Meet my friends, Paul and Judi. Paul goes by Pablo. Judi goes by Judi. I call them Pb & J. :)
They have been in Spain around 8 years now, I believe. I met them during my first few weeks in Granada. We met through mutual friends and we have been pals ever since!
They are fellow believers and workers for the Lord. We share a meal together once a week and it's always encouraging to be with them as well as a delicious way to spend time together!
Pablo teaches English in a school nearby and Judi tutors a few people in English as well.
Pb & J are also members of a couple of different choirs in Granada. They both sing very well and have been able to converse with numerous people about Christ by being part of these groups. One of the choirs is a Gospel Choir. The interesting thing is this: Pablo and Judi are the only Jesus-followers in that choir. The rest are non-practicing Catholics, atheists, and agnostics.
A few weeks ago Pb & J invited me and my teammate, Gaby, to one of their concerts. It was a great performance and we had a wonderful evening. Afterwards we went out for shawarmas.
But it was definitely an experience that provoked many feelings and emotions throughout the evening. I'll just share a few:
During the concert we heard some traditional gospel songs and old spirituals, as well as some songs made even more famous by Sister Act I. (I Will Follow You, O Happy Day, etc.) I was pleasantly surprised to see that our Pablo had arranged some of the songs and even directed a few! He also had a couple of solos! We were proud of him and Judi.
The majority of the songs were in english, which meant that the majority of the listeners didn't understand what the choir was singing. At one point during the concert, on one of the really upbeat songs, the choir director turns to the audience and says something along the lines of "this song is for dancing, so everyone get up and dance!" The ambience of the theatre was electric! People were clapping along and smiling, filming with their cameras and laughing. At one point some older guy from the back yells, in english, "come on everybody!" and lots of people stood up to clap and sing along. I was stunned. Talking to Gaby later, she shared the same sentiment. Of course we were pleased with the songs and we could worship along with our hearts, knowing the God to whom we sang. But this was just a show for many people. The music was good, upbeat, their friends/family were singing well, etc. But Gaby said "I wonder... if they knew what the words were saying, would they still have been up on their feet dancing around?" Sadly, we doubted it. It was a mixture of emotions! We were like "YES! YES! YES! This is what it feels like to be in the Lord's presence and feel the freedom and joy that following Him allows!" But then on the other hand we were so sad because the spiritual oppression over Spain is heavy and dark.
At one point I said to Gaby: I feel like someone needs to go up and give their testimony! I want to go up and grab the microphone and tell them about Jesus! The Living Savior, the Hope of all nations.
My favorite part of the evening was when the choir sang a song called Every Praise, by Hezekiah Walker. Hezekiah's music video is below. The night of the concert, the choir performed this song EXACTLY as it is done in the video. The soloist is a young man who is a friend of Pb & J's whom I've met. He has a great voice and led the song beautifully. But he is not a believer. Not even close. However, during the song I was so moved because I was sitting in this theatre, surrounded by people who, most likely, have no relationship with God, and I was hearing words of praise to the Only True God! My eyes started tearing up and I found myself swallowing hard so as not to burst out crying! I looked over at Gaby and she had tears streaming down her face as well. We could see Judi in the choir with her hands raised in praise. We knew for sure that 4 of us in that theatre were praising God from the heart that night.
And so we pray for seeds. We pray that someone in that theatre would be moved deeply....more than what music can do, more than what lyrics can do. We pray that the Holy Spirit would move in the choir members' hearts so that they can have a true encounter with the One of whom they sing.
Keep up the good work, Pb & J.
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.