Travel and teach enough internationally and you’ll have some
amazing experiences. I’ve seen lions and elephants in the Serengeti, swam in
the ocean off Filipino islets, and taught the New Testament in the shadow of
Mars Hill in Athens. Those are no longer empty boxes on my bucket list.
Then there are those completely surprising moments like we
had this morning. We’ve been teaching a group of pastors from a closed country.
These ten men oversee hundreds of small Christian communities in the villages
around them. As we’ve been studying the Attributes of God, the first of TLI’s
core nine curriculum modules, we’ve started each morning with a devotional
message from God’s Word and the pastors then join in a memorized song together.
Over the first two days, we noticed that each of these songs was always one of
the Psalms. Did the regulative principle make it’s way into these churches?
As I got up to teach on God’s omniscience, truthfulness, and
faithfulness, I asked the pastors if they knew a song for every one of the 150
psalms. “Yes, of course!” they answered. To which I quickly and quite suspiciously
said, “Really? So if I mentioned any number between 1 and 150, you’d be able to
immediately sing that psalm?”
“Yes, of course!” they answered.
Each of the songs they’d sung had a different beat, a unique
melody, and had been sung with enthusiasm, passion, and worship of our living God.
I seriously doubted that they’d be ready with a random and spontaneously chosen
number. So Scott pulled Psalm 32 out of his proverbial hat and I was ready to
see them stumped. Within seconds, though, hands began to clap a rhythm, a
drummer began to beat on the table, and voices joined together:
“Blessed is the one whose
transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom
the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no
Game. Set. Match. If these brothers had a mic, they would
have been fully justified in dropping it after singing this version of Psalm
As I continued to ask them about their knowledge of the
psalms, I was astounded. As these men travel to remote villages and isolated,
persecuted Christian communities, they’re teaching the Word of God to the
people of God by singing the chorus book inspired by the Spirit of God.
Amazing. These brothers’ ministry mirrors Paul’s description
of his ministry: “on frequent journeys, … danger from robbers, danger from my
own people, … danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, … danger from false
brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and
thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And apart from other things,
there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2
Corinthians 11:26-28). They’re leading small Christian communities with the
Word of God and we now have the joy of teaching and training them for further
ministry in the Word. It’s quite likely that we’re training martyrs.
Right now, a group I’m in at church is required to memorize
three verses every two weeks. I’ve made excuses, fallen behind, and generally struggled
with this. After hearing these faithful servants sing Psalm 32 on cue, I will
never complain again. It’s now time for me to play catch up with my Scripture
memory assignments. I’ll have to work on the 150 psalms later.
For His glory,