The best stories are not short, they begin years ago and bloom right in front of your eyes. Sometimes you are part of the beginning of the story, sometimes you get to see the finale’. Our children’s choir is such a story.
Many decades ago a lovely and talented woman, Maxine, began teaching children’s choir. Every church she served in, she brought instruction and music to the church. She loved Jesus and music and people. Unfortunately, only a year after she came to Candies Creek, she suffered a stroke and began to have many serious health problems. She never got the opportunity to build a children’s choir here.
Forward nearly ten years; families in our church began to ask about a children’s music ministry. Unfortunately for Candies Creek, their children’s director (me), is very unqualified and inept in the music department. However, I was very interested in sign language and began to find an interesting new style of worship for kids, sign language and dowel rods. Using sign and sticks kids tell the story of a song. It’s very pretty and does not require any musical gifts, just desire to learn and praise Jesus. It was fun! Many parents helped as our little team developed.
But God wanted more worship and praise from his children. So the conversation began to turn to a children’s choir. Again, have I mentioned how non-existent this gift exists in me? Well, since this story is not about me anyway, who cares. God wanted a choir and He began to put it together, without much of a plan on my part.
Back to Maxine. At this time she had become bed ridden and Hospice had been called in to care for her in the weeks prior to Christmas. Our church uses one Sunday evening before Christmas to go caroling to all of our home bound church family and those in nursing homes. That night I was assigned to lead a group by myself (remember NO MUSICAL ability here). I panicked and of course very few people showed any mercy and joined my group. I think we had five lovely wonderful people. (My best friends had even abandoned me, they know me well.) We picked up our assignments and jumped in the car on a rainy dark evening. God sent us to Maxine’s house.
Ever been invited into a home to worship? That is exactly what happened. We humbly entered this quiet and peaceful home. Maxine in a hospital bed in the living room of the house. John, her faithful husband, standing by. We began to sing and something incredible entered the room. His Presence, not for us, but as a gift to John and Maxine. A time of song and worship like I’ve never experienced. We were invited to witness this very intimate and overwhelming moment.
At some point in our singing, we shorted a song by one verse. Maxine’s voice came from her bed, singing the verse clearly. We were undone. We stood in the room with a choir leader and her Lord. Words are still not enough to explain that evening. We prayed and cried as we left, acknowledging to John we knew the gift we had been a witness to. Humbled and awed, so much more.
Maxine died just days later.
John and his children set up a unique way to honor Maxine’s love of worship. People gave money to a newly created children’s music ministry. God was serious about children worshiping Him at Candies Creek. What was next? God raised up another young woman in our church to instruct and lead children’s choir. Maxine, who never lead choir at Candies Creek, did so much more, she inspired the next leader. We needed a piano player…God had one for us. We needed some funds…God provided…We needed…You see what God desires, he also provides for. And God had shown us how important choir was to Him through those last songs of Maxine.
I could say so much more about Maxine. Much of it I have learned from her husband John. But to be a part of a choir she lead from her sick bed…to her Jesus, that taught me all I ever need to know about how important worship was in her life and how important it is to God today for a children’s choir at Candies Creek.
And by the way, Maxine’s husband John was able to lead us in prayer at our second choir practice. We will tell this story often to the kids, they need to know how God prepared praises for them.