Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Gospel in a song - more than a guitar lesson!

This week as I have started teaching the guitar lessons there has been a set of Vietnamese teenage girls who come. They are not girls who have been trafficked but interestingly enough just want to learn to play the guitar---a musical instrument that I discovered that only boys were supposed to be interested in. Yet here in Svay Pak, the girls are the ones who pick up the tunes more quickly and are more talented than the boys---hmm isn't that interesting! I think the boys are a little bit more ADD (attention deficit disordered) and are less inclined to spend the time to learn. They get bored easily or perhaps they may be a bit intimidated and embarassed that their female counterparts have advanced in their guitar skills ahead of them.

At any rate, these 5 girls were struggling unlike the others females in my class and I thought they were just slow. They knew the chords but they just couldn't play them to the tune. The initial feedback I got was that they couldn't sing but I discovered that the real reason was that their English was limited and hence were having problems learning the song and playing the tune. At that moment, out of desperation I prayed---'Lord how am I going to teach these girls to play guitar when they can't even speak English to understand how the tune goes?' Perhaps the alternative would be for them to learn it in Khmer but that didn't make sense either. Thankfully the Lord gave me an inspired thought---go through the song with them verse by verse in English so that they can learn the tune. A light bulb went on--now I know why the teachers have the students repeat in English the words they learn over and over again. So I began the same process having the girls repeat the words of the first four lines of the song as I slowly sang the tune line by line.

Lord I lift your name on high
Lord I love to sing your praises
I'm so glad you're in my life
I'm so glad you came to save us

A couple of them were shy initially and they kept saying they couldn't do it but with some words of encouragement, they gained more confidence and their faces lit up with smiles when they realized they actually could say the words in English and then sing it. The next step was teaching them how the guitar chords correlated with the words of the song. They soon picked that up and were so excited that they could play these first four verses. One of them even took the song sheet home so she could practice singing the song.

As they were playing their guitars and singing, I couldn't help but think Lord you have a creative way of engraving your truth upon the hearts of these girls. Here they are exalting you in a foreign language and learning the gospel message that is inherent in this song. Tomorrow they will learn the rest of the song:

You came from heaven to earth, to show the way
From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay
From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky
Lord I lift your name on high

At this stage, these maybe just words to them but Romans 1:16-17 reminds me that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. For in the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith. Indeed, this is more than a guitar lesson. These are more than just mere words written on a page to teach them English. These are more than words of a nice tune. These are words of life. These lessons are all about the Living God who is seeking to get their attention, who is seeking to draw them to Himself, who is seeking to reveal Himself that they may have new life in Him. They think they are coming here for guitar classes but God has another agenda for them---He wants to give them the gift of salvation. For He has plans to prosper them, to give them a hope and a future!

Pray for these 5 young women that as they attend these daily guitar classes, they will encounter the One who wants to put a new song in their hearts---a song of salvation, a song of hope, a song of joy, a song of peace, a song of love! May this be the beginning of a new journey with the Lord that will lead them to come to the Sunday services to worship the One who has loved them with an everlasting love and has ordained every day of their lives even before one of them came to pass!


  1. Dear Lisa,

    I'm sure I'm not alone here in Canada when my heart jumps seeing a new blog post from you. As I sit at my computer, I am so grateful to be journeying along with you and sharing your experiences. Your gift for story-telling makes each day vivid and alive.

    The song you are teaching the girls was one of the first contemporary worship songs I ever learned when I took the Alpha course nine years ago. It is so simple and yet so profound.

    As I pray for the girls, I think about the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well 2,000 years ago. In the course of the discussion, Jesus told her, "You Samaritans worship what you do not know ... yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." (John 4:22-23)

    These girls are singing a worship song and as yet, they worship what they do not know. But the time is coming *and has now come* when they will worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. I thank God for His gift of music; I thank Him that He has drawn these girls to the Sanctuary through music; I thank Him that He is working to transform their hearts and lives into the kind of worshipers He seeks; I thank Him that you, Lisa, blessed and dearly-loved daughter, get to be a big part of this work.

    Blessings and love,
    Linda Ruth

  2. Hi Linda Ruth, thank you and thanks to the others who have been posting their comments on the blog. You are all such an encouragement to me as this journey is indeed one of a partnership with each of you as you join with God to see His kingdom come in Svay Pak!

    Much love and blessings

  3. wow! this is really amazing to hear what God is doing, and how he is using these guitar lessons as a tool to deepen relationships and to draw His loved ones to Himself!
    I had a friend who used to always pray, "Lord, use me as your instrument" and here, He is using you, Lisa, and your instrument, as instruments in His hand! bless you! :)