Playing in Gauteng keeps us real busy. There are so many churches out here, we are usually fully booked up without leaving the province. But this year we were privileged enough to head down to KZN for the first time. But I’ll get to that shortly.
After a week or two off in the July holidays, we kicked things off again with a visit to a church we’ve had a lot of history with – Heidelberg Methodist. We played there quite early in our journey a few years back, and since then have visited each year, and in fact I led worship there once or twice a month in 2016 and 2017. Rev. Ray Goddess has been a mentor to me in many ways, and now his wife Rev. Elize Goddess is leading HMC, and we were glad to be back.
We played There’s a Light at both morning services. The church was nice and full both times, and as always, “Saviour Jesus” has a huge impact at the end. “Lamb of God” also got quite a reaction – and this always surprises us, because it’s our hardest rocking song and we always wonder if it’ll be overkill. But instead it always seems to get under people’s skin in a good way!
A great morning – thanks Elize for the kind words at the service! We’ll be back with new music in the future.
Nigel Methodist Church
The week after we went back in the same direction, to Nigel Methodist, where Rev. Ray is now leading. We arrived in the icy cold and had some nice coffee while we were setting up. How nice to have a full platform up front now – we could spread out a little more than we used to!
Again the church was packed – and again we played There’s a Light. A powerful set of songs – and even those who came over from HMC to hear the songs again enjoyed them a second time!
Thanks Ray for always being a great friend and mentor to us. Keep up the good work at NMC, and we look forward to coming again!
Emergency Services Chaplaincy
Next up we had the humbling experience of leading worship for the Emergency Services Chaplaincy of South Africa as they ordained new chaplains. We led worship up front and the people sang along whole-heartedly. Later Rev. David Niebhur led the ordination service, and I led on the piano.
Thank God for people who do such brave work! We realized all over again what wonderful, passionate individuals these are. Thanks Rod Berry for inviting us to share in such a special occasion.
Road trip to Howick
August began with a trip down to Howick! We realized that this would be the furthest from home we’ve played – apart from Springfield Missouri, of course. We took a slow, steady drive down in some strong winds, and arrived on Saturday afternoon to get set up.
The Powells have some family in Howick, and we all had a great dinner together on Saturday evening. Then on Sunday morning we played at the Upper Umgeni Presbyterian Church. The advertising and promotion paid off – and the church was full, to the point that some extra chairs had to be brought in! What a privilege to lead the people in worship. “Rock of Ages” surprised the people, as it always does, but then “To God be the Glory” and “Battle Hymn” were great, and by the time we got to “Come Unto Me” and “Never Again” there were tears flowing all around.
We finished, as we always do for this set of songs, with “How Great Thou Art”. Such a powerful moment! It always brings the whole service to a high point, as we sing:
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim “my God, how great Thou art!”
A perfect way to end a great visit. We’re hoping to be back in 2019 with some of our other music! A big thanks to Nigel Fuller for welcoming us so warmly.
After a relaxing lunch and a lazy drive through the countryside, we were off to St Anne’s Diocesan College in Hilton for a Sunday night worship event. Rev. Paul Oosthuizen at Hilton Methodist arranged it, and we were just in awe of the stunning grounds and beautiful chapel we set up in:
As we prepared for this event, we couldn’t help thinking: what could a group of teenage girls possibly get out of our music? We tend to write songs that are stories of faith and reflect on the way God journeys with us – in a real old-fashioned rock style. So we prayerfully and carefully picked some songs we thought might use, and hoped for the best!
Well, we were stunned by the reaction! 140 girls in that chapel sang along brilliantly to each song. They joined in loudly as we sang our anthem-like “Soldiers”. They stood and joined us in a great time of worship as we sang “10 000 Reasons” and “How Great is our God”. They listened carefully to the moving story in Doug Ray’s “Hammer No More”. They took up the challenge in “A Picture of Your Love”. And then as we closed with “Jesus is Alive”, they went crazy and raised the roof as we gave a shout of praise to our risen Saviour! We’ve never had a crowd get so loud and excited during the end of that song!
What an evening! God has a way of just moving in the hearts of people in ways we never expect. Forgive us Lord, for doubting! And thank you for using those songs in such a memorable night of worship.
And so we took a slow drive home on Monday, thanking and praising our God for a great weekend.
Boksburg Central Methodist Church
A week later we played very close to home. We’re based in Boksburg, and we’ve played at many churches in the area. But bizarrely, we’ve never played at Boksburg Central Methodist. 8 years into our ministry we finally did.
It’s a church with much history for us. My parents were married in this church. Trinity Sunward was essentially an offshoot of this church – and it was at Trinity that we got our start as a worship/music ministry. Really, none of this would be happening without Boksburg Central Methodist!
As always we played our Never Again set to introduce ourselves to a new congregation. I played the organ intro of “Rock of Ages” on the big beautiful organ and then jumped over to the keyboards for the rock ‘n’ roll part of the song. Man, nothing like the pedal notes on a real organ to shake the windows!
It fascinates me how my “Never Again” talk comes out so differently every time I do it. It’s as if God is guiding me to say words that need to be said to that specific group of people. Sometimes some stories get left out, and other things come in unexpectedly, and while the majority of it stays the same, it comes out in a fresh way each time. The message really seemed to hit home on this occasion. Thank You Lord, for using an old song to bring an old message to so many new people week after week.
eMseni Methodist Church
August ended with a trip to my home church – eMseni. As many of you know I am on staff at eMseni these days, following a call to ministry, and heading up the evening service each week. It’s been a wonderful journey so far, and I am getting the hang of leading services from the pulpit instead of the piano!
I was down to preach all 3 services on 26 August, so I thought I could bring the guys around and do a music day instead. We arrived at the crack of dawn and set up our gear, and led the early service for the first time.
What a day! All 3 congregations were deeply touched by the songs. It was strange for me – for most people, they know me as the musician, and coming to see me as pastor and preacher has been a change. But then for some eMseni folk it’s the other way round, and seeing me with the band was the change. Either way, we were glad to see how God used the songs to touch people.
At eMseni we do “Small Talk” every Sunday, where Aunty Sandy does a short lesson with the kids during the 09:00 service. As she spoke with them and they gave their thoughts and answers, I thought about a song we were about to sing: “Like a Child”. Faith like a child became all the more real to me as I watched Small Talk that morning.
I also used some CrossRoad songs for my devotions in the following week. I started a WhatsApp audio devotion at eMseni – which has since spread to many people all around the world as people share the clips every day. Rich and I shared some thoughts on our songs for devotions this week – and they’ve gone down very well! Listen to them here, and if you’d like to get these on your WhatsApp, message me on 0760506709 and I will add you to the list.
We are sharing There’s a Light at a bunch of churches in the next few months! Check out these dates and come along if you can:
Sun 2 Sept: Boksburg Baptist 09:00
Sun 9 Sept: Aldersgate Methodist 09:00
Sun 16 Sept: Boksburg North Methodist 09:00
Sun 30 Sept: St Peter’s By the Lake Lutheran 08:00 and 09:30
Sun 7 Oct: Meyerton Methodist 08:00 and 09:30
Sun 21 Oct: Willows Methodist 07:30 and 09:15
Sun 28 Oct: Elsburg Methodist worship service 09:30
Sun 4 Nov: Dalpark Presbyterian Church 09:00
Sun 11 Nov: Alberton Methodist Church 08:00 and 09:45
And then we’re onto carols!
God bless everyone, keep shining His light.