When I committed to a year of ministry with CTI, I expected our tours to be absolutely packed with nothing but concerts and driving. Oh sure, we’d have fun, but free time would be at a premium, and our days would be jam-packed with scheduled ministry opportunities. Because hey, that’s what travelling music ministries do, right?
Well, it’s about a week into our first tour, and our longest drive was the three-and-a-half hour commute from Willmar, Minnesota to the Greater Sioux Falls area in South Dakota. We’ve played just 4 concerts (with one of them being an acoustic set), we’ve done very little driving since we arrived here, and we’ve probably spent more time eating great food than playing the music we’ve practised intensely over the past month. I’ve been having a great time getting to meet people and visiting new cities, but this certainly wasn’t what I expected at the beginning of our tour. In fact, it was a bit discouraging for me at first to be constantly updating my supporters with all the fun things I’d been doing, since I realized my Instagram feed probably looked a bit more like a vacation diary than a ministry update channel.
But it’s been through this downtime and through unscheduled encounters that God has been teaching me some of the most important lessons. And although we’ve only spent a few hours on stage, opportunities to be faithful stewards of the Gospel have come at the most unexpected times.
One of the most intimate ministry opportunities I’ve experienced thus far was entirely unplanned by CTI. We were invited to the Keys’ house (the girls’ host family in Hartford) on Sunday evening for a delicious meal and a chance to relax. After dinner, we were invited to join a Bible study led by the family’s youngest daughter and her friends. It was incredibly encouraging to witness these young believers discuss their faith, as well as their desire to reach the lost with the Gospel. At the same time, we were able to fellowship with them, join in their discussions, and encourage them in their journies by proclaiming the Gospel. We even got to play a couple of our songs acoustically for them!
On Monday (our day off), God provided me with another opportunity to be faithful to my mission. We had been treated to lunch by Rhonda, my host mom in Hartford, and found out that one of her employees was interested in music ministry! I had the chance to chat with her about CTI and what our programs were all about. Although this was far from a standard recruiting venue, I chatted with her for a bit and was able to share with her some information about CTI’s application process. It was through this chance encounter that God presented this young woman with a possible avenue through which she might respond in faith to the Gospel and the Great Commission.
When I think of how “unscheduled” these encounters seemed, I am reminded of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman. In this story, Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah to an unsuspecting Samaritan woman at a well. Here’s how Jesus initiates this encounter:
So he [Jesus] came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”
Jesus isn’t standing at a pulpit. He’s not addressing a captive crowd. The fact that He would approach an immoral, Samaritan woman at all was astounding and culturally shocking. Yet this is an opportunity for Jesus to minister and present Himself as the Gospel, no less important than the Sermon on the Mount, or any other address He makes before great crowds. And the hope that He shares with the Samaritan woman is the same hope He offers you and me – the hope of a Saviour who is redeeming this broken, sinful world to Himself and making all things new.
In light of this Gospel, God has been showing me what it means to live intentionally for Him. As Jesus approached a lone woman on His “downtime”, I’ve been reminded that the Gospel is not to be proclaimed only in front of crowds, or on stages, or behind pulpits on Sunday mornings. We have been entrusted with the greatest truth known to man – that Christ laid down His perfect life for the redemption of every undeserving sinner – and we ought to be intentional in believing this truth, and proclaiming it loudly, no matter where we are. Yes, we ought to do as Peter exhorts, to “honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
So we’ll definitely have our fair share of concerts during the year, and I can’t wait for those opportunities. But as God makes the Gospel more real to me, I am thankful for the ministry opportunities He’ll provide for us during downtime and unscheduled encounters, too. So whether on stage or off, during a concert or after another great meal, whether at an unexpected Bible study or during an unplanned conversation with a waitress, may we boldly proclaim Christ in all that we do!