“They locked me up for preaching Jesus at the university…”
“The jailers set us free because our prayers and preaching started a revival among the other prisoners and some of the guards…”
“We each had one page of the bible. No one had all of it. We met as often as we could, in secret, to trade pages…”
“They burned me here…and here…and here…”
I felt like a child at the adult table that night. Eating Chinese food in Ethiopia, in a basement restaurant where Christians once worshiped in hiding.
We gathered to worship again. Now in the open.
We sang. Stories were told. Sesame chicken was passed. The bible was read.
I drank up the stories poured out by these men and women who’d done more than weather years of persecution at the hands of the Communists – they’d prospered. When the curtain came up the doors of their churches were unchained once again and there was not enough room in them to hold all the converts made underground.
I turned to the elderly pastor sitting beside me and with the best intentions I offered all I had. “I’m a musician. When I get home could I gather up some worship CDs and send you a big box of them? Maybe your church could sing some of the songs? Would that be OK?”
A smile pierced through his black skin. His hand came to rest on mine.
“We know your music,” he said. “And it’s good music. But it hasn’t been where we’ve been.”
I went to bed that night in Addis Ababa replaying his words. I thought through the thirty-one songs I’d recorded over the years.
Have any of them come from the places they’ve been?
Prison breaking perseverance?
Gratitude with little?
Yesterday an interviewer asked me what inspired the songs I’ll be recording in April. “It all started in an Ethiopian Chinese restaurant…”
Aching to get these songs out and onto silicon. Recording starts April 18. Thank you for all your support so far. Prayers still very appreciated.