The WHY and HOW of ProjectWOW

IMG_0252PROJECT WOW, OR PROJECT WOMEN OF WORSHIP,
EXISTS TO PROVIDE A PLACE OF
CONVERSATION, COMMUNITY, AND RESOURCE
FOR WOMEN IN WORSHIP.


Earlier this year, I wrote a blog titled “Being a Female Worship Leader is Hard”. At the time that I wrote it, I was simply getting some things off my chest and at the same time providing a few resources for women who might be encountering the same difficulties. In the blog, I talked about being the first full-time female worship leader hired at my church. I talked about being the only woman in a department of all dudes. I talked about the lack of song selection available for female worship leaders vs. male worship leaders. But most importantly, I tried to provide resources to help counteract some of these things. I wanted to be a mentor from afar to any female worship leaders who might stumble onto this blog.

My heart has always been for women in worship. When I first stepped into the door of worship leading, I was blessed to have a male mentor who took me under his wings and started developing my skills. He saw potential in me and took the time to invest in that potential. Unfortunately, he couldn’t help me when I came with questions and struggles about being a female worship leader. I longed for a female mentor who could teach me her ways. But unless I was living in Australia with Darlene Zschech, I wasn’t going to find anyone around here. This generation is the first wave of prominent female worship leaders in the church. And so my passion has turned to leading others up, and being the female mentor that I never had.

As this year began to fly by, I kept getting emails and responses to my blog. Women from all over… Oregon, Kentucky, even Australia. The messages were unique but all the same… I AM GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING. The more responses I got, the more convicted I became about this project. I feel called to do this project, so much so that if I don’t do it, I will feel like I am being disobedient to God’s calling on my life. It pumps me up to know that I can be a help to other women in this way.

Before you hear a bit more about the project, take a look at this video…


As you can see, there is a need… there is a yearning for community and resource and mentorship. And as I began to realize that I was not the only one going through this, I began to brainstorm how I could remedy the need. And after much prayer and discussion and advice from many people that I respect, I came up with a plan… something practical that could provide a solution… DRUMROLL…

The plan of action is to create a website… a hub… a place where women can go to be empowered for service. As I mentioned before, ProjectWOW, or project women of worship, exists to provide conversation, community, and resource for women in worship. The three areas of conversation, community, and resource would be the main focus of the website.

IMG_0256So let’s start with CONVERSATION. This area of the website would be a place to talk about and bring up topics such as loneliness… dealing with insecurity… how to lead a team of all guys… how to gain buy-in from your congregation… etc. The conversation would be fueled by 2 things: a blog and Q&A. The blog would be written by myself and a few other women who have a heart to teach and encourage women in their journey as worship leaders. The readers of this blog would have a chance to respond and converse about the topics presented. The Q&A section would be a place where women can ask any question they want. The question would then be answered by a panel of trusted women in worship either through a direct message or in the form of a blog. Again this section would simply be a place to discuss… ask questions… and start conversation.

IMG_0257The next area of the website would be COMMUNITY. This area would be a place where women in worship can meet each other and begin to form relationship. On the website, women will have the opportunity to sign up to be in a WOWconnect Group. This group would be facilitated through google hangouts, and once a month women would be able to get together online to talk, encourage, and pray over each other… even if they are located across the country from one another. One of the things that I think is so beautiful about this is that women can connect with people outside of their own environment. It is a safe place, and it is a place where women can walk alongside each other in their journey. Love this section and I really believe it is going to create some beautiful new connections between women in worship ministry.

IMG_0258The third and final area of the website is RESOURCE. This by far is going to be the largest section and ironically will be the place that will require the most resource to create. It will have 3 sections, the first being: READ. This will be a place where we can post great books and articles for women to help them grow in their journey as a worship leader. Second: SING. This will be a place where we can point women to great songs and arrangements already meant for a female to lead in church… female-led songs such as Oceans or Revelation Song. Although mostly ballads, there are some really great songs out there already and I want to provide women with a place to find some of these great songs. And thirdly: TRANSPOSE. This is the section that I am most passionate about, but might be a bit more difficult to understand if you are not a musician. So put your musician hat on for a second. I’m going to give you a bit of a music lesson…

Because there are not a lot of female-led songs out there, female worship leaders have to take male led songs and transpose them to the appropriate key. For example… in the song Mighty to Save by Hillsong, the original range of the song is from E to E , but in order for women to comfortably sing the song, they have to move the range of the song from C to C. Unfortunately, many of the resources associated with those songs are only found in the male range which makes sense because the songs are written for guys. Now when I talk about the resources available, I am talking about a few things: the Recording (or the song itself), the Music Charts (which are not much of an issue because we now have programs that transpose music for us), and the Tracks to the songs (which are basically the instrument and vocal parts of the song).

Now to let you in on a little secret… at the weekend services at CCV, we actually use tracks when leading worship. So say we don’t have a second electric player on the team, we will actually play the second electric part through a program, and our band plays along with that track. Now you know!!! But unfortunately, if that song is originally in a guy key, the tracks are not available in the female key. Sometimes we are able to transpose, or slide the notes up to the new key, but it usually doesn’t have the same quality or professionalism in the sound. For example… This past weekend I led out on the song, Mighty to Save. On Sunday morning, one of our guy worship leaders led the song in the key of A. But for Sunday night, I led out on the song in the key of F#. Instead of creating a new arrangement, we just transposed the tracks (or rather slid the notes to my key). Unfortunately, the piano lead line in the song ended up not sounding as great and didn’t have as much impact, because ultimately that song was not written for that key. So to sum it up, let’s just say this: Women don’t have very many songs to choose from, and they are in need of arrangements that are specific to them in a range that is comfortable to sing.

Another note worth making is that because there are so many male led songs and resources available, it really is easier and less time consuming to choose a male-led song for the set. To put it in perspective, it would take my music director 20+ hours to create a new female arrangement for me. Many times, there is not enough time during the week to do this.

So the solution… I want to provide this resource for churches by going through the top 100 worship songs, finding the male-led songs that would translate appropriately to a female range, and create new female arrangements for the songs. I want these new arrangements to be a resource that women AND MEN can use in their church setting to lead worship. When I was first brainstorming and dreaming through this website, one of the questions I asked myself was… As a female worship leader, what resources do I wish were available? Transposed songs and new arrangements for females was one of the biggest things that came to my mind. And the more I talked to other women in worship, the more I realized they wished for that too. So this section holds the most weight for me, but unfortunately costs the most money to create. To create a new arrangement for one song, it costs appx. $1000. Because essentially, myself and a team of musicians would be creating a new song… and recording new parts. It is a lot of time and a lot of resource required, and you can imagine the cost of just this section alone. It is a big dream, but something I believe will revolutionize the way women are equipped to lead worship.


So to recap… projectWOW, or project women of worship, exists to provide conversation, community, and resource for women in worship, and the avenue with which I am providing these things is through a website.

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In conclusion, think on these things… The worship experience in church should represent God’s kingdom. It should be beautiful and diverse. Unfortunately, women are the minority in leading the worship experience. And we as women in worship need a place where we can grow something that is a vital part of the church. ProjectWOW is that place. It is a tool that will help women to fulfill their calling in life. It is a place that will provide community, conversation, and resource. I am asking that we come together, whether you are a female worship leader or not, and help start something that will give women the proper tools they need to thrive. And ultimately, our worship experience in church will represent true community and God’s kingdom at it’s best.


A Little Bit About Me

Recently, a friend asked me a few questions. So, I thought I would share my answers with you…

1. Tell me about yourself: 
I am a worship pastor at my home church, CCV. Beyond that, I am the first full-time female worship pastor that my church has encountered. This has shaped my journey in a very meaningful way and I wouldn’t have it any different. My journey as a believer has always been about stretching myself through uncomfortable moments. God calls me out of my comfort to do His work, and it is in those moments that I grow the most. My goal as an artist/songwriter/worship-leader is to point people to God and his Word through passionate and refreshing music.

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2.  What brings you inspiration when writing songs?
Inspiration is found all around and can vary from song to song, but for the most part I feel that I am inspired by SCRIPTURE and STORY. Through scripture, I am able to take the actual word of God and put it into song. This is my favorite way to write! I love the beauty of God’s word. It is refreshing and deep and full of wisdom. It makes my job that much easier because God is already so creative. Story is another inspiration; this could be my own story and how God is teaching me and shaping my own life, or it could be the stories of others and the amazing testimony that God has given them. I also love writing from the perspective of my church’s story. This could come from the pastor’s messages or the overall joy/struggle of the church at the time. There is so much to a story and I love capturing that in a song.

3.  Why did you dive into songwriting?  What pushed you past leading worship into creating songs for people to worship to?
Well, I first started writing in high-school when I was sad about a break-up or so in love that I couldn’t stand it. My writing revolved around my emotions. I used it as a journal of sorts and it helped heal my own heart. When I started leading worship in church, I realized that I could use that same energy to write for God. So I began writing worship songs. They were not very good at first, and it took me a while to understand the difference between writing for a secular venue and writing for the church. I will always be growing in that area! But the first time I sang one of my original worship songs for a service, the feeling was indescribable. Seeing people take the lyrics that I wrote in my quiet room and use them as a prayer to God was amazing. It is because of those moments and experiences that I continue to write congregational worship music.

4.  Can you remember a song that sparked a love for worship within you?  What was it about the lyrics or song that moved you?
When I first started leading worship, Hillsong was the powerhouse of all worship music. We played so many of their songs every week! I remember getting to lead out on Brooke Fraser’s songs, “Hosanna” and “Lead Me To The Cross”. Those two songs were instrumental in my development as a worship leader, especially being a female worship leader. I loved (still love!) Brooke Fraser and wanted to be just like her when I grew up! Her melodies were beautiful and her lyrics were powerful. My favorite part of “Hosanna” that I still sing today is the bridge: “Heal my heart and make it clean, Open up my eyes to the things unseen, Show me how to love like You have loved me, Break my heart for what breaks Yours, Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause, As I walk from earth into eternity.” Those lyrics still inspire me today, and point me into a deeper relationship with God.

5.  Out of the songs you have written, which one reflects your heart for God right now?
Out of the songs I have written, I would say that my song “Heart After You” reflects my heart the best. The lyrics of the chorus say: “Create in my a heart that’s clean, A heart that’s after You”. This song is based off of Psalm 51:10 and has been my prayer for a very long time. Whatever I do in my life or wherever I am, I want it to be because God has taken me there. I want my desires to be His desires. This is hard to do unless you have a heart after God’s own heart. So I choose to give him all of me, every part.

35 Hours to $50,000

I a writing this blog with 35 hours left in my fundraising campaign. We are down to the last hours!! But in the midst of all the stress that a fundraising campaign can bring, I had a very lovely wake-up-call this morning. I received an email from a female worship leader who was encouraged by my blog:

Hi! Just wanted to drop a word of encouragement. Stumbled across your blog this morning and immediately connected with your words! I never even knew I could sing until last year, because I was always doing harmonies for the key of A (or another male key). Worship has always been a huge part of my heart (I play piano and have been on a team for years!), but I just started leading worship songs at my church. Our church is currently all male worship leaders (five male leaders across three campuses). I have been encouraged to step up by these leaders and more people, but I don’t think anyone realizes just how different male and females lead – everything from communication with the team to music style to song key. (I especially don’t think that our leaders understand the key difference of male and females!) Anyways, we have a women’s conference coming up, which is making me (freak out!) look into more resources of how I can be a stronger, more effective worship leader – specifically as a female for females! I can’t wait to dive deeper into your blog and YouTube videos. I will be following you on social media and looking forward to all that will come from you! I think your recent goal to empower female worship leaders is BRILLIANT, and I can’t wait to see what is to come from you.

This message reminded me that my effort to encourage and be a resource to women in worship is truly something I feel called to. I feel as if I am right where God wants me to be and the things that I am writing about are actually making a difference in some people’s lives (even when I think I am not making any dent at all).

So I am writing this update to ask for your help. Will you be a part of empowering these women… specifically the ones that keep reaching out for support and encouragement? I have 35 hours left to raise $50,000 and I need all the help I can get!! Would you consider making a donation and/or spreading the word to anyone and everyone possible? I can’t do this without you!!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

FUNDRAISING PAGE

indiegogo

 

ME Benefit

MEbenefitI love being a part of the women’s ministry at my church. There is genuine connection and community. The leadership team not only cares about us as women, but how we can serve as women of the church. This upcoming event is an overflow of the heart of the ministry. Here is some info about it:

ME Benefit: A gathering with a Missions Emphasis

Come join us on Tuesday, July 22nd @ 7pm, as we gather together, just us women, to enjoy yummy desert and become refreshed and inspired through a time of worship, sharing, and connecting. (That’s the ME part)

Then, some of our women who are a part of home-based or personal businesses will have the opportunity to engage us. The idea is that as we gather together, we get a chance to know each other better and find that the goods and services we might want or need, can not only be purchased at this event, but will act to serve others. (That’s the BENEFIT Part)

This is how it works: Vendors will be set up with their items or services, guests may shop these booths, and a portion of the proceeds and all the fees, will go toward the purchase of the land used to minister to the Kawangware community in Africa (Chosen Children of Promise or CCP), where our sponsored child, Violet lives. There will be raffles and a place to donate available as well. This will be a fun, one of a kind event you won’t want to miss and a GREAT place to bring along a friend!

I am excited to be a part of this event in more ways than one. First of all, I get to lead worship! Second, I will be one of the vendors that night! At my booth, I will be selling my CD and a portion of the sales will go towards the purchase of this land for CCP. Also…

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!! As you know, I am in the midst of trying to raise $50,000 to empower the next-gen of women in worship. I will be showing my video the night of the event and allowing people to donate to this cause at my booth. If I raise the full $50,000, I will be donating $1000 to CCP. I feel so blessed to partner with the women’s ministry at CCV as well as CCP in Kenya.

If you can’t make it to the event, feel free to visit my fundraising page to find out more.

Empowering Women in Worship

I have had the privilege of leading worship at my home church, Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA, for 7 years now. I love my church and my community… and I LOVE what I do. Although different than what I thought I might be doing in life, I feel as if I am right where God has called me. And that is a fun and exciting place to be! But like anything else, a calling comes with its share of obstacles. Although trying at times, it has been an amazing learning experience. I have learned how to rely on God when feeling alone, and I have learned to believe in myself and the calling God has on my life.

As a result of my own journey, my passion has heavily turned to equipping and empowering women, specifically women in worship. I want women all over the world to know they are valued beyond measure, that they have unlimited potential, and that they have a unique gifting and calling within God’s kingdom. And the more I dive into this calling, the more I feel God shaping it. Deep in my heart I feel like this calling is going to turn into something bigger than myself. Have you ever felt like that?

I know this to be my first step: A WORSHIP ALBUM DESIGNED TO EMPOWER THE NEXT GENERATION OF FEMALE WORSHIP LEADERS.

But what comes next? I don’t know. This vision is what I will start with, and who knows what it will turn into. That is why I love serving God and trusting in his sovereign will for my life. Because he always has a plan, and I can’t wait to see where He takes me on the journey of empowering women in worship.

Check out this video for more info on my first step:

TO DONATE CLICK HERE

 

 

#projectWOW

I launched #projectWOW (Women of Worship) this past week, and I have been overwhelmed with the positive response about the vision of the project. It is an album designed to empower the next generation of female worship leaders. And more than that… I want to provide a healthy environment for women in worship in whatever way possible. I have until July 25th to raise the funds needed to accomplish this project. And any way that you can help would be amazing! Here is the link to find out more: #projectWOW

When I first started revealing some of the struggles I was facing as a female worship leader, I was amazed at the messages received from other women in worship.

“…I am a female worship leader, this is my fourth year of leading worship and am only 19. I found your blog post about being a female worship leader really helpful and your music and voice beautiful. I was the only female worship leader at my church in Sydney until just a month ago and have experienced similar things to you that you put in your blog. Just wanted to say thanks for putting yourself out there and being vulnerable, its nice to know there are others out there facing the same things 🙂 and if you have any more wisdom please do share it on your blog or via email. Thanks! God Bless!”

“Oh wow. I am so glad to know that I am not the only one struggling with this– haha! For me, I still hear comments from guys telling me that they find it hard to sing with me during worship, while the rest of the girls would say that they love singing with me. Haha.”

“Can I message you? I’m leading worship temporarily, and I’m a full-time “fill-in” worship leader at my church. I’m just very discouraged and I’m dealing with a lot on my plate right now, worship leader-wise. Thank you for being a voice for us girls!”

The more I write about it… the more response I get. Which is why I feel as if I am right where God has called me to be. #projectWOW is more than just a new album. It is about empowering these women… the ones who feel alone and discouraged… the ones who just want to quit. I want them to know that they are valued beyond measure and that God can use them in such a beautiful way! Check out this video to learn more…

DONATE TO #projectWOW HERE

New Music from Bethel & Kari Jobe

Worship leaders… I have been listening to a couple of great albums the past couple weeks. These songs are a great resource of congregational worship songs for women. Love it! Here they are…

You Make Me Brave

You Make Me Brave, is a compilation of songs from Bethel’s female worship leaders… a night of worship “from women and for women”. This album is powerful and anointed, and includes many powerhouse vocalists including Kari Jobe and Amanda Cook. Favorite song… You Make Me Brave. I love the lyric found in the bridge of the song, and it also happens to be the title of the album.

majestic 2Kari Jobe’s new album, Majestic, is beautiful and congregational. The lyrics and melodies on this album are not only singable, but invite people into the presence of God. I am so glad that she has released a worship album. Even though it is quite different from what she has done in the past, it has created a beautiful resource for women in worship. Love every song on this album!

Meaning Behind: Light of the World

Light of the World

Light: the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.

Picture yourself in a dark room. Everywhere you look, there is black. You don’t know what is around you. You can’t take a step without the fear of bumping into something. You are lost, feeling your way around blindly, desperately searching for some small ounce of light. How do you feel in that moment? What is going through your mind? Are you scared like I would be… uneasy and uncertain?

Light is very important. Light is needed if we are to see clearly. Light is the what points us to understanding and certainty. If you can see, you can act. If you can see, you know what to expect.

In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the LIGHT OF THE WORLD, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus is the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. He is the agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible. And not just the ordinary things around us, but the supernatural and spiritual truths that are needed in our lives. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and we are to follow Him. It is promised in scripture that if we do that, we will never walk in darkness. We will never have to be afraid because He is shinning the light of life, and true salvation is found in Jesus.

Let us always pursue a life in the light of Jesus Christ. May we search out and find Him in the place where His glory dwells. I hope that this song encourages you to do just that.

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

Let Your kingdom come, Your will be done, I turn to face the rising sun
To find You in the place Your glory dwells
A brand new day, A bright new start, A second chance, A change of heart
To find You in the place Your glory dwells

Light of the world come down
Shine till the path is found
Light of the world come down, come down

I’ll run to You when you call me out, follow You through fear and doubt
To find You in the place Your glory dwells
I’ll trust in You when my faith is weak, die to self and humbly seek
To find You in the place Your glory dwells

Light of the world come down
Shine till the path is found
Light of the world come down, come down
Break through the dark of night
Heaven and earth collide
Light of the world come down, come down

You are the way the truth and the life
Shine on, Shine on

To purchase the song, CLICK HERE.

Being a Female Worship Leader is Hard

worship-leader-idolThis post is specifically for my female worship leader friends, or anyone who works with other female worship leaders. A little background…

I am the only female worship leader on staff at my church. On my church campus, I work with one other male worship leader, and all the other campuses have male worship leaders. Over the years, I have come to understand the difficulty of trying to lead the same set as my male worship leader counterpart. It has been a challenge! For one, I naturally don’t have the same type of “energy” as he does. Most of our congregation, when I first got hired, was not used to seeing a female take the reigns. It was a different type of leadership that they were not used to. Also, the guys didn’t know how to sing in a female key. Eek… what is harmony?! Females are so used to singing harmony to male worship leaders, but males have not grown up with that ear training. So, it was very difficult for them… and still is. Over time, I have learned to place my songs in keys that work best for male and female both, but that still doesn’t solve every problem. (If you are wondering, C-C works as the best range for everyone).

In addition, when we introduce songs, my male worship counterpart and I are supposed to find a song that works for both of us. Yeah right! This is so hard. We found a couple songs that worked, but it usually resulted in both of us struggling with the song. Compromise led to… not the best for our congregation. We recently worked out a rotation where we can introduce 2 different songs simultaneously to different services. I won’t go into the details, but this has been an amazing process because we have been able to introduce songs that fit our own style and heart, yet still minister to our congregation. Co-leading has also helped this.

Another struggle that I have run into lately has been the availability of female-led worship songs for the corporate church. There is not much out there, especially upbeat songs! In the top 30 worship songs right now, there are only 2 female led songs and they are more like ballads. Typical, right? So how do I survive as a female worship leader!? Below are some resources that I hope will help:

  • ORIGINAL MUSIC
    • My heart is to write songs, specifically for females to use in the corporate worship setting. These songs are meant to be singable, catchy, and in a female key.
    • To look through my catalogue, go to my website. Charts are also provided on my site for FREE!
  • YOUTUBE CHANNEL
    • I have recently been posting more live videos from my worship sets on the weekend. Most of the songs that I am posting are male-led songs that I have transposed and arranged specifically for me. Feel free to rip off the arrangements and use them for your own worship sets!
    • Check out the videos on my YOUTUBE channel.
  • LIST OF MALE SONGS TRANSPOSED
    • Here is a list of some of the top worship songs that are male-led, and the keys that I would do them in (Just a few to get you started!):
      • 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord), Matt Redman- Key of D
      • One Thing Remains, Bethel- Key of E (without the octave jump)
      • Christ Is Enough, Hillsong Live- Key of D
      • The Rock Won’t Move, Vertical Church Band- Key of D
      • This Is Amazing Grace, Phil Wickham- Key of C
      • God Is Able, Hillsong Live- Key of E
      • Stronger, Hillsong Live- Key of A
      • Our God, Chris Tomlin- Key of E
      • Everlasting God, Brenton Brown- Key of A
      • Not To Us, Chris Tomlin- Key of E
      • Glory To God Forever, Fee- Key of F#
      • We Are The Free, Matt Redman- Key of D

Hope this helps! Please message me if you have any questions. My heart is for other female worship leaders and I want to continue to be of resource to you. More posts and resources to come.

 

Kids Singing My Songs? I Never Imagined.

Last week I was invited to come visit the kids choir at CCV (my home church). Rebekah Neilson, our kids worship leader, said that they had a surprise for me. Oooo… I love surprises! So this past Tuesday, after I led worship for the women’s bible study group, I went to pay them a visit. As I walked down the hall to Room 201, I heard the voices of many little worship leaders in the making. They were being led to sing vocal warms ups. As I walked into the door, I saw a few of them turn their heads to look at me. They smiled in anticipation.

I wondered what the surprise was going to be. I had an inkling to what in might be… Rebekah had introduced my song, “Heart After You” a few months back for the weekend kids services, and they have been singing it in rotation ever since. I had seen little snippets of video here and there of the kids singing out the lyrics with their sweet hand motions, but had never seen it in person. Shortly after I arrived at their rehearsal, Rebekah had them turn around towards me (all of their cute little faces) and wave hi to Mrs. Ashley. They cued the music and sure enough it was the intro to my song. They all faced Rebekah as she led them in singing the song, hand motions and all. I pulled my phone out to capture the moment and tears started to well up in my eyes.

 

I never thought in a million years that the songs I wrote for my album would reach kids. But after seeing them sing one of my songs the other night, I have never felt so much joy! I have seen youth and adults of all ages sing this song in particular, but the kids were the ones that melted my heart.

My writing inspiration for my album was to put scripture to song, and my goal was that the songs would be catchy enough to stick in the hearts of its listeners. The night of my album release, I showed a video that expanded on this idea. I mentioned the songs that I used to sing in Sunday School as a kid. These songs put scripture into my heart even at a young age. And they were catchy enough to stick with me even until now! That is amazing! And that is why the moment I saw the kids singing “Heart After You”, it became more special to me than anything I have ever experienced.

Psalm 51:10 (“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”) is the scripture inspiration for “Heart After You”. The lyrics to the song read, “Create in me a heart that’s clean, A heart that’s after You.” My prayer is that as these kids continue to sing out these lyrics, the Word of God would become a part of their vocabulary… their being… their life. And in years to come, they would never forget.

To God be the glory.