Thursday, April 24, 2008


Below is a letter from our cousin Josh who just went to Africa with his local church body on a Horizon International trip. A compelling life or death message scribed wonderfully...

Dear Friends and family,

As I sit here and reflect on my trip to Africa, I am at once overwhelmed with great joy and great sorrow. I find this contrast very fitting for Africa, because Africa itself is a country of extreme contrasts. The natural beauty of her vast plains, sweeping mountains, and diverse wildlife; stood in stark contrast to the devastation HIV/ AIDS has had on her people. The joyful expressions on the faces of the orphans we played with, stood in stark contrast to their crushing poverty and tin shack homes.

As we drove through the broken down villages with kids playing barefoot in trash filled streets, my heart was filled with mercy for them; but also a weird mix of thankfulness and anger for all the things I have filled my life with. Anger because I have so much wealth and opportunity simply because of where I was born, and I too often squander it while these underprivileged people have next to nothing. Thankfulness because I have been given so much; I have a good job, food to eat, a loving family, a nice car, a home, and too many blessings to name. This trip has taught me to live more gratefully, generously, and to try and not get sucked into the consumerist mind set that is so prevalent in our culture. The reality is I had no control over where I was born, just as the precious orphans in Africa had no control over where they were born. The only thing I can control is how I will live my life in view of the incredible wealth, privilege, and opportunity I have available to me here in the US. I want to live a life that is full of gratitude, committed to serving those less fortunate and loving God.

I also had the opportunity to meet the child that Jami and I support through the wonderful organization Horizon International. Johannes was a quiet and shy little kid. At first I felt as if he were intimidated by me. But now I just think that because of his life’s circumstances, he was very unaccustomed to receiving any kind of attention or love. His face lit up on the last day of our camp when I gave him a picture of Jami and I, and one of my old harmonicas. It was a very cool experience, and I am humbled to be able to affect a child’s life half way around the world.

As a worship leader, this trip has taught me a great deal about worship. It was awe-inspiring to be dancing, playing drums and singing praises to God with my African brothers and sisters in Christ. Here are children whose parents died and left them alone to raise their siblings and figure out a way to survive; despite their present circumstances, they were smiling and joyfully worshipping Jesus Christ! Africa taught me that real worship starts with a thankful heart that recognizes what Jesus Christ has done for us. Too often we get caught up in debates over musical style, Contemporary, Traditional, Post-modern, Emerging, A Capella; we are missing the point. Worship is about hearts not instruments.

3 years ago I wrote a worship song that was stylistically influenced by African beats and music. I never played it for anyone, I never even named it. As we were preparing for this trip I remembered the song, and played it for the team, they liked it and we agreed that it would be cool to come up with some "dance moves" for the song and teach it to the orphans. We played the song for everyone at each of our camps, even for the hotel staff! As we were leaving Matipane village after doing a short program for the orphans there, a small group of students gathered at the entrance to the village to see us off. As we were driving past them they were dancing and waving and singing. I stood up to stick my head out the window, and to my astonishment they were singing my song back to us. I tell you there is no feeling like that of hearing someone sing one of your songs; it means that they have connected with something you created from within yourself, so in a very real sense we were connected in that little moment we shared. God once again revealed another piece of Himself through music and those children to me, that moment will be one of the most cherished memories of my life. By the way, I named the song Thabile, which is the Zutu word for Rejoice.

I can’t thank you enough for your support for me and this trip to South Africa. It was life changing, life challenging, and life affirming. Know that God is working in the desperate HIV/ AIDS pandemic that is devastating Africa, also understand that He wants to use people like you and me to help change the world. I can’t encourage you enough to look into helping those less fortunate; a great place to start is Horizon International. Please visit their website by clicking here.

We often ask, "What can I do?" The answer is… something, is better than nothing. Even the smallest gesture can make a huge difference.

Thank you again.
With Love,
Josh Cecil

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love."
-Mother Teresa

1 comment:

The Amsler Family said...

Love it Love it Love it, I can't wait to go and meet our kids!

Praise God