Keller (Texas) First UMC's Music Ministry to SlovakiaBy Charlotte Hill
October 28, 2005
In July 2005 a mission team from First United Methodist Church of Keller, Texas, went to Slovakia to join their partner church in Trnava for a music ministry throughout the country. In nine days the Slovak-American team performed fourteen times in churches, town squares, and culture halls. This is part of their story.
"Here I am to worship; Here I am to bow down; Here I am to say that you're my God."
Our mission team went to Slovakia to join musicians from our partner church in Trnava. Together we would travel to almost all the Methodist churches in Slovakia sharing our music ministry with those small congregations. Our plan was to encourage the churches, make them more visible in their communities, and help them evangelize. We accomplished all these things - and more. It was the "and more" that we will not forget.
In almost every church the sanctuary was completely filled. As our Slovak team members sang in English and Americans sang in Slovak we could see the excitement running through the crowd. People stood up, sang with us, clapped and raised hands and expressed their joy in this experience of Christian unity. We sang praise songs, American spirituals, Wesleyan hymns. All were sung in Slovak and English as we discovered that Christian music united us.
Older pastors with tears streaming down their faces, told about long years when this sharing would not have been allowed. The joy for them was especially sweet. People who heard us one day would drive to the next town the following day to join again in the experience. At our last presentation in Jenkovce, one of three Slovak Methodist churches to survive Communism, the people could not all fit in the sanctuary so some stood outside at the open windows to be part of the worship.
As John Wesley said, "The best of all is, God is with us". We came to Slovakia with a plan of encouraging Methodist congregations and instead we worshipped with them. We praised God by joining voices with our brothers and sisters, joyfully exulting in our common faith, and we felt the Holy Spirit in our midst.
At team meetings at the end of the day we shared our amazement over these worship experiences. After a few days of spirit-filled worship we began to be less surprised at this outpouring of God's love, but we never lost the joy of being a part of it. Each day was a Pentecost Day as we praised God in our own language and understood each other.
A mission trip is almost always an unexplainable experience. If you have been on a mission team you know that when you are asked "how was the trip?", you can never give an answer that expresses the full experience. This music mission trip may be harder to describe than others. We did not build a building. There was nothing visible we could point to and say "that was accomplished". We built relationships, but it was more than relationships. We worshiped together all over the country. We sang, they sang, and we shared the experience of the Holy Spirit. Day after day God was with us.