Recently, I (Carol), was asked to give a few quotes for a story a friend is doing for our local Christian newspaper. The story is on friends of ours, who are First Nations-Native Americans, and how the First Nations people are uniquely gifted in the area of worship & prayer. VOB was blessed to have these friends lead several sessions during the 100 Days of Worship & Prayer. We consider it just a little taste of heaven, when we have the privilege of worshiping with other tribes & nations. Following, is a bit of perspective on cultural forms of worship:
Since we, as believers, are uniquely designed by GOD, to work together as a Body, knowing that each person and each gift, reflects an aspect of Who GOD is, I Cor. 12, it makes sense that, as different cultures come together to worship and contribute their GOD given gifts, Who HE is, is represented more fully. GOD’s personality and attributes, are more fully realized, when the Body comes together in unity, therefore representing who He is to the world around us. We don’t often think of this, culturally speaking, but it is an aspect of believers coming together. This includes the sounds of the ‘nations‘, (which tend to be derived from natural, rather than man-made objects, and what is readily available to the people). While they may be different from ‘our’ sound, or ‘our’ instruments, they are no less relevant. In a cultural sense, the sounds that are unique to a tribe or nation, will have a more profound effect on that same people group, when it comes to worshiping Jesus. When a person hears worship in his or her own culturally relevant style, they realize that GOD cares about them, in a much more profoundly personal way, than if they were required to worship in a style that is unfamiliar and foreign to them. Rev. 21:24-26 says that the ‘kings of the earth, shall bring their glory into it (speaking of New Jerusalem)‘. This implies the giving of the unique characteristics of each nation, to the Lord of Hosts, our Creator.
In my own observations knowing and working with First Nations people, and in participating with First Nations leading worship in our P.o.W. venues, it has been my experience that First Nations peoples are gifted in the area of intercessory worship & prayer. Culturally speaking, due to the oppression they have endured, First Nations people’s relate to the sufferings of the Lord Jesus, in a way that the average American cannot. They also carry a unique understanding of the unity of all of GOD’s creation. This understanding of worshipping GOD as Creator, and of standing in the gap for others, seems to release a new level of worship and prayer in our gatherings.
Since our nation is comparatively young in relation to most other nations, the average American has never been exposed to ancient sounds or songs, that are rooted in much older nations. We are reminded, when we worship with other cultures far older than ours, that GOD Himself, is the Ancient of Days. He has always existed, and will always exist. He has been worshiped for millennia (primarily by the Hebrew nation, until Jesus came), with a myriad of different sounds, by many peoples, When we hear these same ancient sounds & songs, in worship to the Lord, we are deeply impacted by Who GOD is, and how eternal He truly is. For me, this brings about a greater depth of understanding and appreciation of the Lord, and pushes me much further in giving worship to Him.
“Behold how beautiful it is when brethren dwell in unity” Ps.133:1 It is my belief that every culture has the potential to reflect the glory of GOD in some way. When we come together, as different cultures, to worship, outside of our particular ‘flavor’ or style of worship, we honor what the Lord is doing thru out the nations. When we have had people participate who know what it’s like to live and die for the cause of Christ, as some of our African refugee friends have, this brings something extremely profound to our times of worshipping the King and praying for His Name and His salvation to come among the nations. When we have Messianic Jews (Jewish people who are believers in Christ as the Messiah), or Native Americans, or other cultures who love Jesus, bring their own flavor of worship, there is a whole new level of unity & love released in the room.
Unity is something more than just a few people of the same church or of several denominations coming together. On that day in eternity, when we all gather together to worship the Lord, the style will no longer matter. There will be people from every tribe, every tongue & every nation, gathered together, worshiping the King of kings. If our prayer here on earth is, “let Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven”, shouldn’t we be working towards unity among the cultures & nations of the earth? Part of that includes, for us westerners, being open to the style of worship & prayer that other nations move freely in, rather than forcing them to worship in a ‘white American’ style. Style isn’t the issue. The issue is, are we worshiping Jesus Christ the Messiah, the only begotten Son of GOD. When we learn to worship in unity, the true Kingdom of GOD comes. That’s how people get saved!