Archive for category Prayer Requests

Help Me Get To Kinshasa, DR Congo

I’m excited to share with you about an opportunity that I have to go to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. My church, New City Fellowship sends a team to Kinshasa every year to maintain relationships with pastors there as we work on building health clinics and caring for orphans. These relationships developed as Congolese immigrants became part of our church family in St Louis, and we began to share their concern for the welfare of the DRC. Our vision is to partner with churches in Kinshasa to encourage each other in the gospel of Jesus Christ to walk in the light of the kingdom and to produce good works of love and mercy.

Whenever we hear about the D.R. Congo in the States, we usually hear about the violent civil wars or the widespread poverty. However, despite its hardships, the D.R. Congo produces unique and exciting forms of music known as Soukous and Rhumba. The Congolese style of virtuosic guitar playing has garnered fans all over the world, and is a technique that I aspire to master. Every year, when the New City Fellowship team returns from Kinshasa, they share with me stories of amazing musicians and passionate worship that defies the suffering in which it is born.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to meet with Athoms Mbuma, a pastor and musician from Kinshasa. Athoms and his wife are members of Le Groupe Adorons L’Éternel or G.A.E.L., a band of musicians who produce the best known worship music from the Congo. Athoms led songs in our worship service, gave a special concert, taught a clinic on Congolese music, and even gave me a guitar lesson. I was very blessed to meet Athoms for his skill, his faith, and his encouragement. Before he returned to Kinshasa, Athoms invited me to come visit him and to experience Congolese worship at its source.

The door has opened for me to accept that invitation by traveling to Kinshasa with the New City Fellowship team from May 25-June 6. In addition to pastors and medical professionals, we will have two other musicians on the team, Tony Myles and Suzanne Bates. We hope to both learn more about Congolese music and to share some about American music at a 3 day pastor’s conference. Pastor Athoms plans to return with us at the conclusion of our visit in order to have a special concert and worship clinic in St Louis.

Obviously, we need your prayers for safe travel and for spiritual fruit, but we also need financial help. This trip will cost $3000 for each member to travel. My family and I will use $1000 of our personal funds toward the costs, but we need your help to cover the additional $2000 which would be possible if 40 families gave $50 each. If you would like to contribute, please write a check to “NEW CITY FELLOWSHIP” with “WARD-CONGO” in the memo and send it to New City Fellowship, 1142 Hodiamont, St Louis MO 63112.


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2012 NCMC, Holidays, and more upcoming events

The fall season for many of us becomes more and more like a flume ride. We spend September and October in a slow ascent with a feeling that’s somewhere between excitement and dread as we anticipate the events on the horizon. Soon, we come over the crest and find our lives becoming a crazy blur of screaming joy and nausea. Next thing we know, it’s January and we’re left feeling a little cold and wet with the entire holiday season  nothing more than a SD card full of crowded and poorly lit jpegs. Personally, I’m about the round the crest this weekend, so I’m not having fun yet. However, despite my melancholic remarks, here’s some stuff that I’m genuinely looking forward to:

Thanksgiving in Tennessee

We’re doing “Turkey Day” in the land of the Moonpie this year. I’m looking forward to talking shop with my dad, having a snackdown with my sister and kin, and getting together with old friends in order to have interactions that are more meaningful then liking their status. Maybe I’ll take my kids to the new Muppets flick.

Youth Sunday – November 27

The New City Fellowship youth band is going to take the role of worship music leadership for weekend. I love youth Sunday for the way it brings a sense of worship being the shared experience of an individual expression. In other words, people give the youth a lot of room to express their faith in worship without the usual constraints. It’s an experiment in cross-cultural ministry as we allow the young and powerless to lead those of us who usually hold the reigns in the church. (November 27 is also my wife’s birthday!)

The First Ever NCF Christmas Concert! – December 10

The NCF Choir will get to make a little more joyful noise this Advent with this new Saturday night event. We will share some familiar classics as well as some new classics. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to celebrate together the wonderful expressions of music that have become such a meaningful part of Advent for the church. The NCF Choir continues to come into it’s own as a ministry that both nourishes the participants and the church on an almost weekly basis.

Reconciliation and Justice Conference 2012 – January 24-25

We will be once again hosting this special meeting of pastors and ministry leaders from around the US to have a dialogue about the issues of reconciliation and justice within our denomination. I’m going to be there leading some of the worship. You can register here.

7th annual NCF Black History Celebration – February 25

This had been the highlight of the year for our music ministry for a long time, but now, it’s only been diminished by the abundance of exciting things happening all year long for us. We expect this year’s BHC to continue the tradition of celebrating the gospel of Jesus Christ through the unique expressions of Black Culture.

Food For The Hungry – March 15-18

I’ll be in Phoenix in March 2012 leading worship at a special fundraiser weekend for the ministry Food For The Hungry. This is an exciting opportunity to participate in a ministry that I can <pun> really sink my teeth into</pun>.

New City Music 2012 Conference

I just published this post and then realized that I failed to say anything about the 2012 NCMC! This summer’s music conference will be hosted by my church again. With the search on for a new senior pastor, the folks in Chattanooga decided to take another year off. The dates will be August 1-3. I don’t really have much more to say about it than that. I’m currently looking for ideas for speakers, musicians, and clinics to feature, so give me any you have that come to mind.

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Rape of a Nation: A Short Film on The Democratic Republic of Congo

Here’s a video I watched online today about the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is a community of Congolese immigrants in our church. I’ve grown to love Congolese music and worship. Please cry out and mourn for the Congolese people. Our Father sees from heaven, and His kingdom will prevail against the gates of hell.

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Pray for the Kingdom of God in Lima, Peru

These are some faithful saints in Lima, Peru that are serving King Jesus. Take two seconds to lift them up in prayer. Here’s more info on their ministry.

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Murder on Maple

We woke up last night to some strange sounds.
Driver chased, shot to death in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS — Police are looking for the gunman who followed and killed a motorist on Maple Avenue near Kingshighway early today.
Edward Vaughn Wilson, 34, of the 5000 block of Kensington Avenue, was shot to death shortly after 1 a.m. today.
He was speeding west in the 5000 block of Maple, about six blocks from his home, when his car hit a street light, police say. Wilson was behind the wheel, and he’d been shot in the head. He died at the scene.
Witnesses told police they had seen a black Dodge Charger following the victim’s car, shooting at him.
Police said they had no suspects.

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Things Going On This Week

2009 BHP slide graphic regular.jpgOur contractor finished the work on our house. We are now officially done with the repairs, so anything else that breaks down, fall apart, or rots will be on me to fix.
Today the weather in St Louis is unseasonably warm. I rode my bike to work for the first time since our move (and the first time since daylight savings ended.) It took my about 10 minutes to get to work on my bike.
I’m getting psyced up about our Black History Celebration on February 21. It will be a fun time for all and I hope that we’ll get a lot of strangers. This weekend, I made an announcement in which I emphasized to people the potential for inviting neighbors and co-workers. We had a few full-color invitation cards that got snatched up right after church. We printed 200 more in anticipation of people getting the word out. The whole world loves gospel music, and so it’s a great bridge for the good news to be communicated.
Me and the fam are flying to Orlando after Easter to hang out with Sarah’s siblings. Apparently, there is an airline called Allegiant Air that only flys to a few tourist destinations from small airports. We got round trip tickets to Orlando from the Springfield/Branson airport for $60 a seat. So we’ll have to drive about 3 and a half hours first, but it sure beats trying to drive to Florida or paying to fly out of Lambert Airport. Maybe next time we go to Chattanooga, we’ll fly Springfield to Orlando to Chattanooga for $120 a seat.
No more stomach flu. No more staph infection. No more medication reactions. But today, my arthritis is giving me trouble again. My wrists are really bugging me.
I discovered this website for people who like to make to-do lists. I’m trying it out for now, but I am skeptical that it will be better than my good old legal pad and sharpy system.
The recording is progressing. We are hoping to have 5 or 6 tracks completed soon. Maybe, I’ll just go ahead and stick them on iTunes to see if my fans (86 on my facebook page) would like to buy them.

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Good news, but more prayer still needed

I’ve had a few developments in my life this week:
Our loan commitment happened yesterday, so we will probably close some time between Friday and Monday. After we close, the house will have some major work done that will take (Lord willing) 4-6 weeks. So at the earliest, we might move in sometime in January or February. We will need to purchase a washer and dryer, so let me know if any of you can help.
I was convicted yesterday in staff meeting that I had been frustrated with this house situation because I had an unrealistic sense of entitlement about what I deserved. I realized that God has used our real estate company to graciously bless us. We are receiving financial help from them to cover the closing costs which will easily cover the per diem charges that we’ve been accruing all this time. Please pray for us during the next phase of this process.
The other news I have relates to my arthritis. I saw my rheumatologist this morning and my condition has progressed to the point that he wants to start a more aggressive treatment. Up till this appointment I always left feeling like my doctor was not doing anything to help me, but today, I was glad that he was concerned because I’ve been concerned for a while now. More good news is that x-rays of my hands didn’t show any permanent bone damage. Please pray that God will use the next step in my treatment will help relieve my pain and protect my hands from any permanent damage.

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Recording Project: Vocals

Last Friday, Jacob and I finished the lead vocals for Jesus My Great High Priest and Before I Knew. I was super sleepy the whole session. It’s getting kind of boring watch Jacob edit vocal parts. The novelty has worn off. But, I am thankful for his skill and taste. The final product sounds great. I’m hoping to have a few finished up to the point that I can put something up on my myspace page for everybody to hear.
House Update:
We continue to wait. Everybody is moving very slowly. The loan is taking a long time to approve because it involves approving contractor bids in addition to the house itself. Meanwhile, our contract has expired and so the house is technically back on the market. The seller has kept it off of and has taken down the sign, but they would not do a second extension on the contract without a loan commitment. So we are trying to remain optimistic that everything will turn out fine when the loan comes out of underwriting. We are also preparing to walk away for the deal if it gets too crazy. We might lose a lot of money, but we use that as an excuse to lose a lot more money.
Congratulations to President-elect Obama. How cool that the USA was able to finally elect a black man! I am also glad that Barak Obama professes to be a believer. May the Holy Spirit lead him in every decision.

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17_waitingroom_inv.gifWe’re in limbo. The appraisal has been ordered (when will it happen?). Once the appraisal is done, the paperwork goes through the bowels of the bank to be processed (will the contractor’s bid and all the forms be approved or rejected for some technicality?) Once the loan commitment happens, then a closing can happen. Our contract extension (we were supposed to close last Saturday) puts the closing day on Thursday (no chance) and the seller has been charging us $100 a day as part of the extension. I wonder what will happen when we don’t close by Thursday. Once we close, there will be a long wait while the 4-6 weeks of repairs are completed before we can get an occupancy permit in order to move in. In the mean time, we’ll be packing, hanging out with Sarah’s sister, Meg, electing a president, starting up choir season, and preparing for the Holidays.
For now…we wait.
Please pray!

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Recording Project: Delay Fish

The title is of course a reference to “Finding Nemo” because I feel like I have a delay fish swimming around with me. Jacob and I go through phases of extreme productivity and then phases of stagnancy. Jacob had to cancel two weeks in a row because of various issues. I’m not frustrated with Jacob; delays and schedule problems are a fact of life that he’s dealing with right now. Jacob’s day job is with Starbucks and as you might know, they are going through a retooling process that has involved layoffs, store closings, etc. So, I know that Jacob has been preoccupied with a lot of that.
At the same time, I am preoccupied with the house stuff on top of normal family and work responsibilities. Whenever Jacob has to cancel, my first response is usually, “Oh good, now I can hang out with Sarah and the kids.” I don’t want the recording to get put on the shelf, but maybe that’s just going to have to happen over the fall. Being an independent artist means that I have to fit recording time into my 40 hour a week day job as well as take time to give lessons to pay for the additional costs. God has been so good to get the project this far, and as the song says, “He didn’t bring me this far to leave me.”
Please pray for this recording that Jacob and I will find good times to work. Pray that Sarah and I will be able to have quality time even with this added schedule commitment.

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