Posts Tagged refugees

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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What are we going to sing this weekend?

Check out our whole service order here with links to where you can purchase some of the tunes on Amazon.


This is a tune that we heard on Salvador’s Con Poder CD which is killer. We don’t sing Spanish tunes as frequently these days because of the changing demographics of our congregations. However, I love this tune and I wish we could do more salsa tunes. This song expresses the joy that we have in Christ Jesus, and with a groove that makes you want to dance, it fits perfectly with the content of the lyrics.

Holy Holy Holy

A classic hymn by John Bacchus Dykes and Reginald Heber. It’s a tune that Christians love to sing because it helps us get our heads clear about who God is and why we worship him: perfect in power, in love and purity. The call to worship is from Isaiah’s vision of seeing the Lord on His throne, repenting of his uncleanliness, receiving the atonement, and then embracing the call to be a servant. The hymn and the scripture go hand in hand.

Bless the Lord (Son of Man)

Tye Tribbet and GA are responsible for this arrangement. It’s a tune that you play in 6/8 time, but with a slow 4/4 kind of pulse that gives it  a cool 3 over 4 feel. It’s a big guitar tune in the style of some of Michael Jackson’s cross over tunes like “Dirty Diana”. It’s a challenge to keep the tune rooted in a gospel sound instead of letting it slip into the Metalica realm. When we first started using this tune, I thought it would be too outside the norm to fit in our church, but I was surprised with how much people love it. Even my wife, who normally doesn’t like “loud” music, appreciates this tune. I think it’s because the content of the lyrics is so good, “My Strength, my Deliverer, the One who rescued me, my Hope, my Redeemer, Your love has set me free!”


Our South City site introduced this song to us. The text speaks with boldness of peace that comes during times of sorrow knowing that Jehovah sees and knows. In the context of our church (especially at South City) this song has special meaning because we have many refugees from war in our congregations. When we sing about this peace from the Lord, it’s more than a theological concept; it’s an real-life declaration.  The Spirit of God is powerfully expressed when people who have every right to have their hearts filled with vengeful hatred are able to sing about how they will lay down their “sword” for the Prince of Peace.

Ozali Nzambe

Following a time of prayers for justice and reading the Lord’s Prayer, we will sing this traditional Congolese chorus. It’s simple a song of praise in which the congregation sings  “Yahweh kumama” (Yahweh, be exalted) over and over while the leader sings phrases of adoration about God’s character. In a Congolese worship service, this song would be something that would be sung spontaneously in the context of prayer.

We Believe

This is a modern hymn that my dad, James Ward, has written. It’s a kind of creed tune that states that we are justified by faith alone, but that faith is demonstrated in acts of justice and mercy. It’s a very rich tune lyrically and the melody has a wonderful shape to it. It can be a little hard to sing sometimes because of some cool key changes, but it never fails to drive home the point. Returning to the Isaiah 6 theme, this song is the “Here I am Lord, send me” response to the gospel. It’s nice to end our worship set with a missional tune like this because we go from singing right into announcements and the offering which are all about opportunities to express our faith by sacrificing our resources, our time, our gifts, and our energy.

Were You There?

This song will be sung during the Lord’s Supper when we remember the power of the cross and the resurrection. This tune is a traditional spiritual that has become a fixture in hymnals all over the world. I love the turn at the end of the tune from “Sometimes it causes me to tremble” to “Sometimes I feel like shouting, ‘Glory!'” As we remember the grief and the pain of the cross, it’s not just a time to mourn, but it’s also a time to rejoice that Jesus is risen. The question of “were you there?” is not just a reference to spiritual union with Christ, but it’s also a song of consolation to the slaves who composed it. Jesus, God made flesh, suffered unjustly at the hands of oppressive men. The song asks, “Can you relate to his suffering?” Being there at the cross, for the slave, was a matter of trusting God’s sovereign justice that would not allow the innocent to suffer without the promise of vindication on the 3rd day.

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Christian Hipsters and New City Fellowship

The eternal muckraker/prophet (and my former youth leader), Anthony Bradley, has been sharing his excitement on Facebook about a new book that’s coming out called, “Hipster Christianity.” Anthony wrote a response over at World, and this is the opening paragraph:

Young evangelicals have made their initial descent into urban areas all over America, bringing their hipster culture and paternalism toward minorities along with them. Brett McCraken’s upcoming book Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide (to be released in August) presents an overview of these baby-boomer hipster children and their vision for Christianity (see Susan Olasky’s short review here). Writers like McCracken and Soong-Chan Rah remind us that the hipster Christian movement may not be as cutting-edge and progressive as it sounds. Instead of avoiding minorities—as suburbanites are often charged with doing—hipster Christians are simply colonizing them.

So where does my church, New City Fellowship and the community of NCF churches that began in the late 60s relate to this new “Hipster” brand of Christian culture? The article by Soon-Chan Rah that he refers to actually hits the nail on the head for me. The “emergent” and “hipster” culture seems to be a product of the white mainstream and is more or less off-the-radar of other cultures. At NCF, we certainly have hipsters and we attract them because of many of our core values (justice, reconciliation, sonship) and the counter-cultural attitude that is the product of those values. I myself am guilty of many hipster stereotypes (I dig the arts, I like to read, I’m fascinated by Swedish design and I’m love ironic humor.) I’m even guilty of relocation into a black neighborhood, which Bradley’s article condemns as paternalistic.

For NCF, I feel like we are a little outside the normal discussions of mainstream church trends. Maybe we are just a quintessential ex-hippy, social-justice church, but I feel that NCF is not as much a part of this trend toward hipster Christianity. I have friends who have joined our church who are total hipsters who have been in emergent churches in the past. They come to NCF and find that a lot of the battles that they were fighting in there emergent camps are non-issues here. As a “Reformed” church, we have always had grace over and against legalsim as our foundation. We’ve also been pursuing the call to justice and the present reality of the kingdom long before Shane Claiborne ever met Mother Teresa. Paternalism is a real problem, but it’s something that at NCF we stare in the face and talk openly about. We reject the white-middle class  attitude of being the saviors of the world in favor of incarnational ministry that reflects the attitude of Christ described in Philippians 2. I know that it sounds like I’m blowing our horn pretty loud, but I just want to say Bradley’s concerns are something that NCF churches are not oblivious to.

Hipsters, like Boomers, and every other culture are prone to sin patterns that need to be reformed by the gospel. Hipsters also need to be in relationship with people who are not Hipsters in order to have the benefit of seeing the gospel realized in cultures and attitudes that are different from their own. The Spirit of God is alive in the Word and it’s bringing conviction to the hearts of many young whites who might have sinful intentions, but the Spirit is not restrained by those weaknesses. Maybe all these “colonizing” hipsters who are returning to the city will move in next door to a Christian African American family who will teach them brand new things about Jesus that will renew their mind in brand new ways. Maybe as hipsters pursue justice, they will meet Christian refugees whose sincerity of faith and belief in the supernatural will  show them that irony and intellectualism can be pretty depressing and lame. Every culture has flaws which is why we need reconciliation so badly.

Are you a hipster? Does anyone really like to be so explicitly labeled?

What do you think about New City Fellowship? Is it a hipster church? A hippy church? Or an anomaly?

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My Refuge

This song was written to encapsulate a big part of the vision of New City Fellowship which reflects that commitment of God’s Kingdom to be a refuge for the fatherless, the alien, and the widow. The gospel of Jesus Christ is more than personal salvation, it’s a gospel about the restoration of the whole creation and a new world order of justice and mercy. Stylistically, I took this song in a soul/gospel/rock feel that is a kind of Staple Singers sitting in with the Beatles. Enjoy!

My Refuge

You’re my refuge
My refuge O Lord
You’re my refuge
In the midst of the storm
Though the mountains my fall
and the earth give way
You’ll still be my refuge
at the end of the day

Aliens and strangers
from across the lands
are here on our doorstep
living the best they can
Famine and warfare
corruption and greed
have made these people homeless
brothers and sisters in need
Lord you were my shelter
when I was a stranger too
now when I see injustice
I want to be a refuge like you

To Chorus

In the heart of the city
a young man is there
abandoned by his father
but nobody seems to care
everyday is a battle
a struggle to stay alive
he can’t trust nobody
if he wants to survive
Lord you were my Father
when I was an orphan too
now when I see injustice
I want to be a refuge like you

To Chorus

Lord you were arrested
and falsely accused
abandoned by your best friends
tortured and abused
willingly you suffered
and were killed on a tree
you endured this injustice
to save sinners like me
Lord you were my ransom
when I deserved to suffer too
you gave me your compassion
So I could be a refuge like you.

To Chorus

“My Refuge”
Words and Music by Kirk Ward
© 2008 Kirk Ward Music

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I Love My Wife

Sarah is getting up early this morning to help out with a new ministry in our church called FORAI which stands for “Friends of immigrants and refugees.” Its a micro-business designed to give immigrant and refugee women an opportunity to create extra income by learning a hand craft. What a “Proverbs 31 woman” I married!

Sarah has a new blog on wordpress also.

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