Jason Dilday said this the first day we arrived in Portland, Oregon, and it stuck with me because I was struck with how much humility in a leader it takes to admit that they are learning with the students they are leading.
I think the same applies to missionaries. Long term or short term, it can become so easy for us to believe in our hearts that we are going on this trip solely to bless others and teach others. Even when we say we are going on this trip to be impacted by God, it is so easy to fall into this, which is not a bad thing or a sin by any means, simply a mistaken belief. And I was mistaken.
It was the last night in Portland, and we were leading worship at the youth gathering for Westside - A Jesus Church. That day was long, and we were all tired and trying to regain enough energy to make it through the night. We started the night off with prayer over the service and worship with the volunteers of the night, and then jumped out into the crowd of middle and high schoolers. After hanging with them for a bit we headed in and began the night, and as soon as we started, God provided us with the energy to worship Him in truth and earnestness. We felt Joy and a wild desire for pursuit from The God of the universe, and worshiped our hearts out. The very last song came up, and Ryan, our former high school worship pastor who was now a worship pastor at westside, jumped up on stage and sang Our Hope Is Alive.
That was the first song I had ever played in the worship band at southeast, and it was actually with Ryan leading it. That was also the first song I ever lead worship with. And now, it’s the last song I am going to play with him for a long time. And as soon as we finished, a realization hit me harder than a truck.
Over the past four years of singing and playing that song, I have been poured into and developed as a musician, and as a person by him and two other individuals. Ryan, Jordan (one of the trip leaders), and Jeff (a previous music director that has since moved out to a church in Atlanta to be a music director for them) have built me up, given me courage when I had none, given me advice when I needed it (whether or not I asked for it) and have given me something for the past four years of high school they can never get back. Their time. Whether they would ever be repaid for it or not, they poured into me without hesitation, and because of it I am a better person today than I was when I played Our Hope Is Alive for the first time with Ryan Post four years ago.
The realization of all of these blessings in my life and the grace that God has to give them to me brought me into a backroom crying my eyes out. It was signifying the end of a season of life for me. A long, and difficult one, but one filled with incredible people and incredible blessings from a God that gives me more grace than I deserve. And because of that, I got closure for this season of life that I did not even know I needed. And now I have courage to go on, not knowing where I will end up or where God will take me, but not fearing the unknown. Simply because that night was when those words I had been singing for four years became so much more real to me than they ever had been. That our hope is alive.