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A Note About Missions

As I settle into seat 35A on the American Airlines flight home from Germany, I reflect upon the week’s activities. To say they were a blessing from His hand to my heart would be an understatement. The goodness of God was evident. I could see it; I could even taste it as I participated in His work across national borders and cultural lines. Russian-Germans, Americans, and Ukrainians joined together to share their gifts of music glorifying God. Professional musicians, orchestra conductors, recording artists, choir directors, and volunteer musicians like me comprised our orchestra of fifty strong.

There were times I felt small. Many times. What was I thinking when I signed up? Who do I think I am to play with such gifted musicians? This is a big deal. I don’t belong here! The enemy aimed his arrows right at my trigger points.

I was the only pianist. That is, except for the conductor who composed almost half of the music we played! Richard Kingsmore stepped off the conductor stand several times to accompany his wife and other German vocalists.  As I slid off the piano bench for Richard Kingsmore, a sense of humility and honor mixed with relief and awe filled my being.

I reminded myself that God was the One who brought me here. Camp Kirkland, founder of Global Missions Project, visited our church some time ago during a music event. We engaged in conversation about the GMP, which ignited a spark, but God fueled the flame. After all, He’s the one who gave me the talent to play the piano.

I have played for over fifty years, but somehow doubt found its way into my fingers. The rhythm in the introduction of one song was tricky, as was the repeat and D.S. al Coda of another song. The jazz sequence in the closing piece freaked me out, with piano solo measures thrown in throughout a significant portion.

I had to push through all that stuff. I was here to perform a task. I was here in obedience to the call of missions. Jazz measure 42 could be conquered. Confidence in the rhythm of the introduction could be gained, and careful counting would remedy the Coda issue. By mid-week, I was laying down glissandos and throwing in high octaves while swaying my head to the beat!

As I pause to reflect, I am filled with emotion, brimming with gratitude and joy, feeling honored to have been chosen, thrilled at having accomplished the task with success, and anticipating the next mission trip.

My Story, Others Story

That is my story, but everyone had a story. There was the smiling bass player who came dangerously close to hopping on an early flight home because Satan was telling him he wasn’t good enough. The solo trumpet and flute player learned on Day 1 that he had been exposed to COVID just before leaving and might have to drop out. (Thank goodness he didn’t.) The sweet 82-year-old saxophone player from Louisiana injured her eye on the mouthpiece of her instrument and later fell flat on her face while crossing the street. She went home bruised and battered but satisfied with her ministry. Our talented drummer (and my roommate) kept us laughing with her light-hearted antics and staged photos. She shared with the group how she accidentally discovered Global Missions Project. The doctor said she would be in a wheelchair within five years due to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. That was nine jazz tours and fifteen years ago! As for the Ukrainian cellist, saxophone player, and clarinetist, who could possibly know what sadness was hidden in their hearts?

Regardless of our stories, each of us was there for one purpose – to share the gospel through the music. We were the Celebration Orchestra, an entity of the Global Missions Project (www.globalmissionsproject.com). Jazz bands, orchestras, and church choirs travel worldwide to share their music through GMP. Participants either pay their way or seek out willing donors.

Ten Blessings

My roommate Kathy and I

This was my first blessing. I was surprised at the outpouring of financial support. Friends and family eagerly came alongside my mission effort. Second, God imparted peace into a tense situation with plane complications and missed flights. My arrival in Germany was a day late, causing me to miss the only rehearsal with the orchestra. I was plunged into the first performance without rehearsing, but it went well. Third, I arrived at 9 pm and met Kathy, my roommate, whom I did not know. I had prayed we would be compatible. The Lord not only gave me a delightful roommate, but He also gave me a lifelong friend. Fourth, I made numerous friendships with kindhearted, funny, ambitious people, some of whom had amazing life experiences.

Blessing #5 was the country. Germany is lush, green, and beautiful. Quaint houses and buildings dot the picturesque landscape not just here and there but everywhere. The German people were welcoming and friendly, always eager to make everything perfect—blessing #6.

The food. Oh, my stars. Blessing #7. I’ve never seen such beautiful salads. I cleaned my plate of every German crumb.

The cohesiveness and harmony within our group boast blessing #8. Although we were a blend of global nationalities, we developed uncanny unity. Camp Kirkland, international composer/orchestrator, who was on the trip, said, “Do you know why we bond so quickly as we do as an orchestra? Because we have to! We have to because we don’t have time.”

Concerts correlated with the gospel story of peace – why we need it, where it can be found, how to get it, and what results from it. Some were moved to tears; others listened with great interest, but all were blessed—blessing #9.

I learned that missions is not only about people in third-world countries. Everyone needs to hear the gospel. Of course, this is something I know, but to experience it made the reality of it linger in my heart and mind—blessing #10. My first Global Missions Project trip, and certainly not my last, was a gift filled with God’s blessings and grace.

Karen Allen

8 Comments

  1. J.D. Wininger on July 1, 2022 at 1:07 pm

    I couldn’t help but break out in a chorus of “Count your blessings; name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God hath done!” as I was smiling throughout your post ma’am. I’m glad you’re home safely of course, but am overjoyed at the blessed experience you were able to bless others through.

    • Karen Allen on July 1, 2022 at 3:28 pm

      I guess I did enumerate some of those blessings and name them one by one, didn’t I? I am amazed at times where my musical talents take me. There’s a reason it is called the universal language. Germany was a wonderful trip with a different focus than Honduras, which focuses on health needs. Both have a purpose, and I shall continue to serve in various capacities as long as the Lord leads.

  2. Margaret Cox on July 1, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    Karen, I loved reading this!!!!!!
    What a wonderful, amazing experience!!!

    • Karen Allen on July 2, 2022 at 10:53 am

      Totally! You should give it a try with your skills. You would love it.

  3. Susan on July 2, 2022 at 8:28 am

    Karen, I can so relate with everything you wrote about our trip. It was an absolute blessing. Reading your blog post excites me about wanting to plan my next trip. Very thankful God allowed us to be on this trip together as I have made another lifetime friend in you.

    • Karen Allen on July 2, 2022 at 10:52 am

      Thank you so much for your comment, Susan. I loved getting to know you (and also learn some things about social media.) You are such a joy. I am thankful to God to make a new lifelong friend in you as well. I know you will have a great GMP trip to Hungary. Can’t wait for our next one either!

  4. David E Luellen on July 5, 2022 at 3:06 pm

    What joy to read about God’s amazing plan for you in Germany!

    Also glad to see/hear you back at the MBBC console!

    • Karen Allen on July 6, 2022 at 2:12 pm

      Germany was fun but there’s nothing like home sweet home!

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