In the previous post, “Testimonies – The Buried Treasure We Need to Dig and Celebrate,” we talked about the many possible things that we can create from out of testimonies. The diagram below gives more details.
This post will provide an example of a testimony that inspired a music composition, which was then used as an invitation song during evangelistic convocations in a university.
The invitation to compose a theme song for an evangelistic convocation
In 1997, I was studying for my Theology degree at Central Philippine University, Iloilo City, when the university chaplain asked me to compose the theme song for the Christian Emphasis Week.
For those who don’t know, Central Philippine University (CPU) is a school that the American Baptist Missionaries founded in 1905. Part of CPU’s Christian ministry is the holding of the Christian Emphasis Week twice every school year.
The Christian Emphasis Week is a week-long holding of two daily convocations for students, faculty, and staff at all levels (Kindergarten, Primary, High School, University, and Graduate Studies). During the week, classes are shortened, and everyone, students, faculty, and staff, gathers at the university’s Rose Memorial Auditorium.
The congregation sings the theme song before the pastor speaks. Then towards the end, like any evangelistic meeting, the speaker extends an invitation to receive Jesus in their hearts. This is also the moment where the theme song is sung repeatedly until the invitation time stops.
The story behind the song, “You Are Not Alone”
So, I composed “You Are Not Alone”, both the music and lyrics for CPU’s Christian Emphasis Week.
“You Are Not Alone” was inspired by the story of a grandmother who suddenly lost her husband and was facing the reality of living alone. The first two stanzas of the song describe the situation.
Where is the sunshine?
You thought all your life were cloudy days
And you really want to know,
You wanted to be sure,
Does Jesus still care?
Where are the good times?
You’ve been walking through the narrow path
But now that you’re alone,
You wanted to be sure,
Is Jesus still with you?
Aren’t the questions mentioned in the stanzas the common questions we have before the Lord whenever something happens that is so unplanned and unexpected?
The song continues with some words of counsel based on Biblical truths.
You must count the cost
You must give your all
When you follow the Lord
Your faith will be tested
And when trials come
Be firm on your stand
You must live for the Lord!
You are not alone!
He’s walking by your side
And watching day and night
He loves you and me.
You are not alone!
Just trust with all your heart.
And keep Him in your mind,
He walks with you forever.
So, from out of a grandmother’s life situation, a song came out that the Christian Emphasis Week program of CPU used during the invitation time. The university had approximately 8,000 students in 1997.
Benefits of celebrating a testimony through a song
When the church engages in celebrating testimonies through a song, the following will be the obvious benefits:
- The local church will be able to use the song for pastoral ministry.
For example, “You Are Not Alone” was composed and used in 1997, but during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns in March 2019, my wife and I recorded and shared it online. The song gave encouragement and inspiration to our family, friends, and many other people who were going through the uncertainties of the pandemic.
- The congregation will have a beautiful reminder of the testimony and the message.
When the church sings the song created from a member’s testimony, they will be reminded of the faith lessons behind the song. The children and the young people will appreciate more the Biblical tenets taught when they sing about them.
- The local church creates an avenue for musical gifts to be recognised and developed.
I find it very limiting for a church to patronise more the music from commercial Christian artists or companies than their local composers and singers. It seems there is that subtle rejection and a telling message that local artists aren’t good enough.
- It will enhance the appreciation and participation in the church.
Imagine the impact of the church stepping up to create music from out of their members’ testimonies. One song can lead to many more ministry materials requiring more hands to create, like a music video, musical arrangements, singing, and many more.
- Music brings the local church from obscurity to visibility.
Discounting those who are members or near these churches, we first learned about Hillsong, Bethel, and Elevation churches through the music they produced and promoted. So, I can confidently say that the same will happen to your church.
It is my hope and prayer that the local church will be able to express concretly their appreciation of their member’s testimonies through a song.
PHOTO CREDIT: Rose Memorial Auditorium and University Church by Rea Faulan Villeza