We are now just past the midway point of tour. As one of the kids prayed last night, "Please let time slow down a little bit."
We've been posting a lot of pictures of our group having fun but I wanted to share a little bit more about the heart of this trip with you. Because of the venues in which we sing, we're often not able to take pictures. When we go to a homeless shelter or children's home, it's critical that we respect their privacy, so cameras are always left on the bus. We have to tell the story in a different way...
On Sunday evening, the choir arrived at the Knox Area Rescue Mission (KARM) to complete service work and sing during the chapel time. We have done this before in many different shelters. We planned to have some kids work in the kitchen, while others would be sorting donations or completing projects around the facility. KARM had asked for another group of students to serve as a prayer team -- to make cards and pray for people at the facility.
The VIPs had been divided into groups ahead of time but when we showed up at the shelter, we discovered some of our plans couldn't happen for various reasons. For example, it was too hot for the kids to work in the area to sort many of the donations. So, we offered the kids some options about what to do, telling them "You don't need to do something that you're uncomfortable with" but I also reminded them about the message they had heard the previous day from Abel at Holston Home. He talked about how God often trusts us with little things, so that as we prove our trustworthiness, we're given greater responsibilities. Abel talked about listening to God, and saying "Yes" even when it was not exactly what you wanted to do. A significant number of VIPs elected to be on the Prayer Team. Others headed to the kitchen, to make cards, and to sort donated items in a cooler part of the building.
When the kids returned to the Chapel, the largest of the two Prayer Teams was last to return. Brie walked through the door first and said to me, "Wow, that was really amazing." As the kids filed in, Michael was in tears, Justin looked exhausted, Morgan's perfectly-applied mascara was gone. As I looked at these students - some of the choir's oldest, most responsible, most mature, most experienced singers - and the rest of the kids who had been with them, it was clear that something had occurred. "What happened?" I asked Brie. I asked the kids. They had prayed over empty beds for more than an hour, asking God to work in the lives of the people who would occupy them that evening. As the kids moved through the Mission, the Holy Spirit moved through them, touching their hearts, bringing them to tears, and moving them in a way that I've never seen.
The VIPs rallied through their Chapel performance and delivered fantastic, energetic, heart-warming, God-focused music. We returned to the hotel for dinner (Chinese!) and a looooooong time of sharing and devo as the kids de-briefed on their days. We've never had a Tour day like this one, and we may never have one again. It was exciting and exhilarating for the kids to feel God in such a powerful way. I think they felt it, too -- the students decided to hold a bible study at 6:30am (6:30am!) the next day. Sure enough, a large group was gathered in the lobby to continue seeking God.