Last month, 270 Oklahomans travelled to Northern Europe for a music missions trip. I sing in a group known as the Singing Men of Oklahoma. Through almost three years of planning, praying, and preparation, we had developed an itinerary that included singing for over a million people in one day, and celebrating Armenia’s most sacred national holiday.
Our director, Dr. Bill Green, has led concert tours all over the world, including Russia, Australia, and China. He is no stranger to international travel and works extensively with a fantastic travel company that makes our travel easy.
I will confess that I had many conflicting emotions prior to this trip; my family had several important events ahead, including an outpatient surgery for Jane, several college visits and forms for Andrew, all to be done while I was away. And you know, 6000 miles is a long, long way from home. Jane’s parents are older, and anything could happen to them…. and on and on. I thought of hundreds of reasons why I should not go; however, in the end, my commitment to the group and commitment to taking advantage of every opportunity for ministry the Lord provided outweighed my fear, and I signed on.
We worked for a year, learning songs in Armenian for use at their largest national celebration. We saved our pennies and asked our churches for funding for the trip. $4400 was the cost, not including extra spending money for snacks and souvenirs. We worked with a local pastor (we’ll call him Moe) and a local humanitarian aid worker (we’ll call her June) to assist us in language interpretation, concert opportunities, and general history and geography. We really became close to these two servants, and would come to respect their work even more as our time there progressed.
Our goals were simple; to share Christ through music; to show our support of the Armenian people in their memorial day celebration; and to support the evangelical churches in Armenia in their ministries. We could not have been prepared for the joys nor the challenges and frustrations of this project. We have all been welcomed everywhere in the world we have performed. We were not prepared for the rejection and the negative press we would receive. But more on that soon.