Hello Everyone! The following is a repost from a blog entry that I wrote for The Justice Conference. I’m so honored to be a part of the worship team with my good friend David Bailey. The Justice Conference, taking place June 5-6 and produced by World Relief, has a new home base in Chicago. Will you meet me there? (or go to one of the satellite locations?) Guests include: Dr. Cornel West, Louie Giglio, Eugene Cho, Bob Goff, Ken Wystema, Ann Voskamp, The Rend Collective, and Crowder.
You can view the original post here, or simply read below!
About three years ago I went on a discovery trip to Asia to visit some communities and organizations that were steeped in justice work. One of the places we visited was the International Justice Mission office in Chennai, India. I had the chance to lead worship for their morning devotional, which I was nervously excited about. The office was quiet because some of the staff had left earlier that morning on a rescue mission of a bonded slavery camp. There was a tense anticipation in the air, and we could all feel it as we began to worship.
At first I began to question my presence and role in this meeting. I felt really conflicted. My work and gifting is song leading, singing, and playing music. Their work and gifting was liberating people from a lifetime of hopeless despair. “What am I doing here?” I asked to myself. Would they think I was completely lame for singing my little songs in the midst of all they needed to do? Could they sing while knowing that their operation could go bust at any minute?
But all that insecurity began to melt away once we began worshiping together. I quickly noticed how fervently people sang, lifting their hands and closing their eyes. Everyone in that space was worshiping God as if their lives depended on it. There was important justice work to be done – of that there was no doubt. But this justice work wasn’t going to be done independent of worship. In fact, now I realized that the two could never be separated.
In the midst of this call to live out justice in real and tangible ways was a collective breath of mutuality in our dire need for the one living God. We needed to worship God in unashamed honesty, whether that be through the lens of singing praises for God’s greatness, crying out to God in lament, realizing God’s hope through sober joy, or an uplifting of hearts to sustain us in the work of our hands.
I’ve thought about this experience many times since. It left an indelible mark on me. It reminded me that all of our works of justice are fueled and sustained by our creative expressions of worship. And all of our creative expressions of worship fuel and sustain our works of justice. It is all worship.
That is why I am so looking forward to our gathering together for the Justice Conference this June. What an amazing opportunity it will be for thousands of God’s children to gather together… to worship God as if our lives (and the lives of others) depends on it. To take a collective breath of mutuality. To sing of God’s greatness. To cry out to God in lament. To realize God’s hope through sober joy. To uplift our hearts, asking God to sustain us in the work of our hands.