Tab Youth Chorus goes Down Under
by Robert Gregg –
We’ve all been asked, “What has this experience taught you?” As a member of the Pasadena Tabernacle Youth Chorus, I learned two things while on our recent tour of New Zealand and Australia: the first is that you should never play rugby against a Tongan. The second is that the Holy Spirit is alive, well, and powerful “down under.”
Our group participated in the New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territorial youth congress, “Make Change,” with over 700 other delegates from the Australia West, Australia South, and New Zealand, Fiji, and Tonga territories along with a small contingent from the U.S. From the very first night these people showed not only that they were excited to be followers of Christ, but also that they were proud of their affiliation with The Salvation Army—they were truly Salvationists.
These charismatic people welcomed us to partake of all that the congress had to offer, including workshops on our duty and calling as Christians. We received the tools and encouragement to live for Christ and to take what we learned back home. Inspiring us to “make change,” Major Lyndon “Bucko” Buckingham simply asked, “If no one else is changing our world . . . why don’t you?”
The congress culminated for us on Thursday night when the Canadian guest speaker, Michael Collins, challenged everyone with a call to arms for Christ. He reminded us that we are part of an army, and that it is the duty of an army to fight. Our enemy is tough and determined and some of us may fall in the fight, but ultimately the outcome is already decided and we will win with Jesus as our captain.
Fueled by these moving words, the youth chorus moved to our concert venue. That concert was the most incredible experience I’ve ever witnessed. When we started to sing the room was packed to capacity with many people refused entrance (including the TYS and Collins himself). Screens had to be set up in the lobby to accommodate the overflow.
The presence of the Holy Spirit was nearly palpable that evening. Words are insufficient to capture the real feeling and the power of that concert. “Where two or more are gathered in his name…” He was in the room that night, of that I am certain.
Later, the youth chorus continued on to Melbourne, Australia, where we sang at the Waverly Corps and at an open air venue. We competed with a local bar that kept turning up their music, as well as the sights and sounds of the Australian Open, but after the concert a few of the young people in our group went out into the crowd and shared their faith.
The time we spent in New Zealand and Australia was eye opening and exciting—a true blessing. Individually each of us came back changed, and even the group itself changed and became more of what I think God wants us to be.
“When we left we were a collection of small groups of people all with our own plans and agendas,” said youth chorus member Travis Yardley. “But while we were there we became a whole and unified groupwe are now the tightest we have ever been.”