How wonderful to know that the Kingdom of God is not segregated into country or colour of skin, or age, or wealth but we, as the body come from all walks of life, from all around the world and we are united together as the family of God.
Whether 5,000 people across a site in England, or a few of us sat on a bus in Uganda, as we sing and join with one another’s song from around different parts of the world we reflect the Kingdom of God.
This year I had the privilege of leading worship in Studio 36 at Spring Harvest in Minehead. In the lead up to an event like Spring Harvest, I like to spend time seeking God and considering what songs are right for this moment. I take time to listen to the songs that are rising up from around the nation whilst thinking through the content and theme of the week, and over time my song list begins to come together.
Back in February 2023, I was invited to join a team of leaders and worship leaders on a trip to Uganda to see the work of Compassion. Being there for just a few precious days, the trip was jam-packed with seeing the different areas in which Compassion is working and meeting the people who are involved— both those who are serving and those receiving. It was a deeply moving experience, one which I’ll never forget.
As a white, western, middle aged, middle class girl who has a safe home, a loving family, clothes to wear, food on my table, a warm shower and basically anything I might need at my fingertips, it was eye opening to see the conditions in which my brothers and sisters live. Even things that we would regard as basic human rights are sometimes absent.
As I boarded the bus on the first morning, I was feeling a little apprehensive about how the day was going to be. The unknowns. What should I say? What do we talk about? How is it going to be?
Then Uncle Derrick got on the bus. His huge grin and kind eyes immediately put everyone at ease and then He began to teach us a song that the children sing and love. ‘Yesu Anjagala, Yesu Anjagala, Yesu Anjagala, Yesu Anjagala.’ Within seconds we were singing in a new language (and languages are not my forte) a song that crossed over borders and generations that we could sing with the children and helpers. Needless to say, the moment we stepped off the bus and broke into this song, their faces lit up, barriers came crashing down and the dancing, hugging and play began to flow.
Back in the UK, Compassion partnered with Spring Harvest this year, so I thought it would be fun to bring a taste of Uganda into the room. The Spring Harvest mornings kick off with the BIG START which is all age, family style worship. Favoured by those who have risen early with small children and also those young at heart, it is energetic, full of fun and does a great job in unpacking the Bible theme of the day. In these times we are looking to worship with songs that are simple enough for everyone to sing but still full of truth that can speak deeply to us. ‘Yesu Anjagala.’ translated into English means, ‘Jesus loves me.’ The melody is simple, the beat infectious and as we began to teach the song, joy began to rise. The song has two sections. The first is singing ‘Jesus loves me’ 4 times and the second breaks into a response, ‘Hallelujah oh oh oh, Jesus loves me’ which we sing 4 times also.
We also put in a few actions which increased the connection with one another. In the Bible we are told to sing to one another and this song, along with the actions, helped us to do this. A song of revelation and response. The revelation that Jesus loves me and responding with Hallelujah was wonderful. The song then progressed to, ‘Jesus Akwagala’ which translated means, ‘Jesus loves you’. We received and then turned and sung it over each other. It was powerful and we didn’t want it to stop. The song was so much enjoyed that we had to include it in the evening celebration too. The effect was the same. It was by far the most requested song of the week.
What a joy it was to not only sing these words of truth but to also experience the power of singing them in another language. I love hearing people singing and praying in their own tongue.
Last year Sheldon Bangera led so beautifully at Skegness with the song Jai Jai Naam. The beauty though was not just Sheldon singing in his language, but the congregation, with a different native tongue, collectively joining in the song with him. Jesus loves the church. Jesus loves His bride.
This church, this body is not made up just of those of us who made it to Spring Harvest in England but a people from every tribe, nation, colour and tongue. How wonderful to know that the Kingdom of God is not segregated into country or colour of skin, or age, or wealth but we, as the body come from all walks of life, from all around the world and we are united together as the family of God.
Whether 5,000 people across a Spring Harvest site in England, or a few of us sat on a bus in Uganda, as we sing and join with one another’s song from around different parts of the world we reflect the Kingdom of God.