That’s what Danny tells our guitar class each Tuesday night as we sit in a cozy circle in the International Baptist Center.
Our guitar class is different than most. It’s free- for all people, of all ages, from all cultural backgrounds. I joined the group when I got here a few weeks ago and have been so blessed to get to know Cake, Paul, Sissy, Diana, Renee, and many others through playing music with them.
The unique thing about music is that you don’t necessarily need to speak the same language in order to communicate with it. Music transcends all language and cultural barriers. The melody is the same, whether you speak Chinese, French, or English. The notes are the same. The chords are the same. The sheet music can be read by any musician in any part of the world.
Music is a gift from God that allows us to connect with people that we don’t think we have much in common with. I have seen this much in our Tuesday night class.
For me, it has been such a blessing to watch these students learn to play guitar. The way they learn is through playing songs such as “I have decided to follow Jesus,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Blessed Be Your Name.”
The majority of them are not believers, but through these songs, they are learning more about who Jesus is.
During the class this week, we were all sitting around the office and through the open window I could see a beautiful view of Diamond Head Mountain with the sun setting over the city of Honolulu. I paused for a moment and listened as my sweet Chinese friends sang, “Beautiful One I love, Beautiful One I adore, Beautiful One my soul must sing!” Some of the guitars were way out of tune and each friend strummed to a different beat, but it was a beautiful sound to my ears.
My eyes welled up with tears and I couldn’t help but praise God, not only for His beautiful creation, but for the beautiful work He is doing in the lives of my friends.
I was able to talk to Sissy yesterday afternoon and she had some questions about the lyrics of some of the songs we have learned. She asked me to explain the verses of “Amazing Grace.” First of all, I had a harsh reality check because I really had to think about the verses before I explained it to her. I wonder how many dozens of times I have sung that song without thinking twice about the meanings behind the words.
The same thing happened when she asked me to explain “Blessed Be Your Name.” Yes, the song is fun and upbeat, but when I was analyzing the words to explain to Sissy, I realized that the song is intense: “Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering blessed be your name.” This song is saying that even when life is tough and we experience pain and suffering, we still praise Him!
I had to say goodbye to Sissy yesterday. She is leaving for China in a few days. She didn’t accept Christ, but she said she thinks she will believe one day, it will just take time. I long for her to experience the love of Christ. Through our conversations, I learned how much she wants to know Him and she is gradually coming to understand that she doesn’t need to have it all together before she becomes a Christian.
God is teaching me every day. He is showing me that He works in ALL things.
Even through an old guitar that is out of tune.
(Cake, Sissy, Danny, Paul, Renee, me, Randy and Diana)