Oregon Adventist Men's Chorus
Three years after we were originally scheduled to go to Ukraine, OAMC showed up in Kiev! Some 60 singers, spouses and staff arrived at the seminary at Bucha around June 5 to begin a two-week journey around the country. What did we expect? We have learned not to expect, but to be open to Gods leading. What happened? A bus blew up. A mayor scheduled a parade to block the road to our concert hall, and then scheduled an outdoor concert on the plaza to drown out our music. Military checkpoints every few miles reminded us that we were near a war zone. None of it mattered. He who was with us was certainly stronger than any who were against us. Nearly every concert was standing room only. As wonderful as that was, reports coming to us after the trip are that several people who came to the concerts have attended Bible studies and other church-sponsored activities. For the rest of the story, stay tuned as we are building a report with photos.
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It's hardly a news flash to say that "God cares." I'm sure we all know that, although at times so many challenges come our way that we can almost lose sight of that fact. When I think back on God's activity with OAMC I see clear reminders of His care and His love and mercy to us. Let me share with you some of those reminders. As most of you are aware, there is no organization that has a line item in their budget that says, "Oregon Adventist Men's Chorus." The great majority of the funds at our disposal come from the singers themselves; a bit from dues, but most to pay the expenses of a mission trip. A good portion of the money for our missions is raised by singers contacting relatives or friends. In the months leading up to one of our mission trips, we contact individuals and request their help with the mission. That type of assistance is invaluable to us, even though it is a relatively small portion of the whole needed. Before each of our mission trips, including our most recent mission to Romania, I experience a degree of alarm as the departure date nears and the numbers on paper seem far too small to accomplish all that is needed. Certainly recalling God's provision for our previous missions calms my anxiety a bit, but I do seem to struggle with the "what if" questions relating to running out of money with 50+ people in a foreign country! In response to the consistent prayers of many of you, as well as our counterparts in Romania, we again had sufficient funds to accomplish all that God had for us to do! God cares! A related worry is whether there will be sufficient singers to form a full "enough" chorus for our mission. With the economy making it even more challenging than usual for us to raise the needed funds, our US contingent was, indeed, smaller last September (53 singers) than it was in 2009. It was very much the same for our friends in Romania, South Africa and elsewhere. As those of you who were in Romania last summer will remember, we had the perfect number of singers for the venues where we sang. Each stage was full--and few could have accommodated any additional singers or orchestra members! I was amazed as I watched our group exactly fit the stage time and again. God cares! One of the goals of the Advance Team last summer was to get SIM cards that would give us working cell phones. After purchasing SIM cards we still had one cell phone that would not work. Marius (our Romanian friend from Spain) went with Donna and me to the phone store to see if the problem could be resolved. Somehow we forgot to take the receipt with us and Marius was certain we would get no help without it. Not knowing what else to do, Donna said, "I wish we had the receipt, but we'll pray about it and it will be fine." Marius was unconvinced. At the store the clerk could not have been more helpful, even if we'd had the receipt. He very patiently worked with the cell phone until, at last,it worked perfectly. Prayer works. God cares! One of the blessings of our recent mission trip was the Prayer Book which the Prayer Team prepared for our use. Every day there was a text to read, plus a specific person or group to pray for especially that day. On the red bus our driver was very positively impressed with prayers aloud on the bus. After a week or so, he was impressed to stop smoking, which he began immediately. That was a surprise since, of course, no one had said a word to him about his smoking! Near the end of our tour, that driver phoned his wife and learned that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Naturally, he was quite upset, and asked that we pray for her, which we were glad to do. After the tour Alin Apostle met with the driver, and invited him and his wife to a meal at his family's restaurant. During that meal Alin's mother told her experience of being prayed for during the '09 tour when she had cancer--and later being fully healed! She encouraged the driver to take his wife to the doctor who had seen her years before. Alin took the driver and his wife to that doctor. After examining the wife, the doctor said she had no cancer at all! This couple is continuing to meet with Alin, for Bible study and to learn more about eating more healthfully. God cares! Before leaving for Romania, an email was sent out asking those of you who could not go to Romania to consider a financial gift to enable young men in Romania to join the tour. Many of you responded to that request and, as a result, eleven additional Romanian young men were able to be part of that incredibly meaningful experience, as well as several orchestra members. Your thoughtful giving, as well as your supportive prayers, made a tangible difference in the lives of those individuals. (See and hear impromptu singing of such young men whose participation the mission was made possible by your generous donations.) Alin told us of several choir members and also instrumentalists in the orchestra who were profoundly influenced by their participation in the 2014 Mission to Romania--and that refers only to the ones we are aware of. Surely the Lord knows each one who was blessed, and exactly how. God cares! Prayer was a crucial ingredient to the success of this mission, not only before we left, but also while we were on the tour. Corleen Johnson tells the story of a woman who worked at one of the venues who happened to be in the room where they planned to pray just before the concert. The woman was asked if she was a Christian and replied, "Yes." Then they managed to explain that they were going to have a prayer time--and would she like to join them! She did join in the prayer time--after asking for special prayer for a family member. That woman clearly did not just "happen" to be in that place that evening. God placed her there for the blessing she needed! God cares! Now the Mission to Romania is in the past and we're all home--dealing with the challenges of daily living. May these mission experiences remind you of the reality that still, today, God cares--for you!
In 1994, our vision was 20 singing men...
God's vision was 112 within six months, and 250 on stage less than 10 years later.
In 1995, our vision was one Festival of Praise, and we wondered if anyone would come to hear us...
God's vision was yearly festivals and other events, with an audience that quickly outgrew our original location.
We said, "This group can't travel...
God's vision included singing the "Four Hymns of the Second Coming" for 55,000 in Toronto, Canada, in Swahili with our African brothers in Mwanza, Tanzania, and in Romanian with over 100 of our brothers in a two-week tour of their country.
We thought the spirit of the chorus was commitment, enthusiasm, joy and praise.
God's spirit is also teaching us tenderness, compassion, inclusion, and love.
We thought our purpose was to provide an opportunity for Christian men to make music and worship together.
God's purpose was to change our lives.
We pray that our music will change your life, too.