“Pose like your favorite jungle animal!” the photographer said to us.
It was at least 90 degrees. We had all just met. We came from places like Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Canada. We all came from incredibly different backgrounds and experiences. But there we were, acting like monkeys, giraffes, lions and crocodiles. We were Team Guatemala 2012.
Working with CTI Music Ministries was the most life-impacting thing that has happened in my short (almost) nineteen years of life. If it wasn’t for CTI I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s where I learned how to wrap cables. It’s where I learned things like the difference between a monitor and an amp. It’s where I learned good stage presence. It’s where I learned how to transition between songs, whether verbally or musically. It’s where I learned how to effectively plan a worship set. It’s where I learned how to share my testimony.
Before CTI I had only worked with my school and my church’s praise teams. They were fine, don’t get me wrong, but at CTI I was able to work very hard at musically perfecting sixteen or so songs instead of plowing through a set an hour before worship. They taught me how to pursue musical excellence. CTI taught me so many skills that I am incredibly grateful for. Honestly if it wasn’t for the summer with them, I probably wouldn’t have made a team here at Dordt, and I wouldn’t have realized (at least not as quickly) that worship leading is a huge passion of mine. But the most important thing that CTI taught me is that I am a servant first and a musician second.
I have learned not to walk into a venue thinking “We’re the band. They need to cater to my needs.” My job as a worship leader is to help usher people into the presence of God. My goal is that when people look at me, they don’t see me; I want them to see Christ shine through me. This is not only through music. I want to be a serve. I want to do ministry on and off the stage. I want to be a light of Christ no matter where I go, not just when my fingers are on the keys or when a microphone is in front of my face. When all the lights turn off, the coils are wrapped, and all the monitors are in their cases, I want people to still be lead to Christ.
I went into CTI with a very selfish heart. I wanted to be on a big stage with good musicians in a foreign country. I did that, and don’t get me wrong . . . playing music every day in Guatemala was AMAZING. But what I learned was far more than how to be a good musician in a foreign country. What I learned is that God hasn’t called me to be some pop-star celebrity that goes on tour; God called me to use my gifts that He gave me to advance the kingdom.
Two years ago I started an incredible journey, one that has left a huge mark on my heart. I’m so thankful for all of the crazy jungle animals I got to work with that summer. If it wasn’t for them, I have no idea what my life would look like today.