University Singers share God's love in Nassau, Bahamas
God’s hand was clearly evident in the University Singers mission trip in May 2003. For over two years the group had been planning a trip to the island of Taiwan. Connecting with a missions organization by the name of Heart of God, intensive training sessions began in September 2002. Utilizing missionaries from Taiwan and various mission mobilization trainers from Heart of God, the University Singers underwent in-depth studies of Taiwan’s culture and region. The trainers also emphasized being prepared spiritually to be effective in sharing the gospel.
With the onset of the Iraq war, there were many concerns about international travel. After several intense meetings with on-field missionaries in Taiwan, it was determined that Taiwan was a safe place to visit. They are a very pro-American culture, and so the training proceeded.
In the spring, the SARS outbreak in China became public news. The mainland of China was quickly designated a ‘high risk’ area. Taiwan adopted safety measures to keep the disease off the island. Daily update calls were made by the group’s leader, Philip Miller, to monitor the situation. Each day the result was the same, Taiwan remained a safe place to visit. Three weeks before the departure date came the news that Taiwan believed that an outbreak of the disease had begun on the island. Within five days, the hospitals were quarantined and the island was declared a ‘high risk’ area.
The door to Taiwan slammed shut with only sixteen days to go. With the help of Howard Culbertson and David Alexander, Miller sent e-mails literally all over the world to see if someone could host a group coming in two weeks.
“I am still amazed at the responses that poured in from all over the globe. I truly believe we could have gone to about four different places. Ultimately, I chose Nassau, Bahamas, because they were well organized and quite capable of assisting a group in a short amount of time,” Miller said.
It was at this turning point that Mission Encounter, under the direction of Mike Shinn, stepped in and planned a trip for the University Singers.
The people of the Bahamas love music, so the University Singers were welcomed with open arms. Providing around 15 concerts in 9 days, the group sang in schools, churches, revival services, and outdoor venues. Several days the group split up into the classrooms of the schools. There they were able to share their testimonies on how the love of God has impacted their lives. Though these were public schools, they encouraged us to tell our testimonies and let the students hear what college life was like at SNU.
Some special events were singing at the orphanage and for the Haitian revival service. At the orphanage, the group sang for only a short time and then played with students for several hours. Many of the girls (and a few guys) had their hair braided by the children and many just let the kids sit on their laps and talk. God’s love flowed through the members of the group to these abandoned children. A young blind girl learned that night about Christ’s love for her and chose to follow Him!
Many of the Haitian people who are able to get off their island end up in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, they face discrimination by some of the Bahamian people. We had the privilege of singing for one of their revival services. They are a people alive with rhythmic music. The PR group “Witness” from SNU sang an upbeat song called ‘Shackles.’ That song had been playing on the local radio. As soon as they began, the crowd jumped to their feet and began dancing around the room. As the song ended, several local musicians jumped to their instruments, and without any music, began to play the song again. The three-minute song ‘Shackles’ suddenly became ten minutes.
What an incredible trip! Though disappointed that Taiwan was not an option, the group proceeded with a joyful heart to Nassau and spread the gospel all over the island.
Posted on Tue, July 15, 2003
by Philip Miller, Assistant Professor of Music