Thank you for your prayers for the Congo Prayer Conference. It was a truly unique experience for me. As I had anticipated, it was a lot of work and it consumed a lot of time; however, the Lord answered my prayers and gave me joy to be a part of it despite the workload. Now, I am sick with a cold that was probably due to the stress of all that work, but God is good!
My role in the conference, besides helping to coordinate the music and technical needs, was to be a bit of a freak show. According to my African friends, God has blessed me with the unusual ability to sing in various African languages with no apparent accent. I have also spent time learning how to play the guitar in a Congolese style and was able to hold my own playing with the other African musicians. So, all the conference attendees were quite amused with this white boy ("mzungu" as they say in Swahili) who would sing and play like he was born and raised in the Congo. At one point, Sarah told me there was an audible chatter and snickering from the audience after I sang a particularly fast phrase in Kikongo.
What is the secret to my success? Leon Mukendi says that I posses the gift of tongues. I don't know about that, but I do know that the Holy Spirit has captured my heart to serve the Lord in a particular time and place and in particular ways. As the music director of a multi-lingual church, I have a calling to pursue the proper pronunciation and stylistic interpretation of the music from our unique cultures. That means that to show love to the Congolese, Kenyan, Liberian, Nigerian, Zambian, Togolese or whomever I need to actively pursue understanding their music better. It's like marriage; I have a calling to pursue my wife by getting to know everything about her.
So, it was not an accident that I can play and sing certain types of African music. During the past two years since I took this job, I have spent time listening to and analyzing recordings. I have observed how the music is performed by the Africans in our church. I have asked questions and asked for constructive criticism from them. I spent time searching on Google, Amazon, or AMG terms like "Congolese music" or "African guitar," and found recordings or text on the subject. My motivation was not a particular affection for African music, but rather a particular affection for the African people in our congregation.
Was Leon correct that it is some kind of spiritual gift? Of course! The same Holy Spirit that gifts a pastor to work at composing a sermon or gifts a deacon in the active work of mercy gave me the calling, the talent, and the motivation to do this special service to the Africans in our church. Praise the Lord!
Special Note-When I looked up "Mzungu" in the Swahili-English dictionary it can mean "white person" but it can also mean "something baffling" or an "ability, marvel, or feat"