in that. Not a task to be taken lightly, but we take it with great joy.
The final preparations and arrangements have been perfected as well as we can in the moment. Then before we welcome those who have gathered to worship in song, 21 bodies come together to plead for His Presence to move in this place. That our hearts would be open to His Leading and that His Spirit would have its way this night.
A very quiet and reserved little girl (well she is not so little anymore) asked to join the Heart of Worship Team two years ago. I honestly didn’t even know she liked music. I had witnessed her singing a few times, but thought it was out of obligation to a request. Her presence in the group was one of timidity, but there was a joy in her eyes. Over the course of the next nine months, something began to seem different about her – In a good way. It was hard to put my finger on exactly what it was, until one Worship Night. With her voice raised, hands held high and tears streaming down her cheeks, one could see it – Freedom. There was freedom in that place, in her as I had never seen before. Jesus was setting her heart free in a new way and her response was a song or praise.
This young woman’s heart continues to be open, not without its challenges, but open to relationship with those around her, open to the One she worships and to what He is doing.
The Heart of Worship Team began in 2008 by the leadership of Josh Craner. As in many good stories, the beginnings were small. The team was later led by Ronnie Kadala and in time, but team grew. I started my involvement with the group in late 2010 and it now has 21-plus members. This group of “beautiful-organized-chaos” has grown into a family that is very much a part of my heart.
The Psalmist writes how “it is good to Praise the Lord, and make Music to Your Name, Oh Most High!” Psalm 92:1 He delights in our song to Him. However beautiful it is to human ears. Music can set a body into motion, can cause the foot to continually thrum out the steady beat long after the music has stopped, can tap that place of uncontrollable smiles or that well of salty tears. The writing of it can be the way of the pouring out one’s heart or be an outward expression of an inward joy.
For many of our New Hope children, God has placed a passion and a talent to make music to His Name. The nurturing of that passion and talent has brought relationship. Over time, those relationships have deepened.
As one of my students and I sat at the piano bench ready to start the week’s lesson, I could almost feel the hardness of his heart. We had a lesson to go through and new assignments to give out, but God was prompting me to dig a little bit deeper than just the lesson in the books. He had been my student for nearly a year and had achieved great progress in his musicianship. Before we began with the work at hand, I asked what was in his heart. He didn’t quite know, but he could tell that something wasn’t quite right, I gave him the assignment of talking to Jesus about what was going on his heart. Later that day, a loving, repentant little boy came to my house to ask for forgiveness. His heart was all jumbled up inside with selfishness, but Jesus was healing that in him. The following week, as he presented his past assignment to me, his piano pieces were played with much more joy and even his heart towards me as his teacher has never been more open.
Tapping into children’s passions and their talents is a door that can lead to their heart. Whether it is easy things to see or hard things, it is a door to their heart. Please pray with us and for us as we continue to make sure that our children are known, cared for and growing in the Father.
By Hannah Kusler, Youth and Ministry Music Coordinator (as published in the New Hope paper newsletter)
How U Can Help
*Pray that we will be able to minister through music to even more of our children.
*Donate used guitars or other musical instruments.
* Fund a Heart of Worship Team retreat – $1,000
Click here to donate to the New Hope Youth Music Ministry