RIVERSIDE — The new America Singers had an amazing summer tour, with a wonderful, creative, loving, hard-working, cooperative, professional and committed bunch of Singers. We all grew as Christians, leaders, soul winners, friends, and in our knowledge of different cultures and the variety of skill-sets necessary to effectively share the love of Jesus with various people groups. We came home more mature and closer to the Lord than when we left.
Summary: June 15-20, tour camp and a program for US Marines at Camp Pendleton. June 21-July 13, Hong Kong; July 14-20, China; July 21-Aug.1, Australia. We sang to more than 28,000 people (mostly non-Christians), and more than 1,800 were born into God’s forever-family.
I’m mostly amazed at:
In a little over a month, we were blessed to clearly share His love and power to change lives with tens of thousands of lost people. In Hong Kong, most of our audiences included high school, middle school and upper primary students in “Christian” schools. The majority of these students are not believers, but these schools give us the freedom to share clearly, give invitations and have staff follow up. In Hong Kong we also shared with thousands of workers and tourists in street performing venues and shopping malls. We sang in public auditoriums and banquet halls for the community, under freeway bridges for the homeless, and in churches.
Serving in China
In China, we primarily did factory shows. The suicide rate for 20-year-olds is just under 700 per day, and we were invited to provide free entertainment, but also introduce them to a Father (God) who loves them and to a family (Christians in the factories) who can love them, be their support group and help them find joy, encouragement and a reason to keep living. We also encouraged and did evangelistic work for both government-sponsored and underground churches. One pastor challenged his young people to develop a group like ours that can do evangelistic work both inside China and in other countries.
Serving in Australia
In Australia, we also worked in Christian schools, but provided encouragement and evangelistic opportunities for Baptist churches in the Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong areas.
We sang in local dialects — Tagalog, Thai and especially Cantonese and Mandarin. Some programs were done totally in Chinese. Each was designed to fit the needs of the audience: children, the elderly, street people, tourists or shoppers in streets or malls, school assemblies, factory workers, church people and their unsaved friends in Filipino, Arabic, Chinese or English congregations. We had to know their background, customs and comfort levels before we could effectively perform or talk to them one on one.
While church programs could be fairly straightforward, most audiences required enough creative choreography, skits, acrobatics or square dance routines to keep their attention long enough for us to keep feeding them the gospel in ways they could understand, and allow the Holy Spirit time to work on their hearts and come to a time of commitment.
Packing tons of supplies and handing out food, clothing and other items to street people (and those in the community after many concerts) or teaching conversational English … we needed to perfect special skills. Even organization to keep our team running smoothly. Singers took turns writing their perspective of how the day went (see excerpts next page) — things that required skills, discipline and a servant’s heart.
Rehearsing, Bible study and skill development
Each day included rehearsal, Bible study and skill development based on biblical principles for inter-personal relationships, character qualities, leadership, cultural appropriateness, sharing our faith and even historical or political issues that might affect our audiences.
Since we had so many first-time Singers, we spent more time than usual with our textbook, “On the Road With Jesus,” to understand effective overseas mission work.
“Life Lessons from World Travelers” is our “mental toughness” manual. These daily devotionals are scripturally based ways to keep us focused on the Lord’s way of dealing with situations that can come up in ministry. In doing half a dozen shows a day, dancing, singing and doing physical labor in the tropics and 90-plus-percent humidity and with very little sleep, these lessons are absolutely essential.
We came to understand that God’s family is a team effort. We realized as never before that we need fellow Christians. At home, we had a team of prayer warriors, financial supporters, script writers, music arrangers, studio technicians, choreographers, chaperones and a nurse; people who built things, made contacts, provided housing, rides and food.
Local Christians help
In Australia the Baptist churches provided homes for the girls, a house for the guys, transportation, all our meals, arranged venues to sing and follow up after we left, as well as throwing in some sightseeing trips.
In Hong Kong and China local believers set up venues, provided housing and transportation and follow-up, and had literally hundreds of volunteers day and night working to keep things clean, have meals ready, help with interpretation, get us to our destinations, hold us up in prayer and act as audiences to help draw crowds quickly; as well as carrying equipment and acting as “security.”
The Lord arranged for things that could never have happened without His Body working as a team. We had no question that God was doing something special.
He poured out His Spirit on the people (and on our team). While we can confidently record more than 1,800 people praying to receive new life in Christ, we know there were many more lives encouraged, blessed, pointed toward Him, and probably many more first-time decisions. Decision cards were turned in to local Christians and churches responsible for follow-up.
God’s people, in God’s time, who were willing to be in God’s place in God’s time. What a place to be.
(Campbell has led the New America Singers, California Southern Baptists’ student choir, for more than 30 years. For more information call 951-369-9616.)
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