Saturday, August 23, 2014

Love and fellowship through guitars

Guitar ensemble visits Germany over winter break

WORSHIP WITHOUT BARRIERS — The Liberty Guitar Ensemble was able to worship with German youth using popular worship songs.

While Liberty faculty and students were preparing for exams at the end of the Fall semester, the guitar ensemble traveled to perform in churches all over the country of Germany.

Ten students and four faculty members from the Center for Worship left Lynchburg on Dec. 7 and returned on Dec. 20. In 12 days the guitar ensemble performed 14 concerts in order to raise funds for the Bible Missions International, an organization that works with orphanages and plants churches in various countries including Moldova and Kazakhstan.

“They wanted us to take a group and visit some churches and try to raise some funds and get more support for their projects in Germany,” assistant professor of Voice and Guitar Leon Neto said.

Dr. Vernon Whaley, who has traveled to work with Bible Missions International several times in the past, approached Neto last year about the idea to go to Germany.

Since the guitar ensemble performs with a more classical style, it would fit well in the more traditional, Mennonite churches where they are not as accustomed to more contemporary music.

“We started to select new students and Christmas repertoire, and we started to move in that direction,” Neto said.

In the winter and every Christmas, Bible Missions International spends most of the season raising support since the weather is so cold, and they like to bring groups such as the guitar ensemble with them to churches to help raise that support.

In the churches that the guitar ensemble visited, there were youth groups that had more college-aged members, so it was easier for the performers to connect with them.

“My favorite part of the trip were the times after our performances that we had the opportunities to sing worship songs with some of the German youth,” senior Jared Groenewegen. “Many of the popular songs there are American songs, so we knew many of the same songs, and it was just wonderful to have somewhat of a language barrier yet be able to worship together.”

The guitar ensemble made a CD, Acoustic Christmas, prior to its departure.

The CD featured nine recorded Christmas songs, which they brought and distributed in the churches in Germany.

They accepted donations for the CDs.

“The churches were great, and they embraced us with love and fellowship,” Neto said. “After every performance, we went to a fellowship hall, so we could have coffee and eat wonderful German food. German chocolates are the best in the world.”

“I loved seeing the love of Christ shine from many of the German Christians that we met, as they were so welcoming toward us,” Groenewegen said.

There is talk of the guitar ensemble taking more similar trips in the future to work with the Bible Missions International.

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