So here comes the “rest of the story.” Each year Chris Monroe would post on the discussion board that if you were interested in a possible mission trip to India to teach music to contact him. I have to admit, every time I would see those posts something inside me wondered if that was something God was actually asking me to do. Tami (my amazing wife) was also planning a missions trip to Uganda, Africa. She went in June of 2013 and I was SO proud of her for doing what God had asked even though it was hard. It was a challenge and inspiration to also be willing to follow the call if God would be gracious enough to ask me. This past February I saw a post from Chris again asking for people who might be interested in teaching in India. If a person had a masters or doctorate in music the college would consider providing a flight and room and board for the applicant. God just took all the arguments I could possibly make for not being a fit for the job. I emailed Chris which started, and I quote, “Just writing this email scares the snot out of me!” He assured me that I would be a great fit for the position and put me in contact with Abraham, one of the instructors at the college. It took us a while to find a time that would work but after several emails, it was finished. I booked a flight to Thiruvananthapuram for July 14th to August 8th.
Here is the last piece of the puzzle that assures me God is right smack dab in the middle of all this. “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is a hymn that originated from… you guessed it… India. This little chorus I have been drawn to all my life is actually a song from India. I have written not only a SATB version of this song but also a piano solo arrangement and a setting I use for congregational singing at church. It has such a simple and beautiful message. I wish I could say I knew the history of the song long before now but I have to admit, I never thought to do the research until it came so much to the forefront and prominent role in this whole adventure taking me to India.
Here is the story. The lyrics are based on the last words of an unknown man in Assam, India. In the middle of the 19th century he and his family had decided to follow Jesus due to the efforts of a Welsh missionary. The village chief called the man to renounce his faith and he declared “I have decided to follow Jesus.” His family was threatened and his reply was “though no one joins me, still I will follow.” His wife was killed and before he was executed he sang, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” This display of faith brought about the conversion of the chef and several others in the tribe.
So what seems to be a very simple song with easy to understand lyrics that was written over 150 years ago, has had a major impact on this guy born in 1965 right in the heart of the United States. I pray someday God will allow me to pen a song that will have a similar impact.
Coming up on the blog... the visa application process. I never thought it would be a story worth telling but...
Until next time!
This blog will journal my experiences as I prepare to go overseas this July and teach at the Asian Christian College of Music in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in India.