“God’s presence is always so tangible in the most impossible situations, and He chooses to dwell intimately with the humble and lowly ones. “ Worship leader Johanna reflects upon what she has learnt about worship from traveling around the world.
Throughout the years, I have learnt so much from worshiping with different precious people all across the nations. It always humbles me when I recall how much I have learnt about worship from those who are nameless, faceless, and oftentimes placeless. The following are a few of these priceless moments I have cherished and kept in my heart, for they have marked my journey with the Lord and left deep imprints in my life.
I will never forget His overwhelming presence sweeping over everything and everyone when we worshiped under a run-down shed in the remote mountains of Northern Thailand, our voices echoing through the meandering lush-green hilltops. The people’s faces lingered in my memory. They were illiterate farmers, with countenances worn out and wrinkled by the scorching sun they slaved under in the rice paddies every day. I did not understand a word of what they were singing, but the sound of their passionate worship stayed with me for years and shaped who I am. It is very unlikely I will ever see any of those villagers again, but on that day God told me to learn from them about worship. And I am still learning from them today.
I will also never forget the day when we drove almost 8 hours on a muddy dirt road to reach a small church in the middle of nowhere in Mongolia. I got off the dirt-covered jeep completely worn out by the journey and stumbled the few steps into the simple wooden church building, only to be greeted by a refreshing fragrance of pure sacrifice from desperate hearts. There was no band or any high-quality music equipment – just a man with his aged guitar and bare voices – but it literally felt like I had walked into the Holy of Holies. These people were poor, and they had nothing but the clothes they wore on their own bodies, mouths to feed back home, and endless basic survival problems to deal with. Everything around them speaks of an overriding hopelessness. Yet the beautiful and painful desperation that is released in their worship was so real and powerful. All they lifted to God was their hearts – it was all they had – and He told me to remember their faces, for they were the richest people in the world because of Jesus. The Mongolians have so much to teach me about worship.
I am also reminded of the smiling faces of the children in China, who so easily opened up their fragile hearts to God when we taught them a few songs about hope and love. These were village kids whose parents were working as low-class migrant laborers in the Beijing metropolis. They would have no welfare from the government, no chances at a proper education, no future in the big city. They were treated as dust by the society and so conveniently tossed aside and labeled as “citizens of no value”. But on that last day before saying goodbye, as I strained to hold my faith that God will provide for these young lives who are forgotten and forsaken by their own nation, I heard a song rising. The kids were singing a simple tune that we taught them, with lyrics speaking of the sunshine that is always present even amidst the rain clouds of life. I watched in awe as one by one the children began to cry when, after a brief shower in the sky, a rainbow appeared bright and clear. The kids began to sing louder as the assurance of His everlasting promise touched their innocent hearts. Until today, I can still hear these pure voices ringing in my heart as I sing that same song. I can still feel the anointing of a childlike faith, imparted to me from the precious children. These young ones have definitely taught me much about worship.
So many stories, so much memory … and there is so much more. God’s presence is always so tangible in the most impossible situations, and He chooses to dwell intimately with the humble and lowly ones. He is searching for the worshipers who would move with His presence, wherever He goes. He promises to teach us about worship in the most unlikely places, through the most unlikely people. I am definitely saying yes to this exciting invitation. How about you?
Johanna’s blog: jojo travels