What is Worship? Changing the Life of a Child
- Melissa Hambrick Contributing Writer
- 2004 12 Dec
What is worship? Is it the intangible moment of peace you feel in communion with God? Is it a Sunday morning of voices raised to the glory of His works? Maybe it is a child in need, halfway around the world, and the hands, heart and hope that make her life possible?
Helping a child halfway around the world can sometimes feel intangible. But next time you are in the moment, singing a song of worship to the Lord, close your eyes and remember this story that recording artist and World Vision child sponsor Margaret Becker shares.
There is worship all over the world. You’ve never heard anything as beautiful as Africans singing their worship to Christ. A friend of mine just recently returned from a World Vision trip where she was invited to a “school.”
But in this region, the idea of school was brand new. She was floored when she arrived at a field where a lone fallen branch lay. That was the “school.”
There in the rain stood about 20 children, dressed in their best. She wept openly as they stood and sang “It is Well With My Soul” to her. She knew that many of them had lost all their family. Some had no parents. Some hadn’t eaten that day. Yet there, in the midst of what we would consider horror, they sang “It is Well.”
That is worship.
That is where we all come together—West and East, North and South. It was their “reasonable service of worship” in that moment. It makes me more cognizant of what mine should be in return.
Making a Difference
Luke 12:48 says is simply and poignantly: “And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.” (ASV)
Look around. How much has the Lord given to you—and what are you giving in return? We offer up our voices to Him in worship, but are we also willing to give our lives in service, or—sometimes more painfully—our hard-earned dollars?
In the United States, churches are responding to growing opportunities to come alongside poor communities where World Vision works. World Vision sees itself as a bridge between U.S. churches and churches and communities in poor countries. All Christian congregations, whether rich or poor, can be transformed through relationships with one another.
That’s why dozens of U.S. churches are shining the light of Christ, and subsequently, witnessing the reality of this transformation as they enter into partnership with World Vision to sponsor children, and help communities and churches in developing countries.
In Dayton, Ohio, Omega Baptist church and five other area churches are ore than halfway to reaching their goal of sponsoring 500 families in Ghana.
East of Seattle, in Bellevue, Washington, three churches—Westminster Chapel, Overlake Christian, and First Presbyterian Church—are walking alongside the budding Cambodian Church and the Cambodian people. Today these congregations sponsor more than 500 children in Cambodia’s Kompong Thom region, and specialist teams from the three congregations work directly with the people and churches.
“A partnership that connects a congregation to a specific place and people in the world is probably the most powerful opportunity to move a congregation toward deeper commitment,” said the Rev. Mark Carlson of Westminster Chapel. “Involving other churches on the ground floor also is a powerful way to connect churches together across denominational lines.”
She’s Praying For Me?
Margaret Becker has a busy life. Her latest album, Forever Yours, reflects the beauty of the Psalms. “I love worship,” she says. “I lead worship in my local church, and it is among the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had. To be lost in God’s presence, out of the way so that others can be lost as well—it is amazing.”
She writes amazing songs, she makes albums, she performs all over the country, she writes books—and for nearly two decades, she has been involved with World Vision on a personal and professional level. And, she says, it has changed her life:
I sponsor three children, all in Africa—two boys and a girl. Twoare regular sponsorships, and one—Tereza—is a HOPE child. That means that they have been deeply affected by the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Most of the HOPE kids have no adults left in their lives—almost all have died. It leaves them especially vulnerable. People come and seize their dwellings, which are often just a lean-to made of mud, and they have no one to feed them, protect them, care for them. It is beyond the words that I can access. It is devastating.
Tereza’s at a turning point in her life because in her culture, women are not valued. It gives young girls very few options, and very little hope.
But Tereza is going to school—something she could not do without the help of World Vision. She is learning how Christ feels about her. She is responding to that message by drawing nearer to Him and upholding His wishes for her life.
And World Vision has proven in Africa that if young kids are given a healthy self-identity—in this case, through the message of Jesus and His plan for their lives—that they will make choices that prolong their lives, like the choice to abstain from sexual relationships, which in turn prevents HIV/AIDS from spreading to a new generation. They also apply themselves better to their studies, bettering their chances of decent work and better villages. All of this comes through the support that World Vision allows me to send.
Tereza and I have exchanged several letters. She sends her love, and tells me she’s praying for me. That just floors me—she’s praying for me? It just shows you the love in these kids.
My People Are Happy in Jesus
The outreach that World Vision starts with individuals, but affects whole cultures. Margaret has seen it in the trips she’s made with the organization, witnessing how World Vision touches the lives of both infants and kings.
I’ve seen all the stages that World Vision takes a culture through, from the initial intervention to the successful extrication after the culture rights itself, and finds it’s own unique balance.
What I love about World Vision is that they help the culture within it’s own context. They don’t “Westernize” anyone. They present practical, hands-on help that would be out of the reach of these people otherwise—and they do it with the clear message that Jesus would do this if He were walking here on earth.
One of my most poignant memories of this being lived out was in Ghana. We visited the King over an entire region there. Through the interpreter (out there in the jungle!) he relayed his belief in Jesus, and why. He said that before World Vision introduced them to Jesus, his “babies” were dying. He said that their deaths were because of the tribal superstitions that did not allow for simple things like fresh water. In his case, over 50% of the newborns perished.
He went on to say that now, his children are healthy (meaning all the regions), and that their agriculture was flourishing. And with tears in his eyes, he said, “My people are happy, in Jesus. Jesus has brought us happiness.”
It was moving, seeing this regal man in tribal garb tearing up over Christ, with his well-worn Bible in one hand.
The entire experience has changed me. I ask people everywhere I go to donate, sponsor and get involved with World Vision.
Early in my career, I told myself that I would never ask someone something that I was not willing to do myself. So when I ask, I know I am asking some people to be “uncomfortable” financially in their giving. That’s why I push myself in that area as well. Not only do I sponsor three kids, but I have given to many other aspects of World Vision and their work, so I can feel like I am doing something that really costs me something.
If it came right down to it, I would have to say that there is not a check that I write out that does more or makes me feel better.
Can You Make A Difference?
It’s a simple answer to what seems an overwhelming question. Yes, you can make a difference.
World Vision is committed to continuing to strengthen its partnership with churches so that World Vision and the Church can serve as more effective ambassadors of God’s love among the poor. That means partnering with you, your family, your worship team, your church, or even a group of churches in your area.
For more information on how your congregation can join in the critical work among communities, people and children in need, please call 1-800-270-5629. Find out more about World Vision, including how to sponsor a child, at www.WorldVision.org.
[Source: World Vision eNews: “World Vision Serving the Church”]