choir for persons who are developmentally disabled


This weekend was more than exciting for me and the three choirs who gathered for our annual choir retreat.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our choirs go into churches helping to teach that a person who is developmentally disabled can have a genuine relationship with the Lord.

While we were at Word of Life retreat center, even the drivers and volunteers experienced a blessing from the Lord as they joined in the worship and study.  For me, it was especially thrilling.  Perhaps it was even life changing.

During this time, I realized something about myself.  I’ve loved directing the Special Gathering choirs more than almost anything I do.  I even say that the choirs are my hobby because they are too much fun to be work.  This Saturday, I realized that not only do I love being a choir director; but God helps me to draw from the choir members things which they may not know they can give.  Sure, that is the job of every director but I didn’t actually realize that God was working in this way with me.  It came as a bit of a shock.

We often talk about the importance of learning when to say, “No.”  But there doesn’t seem to be many rules about when to say, “Yes.”  I’ve been asked to consider whether I would be willing to take over all the Special Gathering choirs.  It will mean extra work but I’ve been excited about the prospect of doing this.  The question has been, should I say, “Yes”?  What are the markers that make a right decision easier to make.

I think God taught me how to establish clear markers in decision making during this retreat.  Here are some of the things I learned.

1.  Do you feel God’s pleasure when you are doing this activity?

2.  Are others blessed as much as you are?

3.  Can you see spiritual growth in others when you engage in this activity?

4.  Can you see spiritual growth in your own life when you engage in this activity?

5.  Are you given spiritual insight or revelation from the Lord when you are actively working in this arena?

6.  Does God speak to others when you are doing this?

7.  Do you sense that others take pleasure in helping you to perform this mission?

8.  Are you able to draw others into the circle of influence that this activity produces?

9.  Does this activity give you energy or do you feel drained from the effort?

If you can answer “yes” to most or all of these questions, God is probably in a positive decision.  Most of us won’t be asked to be choir directors; but all of us will face a decision which will demand an answer.  Perhaps these Yes Markers will help us to be able to know God’s will and purpose in our lives.

Is there something that you do that helps you to feel God’s pleasure?  Have you included it into your repertoire of activities?  If not, why not?

Early Friday morning, 33 people from two states gathered for a Special Gathering choir retreat.  As you probably know, Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  People who are developmentally disabled compose the three choirs. This is part of the outreach of Special Gathering into the community and a small portion of what we do.

Our primary purpose for the weekend was to learn the Christmas music that the three choirs will perform in their local communities but God had a different objective.  During Friday practice time, the Holy Spirit ministered to us in uniquely, pleasant ways.  Choir members who had little interest in developing their voices for praising God were sitting on the edges of their seats, responding to the music and director.  Those who love to sing and hungerly grasp all the solos were pressing other less-talented members to try to sing certain solo parts.

During one song, a quiet holiness fell as we sang.  Our rehearsal became worship.  Unexpectedly, four or five people started to cry because of the presence of the Lord.  Together, we laughed and cried as we savored a precious moment as God decided to touch an entire group of people with his love and grace.

On Saturday, we had a short rehearsal and left for a day of playing at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness.  By the afternoon, our fun was interrupted by concern for one of the members.  Late Friday afternoon she had stepped off a curve wrong and twisted her ankle.

She never fell, limped or complained.  She insisted that she was fine and in almost no pain.  We had iced it, called her supervisory staff.  We gave her over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory  medication approved by her staff.  However, by Saturday evening as we traveled home, it was apparent that she was in severe pain.

Additionally, one of our van drivers got lost going home.  We expected her to get home a bit before 10PM.  She did not arrive until 11PM.  When I got a phone call at 10:40 that she was late, I called parents to see if she had gotten stuck at one of their homes.  She had not arrived.  I got dressed; headed out to find her.  As I was pulling out of the driveway, we got a phone call that she had arrived at one of the homes.

On Sunday, the lady with the twisted ankle had to be taken to the hospital.  The doctors found that she had broken her foot.  When staff called me, she was irate that I would allow her to walk on that broken foot for two days without taking her to get medical attention.  This was the same staff person that I’d called three times to give a progress report regarding her condition.  During those conversations, she had not told me that my member had extremely brittle bones because of a new medical condition; and she takes medication for the condition.

Additionally, when I returned home, languishing among my junk mail was a letter from the IRS.   I am being audited by the IRS for the last three years.  The audit is expected to take at least four hours.  The last time I was audited, even though I had receipts and written proof for all my deductions, the auditor refused to look at them and she would not allow the deductions because the audit was taking too much of her time.  It had cost us over a thousand dollars.

As a commissioned minister, I am self-employed.  I save every receipt and form.  I also prepare my own taxes, using Turbo-tax.  Instructions from the IRS on how to prepare for this audit is a five page letter and represents a monumental task.

In contrast, on Sunday morning, a combined choir sang at a large local church.  They were anointed and ministered the Lord in a marvelous way.  As they sang, I sat aside my concerns for my member’s broken foot and the IRS and how the driver got lost.  Quietly, the Lord reminded me of the reassuring calmness that always proceeds severe storms.

I was raised in Charleston, SC.  Hurricanes were an annual event during my childhood.  The 1950’s marked the lowcountry cities with the scars of wild wind and furious rain.  However, after the weather forecast told us about the approaching storm, the neighborhood children would gather on our front walkway. Squatting on the hard, cool concrete, we marveled at the peace and stillness.  While our parents frantically prepared our homes, we would sit quietly, experiencing the calm.

As interesting as the storms were, it was the calm that followed and proceeded each storm that captured my young imagination.  Yesterday, the Lord reminded me of the calm that always attends an approaching storm.  “You would be wise to not let the fury of the storm destroy the peace you feel before and after you are attacked by the enemy of your soul.”

How often I’ve been so caught up by the storm that I lose my perspective of a life lived in Christ.  Joy and triumphant singing go before us each step of the way.  Goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives.  We are wrapped with peace in the middle of the storm.  Yet, I sit in the rocking chair of our soul and rehearse every moment of the last storm.  I recount in my mind the wind and the rain.  I speak to myself about the damage and the despair.

Yep, it appears that another storm period has invaded my life.  But quietly God is saying, “This too shall pass.”  In the meantime, God has touched a small group of mentally challenged folks and used them for his glory.  Does life get much better than that?  I don’t think so.

Today, we will begin our choir retreat.  I’ve been preparing for it for the past week which is the reason why I’ve missed writing blog entries all week.  Through the wonder of WordPress, I’ll be able to make up the lost entries.  However, it’s been a week of formatting and meetings to prepare for the 33 people who will be attending at Word of Life Retreat Center in Hudson, Florida.

I thank God for Ferne Brandt who is the program director for the Walterboro Special Gathering, Tarah Risher who is the assistant choir director in South Carolina and Lindsey Craddock who will be the baby sitter for the children coming with their parents.  Additionally, Pam and David Gillespie are our van drivers and all-around, able crew.  Joanne Semenuck is also driving her truck filled with our sleeping bags and luggage.  Additionally, she is helping with refreshments.

Would it be possible have a ministry without people who labor doing all the actual work?  I often feel a tad guilty because I get to do all the fun stuff like directing the choir while the rest of the crew is hauling luggage and moving boxes and tables to set up the refreshments.

Too often, it is the behind-the-scenes pit crew that insure that every ministry runs like clock-work.  At Special Gathering, we are especially blessed.  We get to work with dedicated and extremely competent people who love the Lord and the people we serve.

Who is someone you are thankful for today?  What are the tasks they perform?

This is the Christmas play we will be using in Melbourne, Vero and South Carolina programs of Special Gathering.  You will need to use your imagination to adapt it to your own staging area.  In one of our programs, we have not curtains.  We adapt the play to fit the area in which we must perform.

The music is from Cedarmont Kids, “Gospel Christmas Songs” Album.  Your choir will love the upbeat Spirituals with a Jamaican influence.  My choirs have not even noticed that the songs are sung by a children’s choir. 

You can order the album on line.  The songs are sung twice.  The second set has split track.

Joy!  It’s Christmas Time

By Linda G. Howard

Choir should be positioned on the side of the stage opposite where the actors will be entering and exiting the stage. Three people come to the front. 

Speaker 1—We’d like for everyone to join us as we sing, “Joy to the World.”  Everyone, including audience sings, “Joy to the World.” 

Joy to the World! The Lord is Come

1. Joy to the World!  The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King.

      Let every heart prepare Him room,

      And heaven and nature sing, And haven and nature sing,

      And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

2.  Joy to the World the Savior reigns, Let men their songs employ.

      While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains

      Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy,

      Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

3.  He rules the world with truth and grace,

      And make the nations prove the glories of His righteousness

      And wonders of His love,

      And wonders of His love,

      And wonders, wonders of His love.

Speaker 2—(Comes from the audience.  He puts his hands on his hips as though angry)  Okay, it’s Christmas but can we really be singing about Joy?  Everything is a mess.  There are wars.  People hate us.  We hate others.  I don’t know where you get all that joy stuff.

Speaker 3—Hey, sit down!  You are messing up our play.  This is the story about Jesus’ birth. 

Speaker 1—That’s right.  Can somebody make this person sit down?  Will anyone help us?

Speaker 4—Wait a minute.  Isn’t this why we celebrate Jesus’ birthday?  We need to help people understand why Jesus’ life is important to us.

Speaker 2—Yeah, why do you think that Jesus was such an important person?  What makes his birth special?

Speaker 1—Sit down and watch our play.  We’ll explain it all to you. 

Speaker 2–Okay.  I’ll watch your play.  After all, it is Christmas time.

Reader 1:       God, the Father, knew that people need someone to help them with their lives.  We need a Savior.  Sin has made us fearful.  We hurt each other and ourselves.  God had a plan to send His Savior.  That Savior was His son, Jesus.

Choir sings “The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy.”   Mary comes from behind curtain, looking up to the sky.  The house lights go off and the only light is on Mary.  The Angel Gabriel comes from the opposite side of the stage.  She should be looking in the opposite direction.  He quietly stands behind Mary.  She does not see him. 

2. The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy  

1.     The Virgin Mary had a Baby boy. (3xs)

        And they said that His name will be Jesus.

chorus

He come from the glory.

He come from the glorious kingdom

He come from the glory.

He come from the glorious kingdom

2. The Angels sang when the Baby was born…

chorus

3. The Shepherds came-a when the Baby was born…

chorus

4. The wise men saw-a where the Baby was born…

chorus

Reader 2:  God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin girl who lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee.  The girl was engaged to marry a man named Joseph.  Her name was Mary. 

(As the choir begins to sing, “Wonderful Counselor,” the angel takes Mary‘s hands.)

3. Wonderful Counselor 

1. Tell me, who do you call The Wonderful Counselor?

 (Chorus)

Oh, oh, glory, hallelujah

Oh, oh, glory, hallelujah

Glory, Hallelujah to the newborn King.

2. The Holy Spirit will come on the Blessed Virgin Mary.  (Chorus)

3. Well, they’ll call Jesus, “TheWonderful Counselor.”  (Chorus)

4. Cryin’ Peace on earth, Good will to your neighbor…  (Chorus)

5. Well, I call Jesus, my wonderful Savior… (Chorus)

6. They’ll follow the star to find the baby…  (Chorus)

When the song ends, the angel leaves.  The curtain opens and Mary sits on a bench. Hands and face held up in prayer.

Joseph comes out and stands in the center of the stage. Mary stands and meets him and uses gestures to explain about the angel.   As they talk to each other, they move around the stage.  Choir sings, “Jesus, What a Wonderful Child.”


4.  Jesus, Oh, What a Wonderful Child 

(chorus) Jesus! Jesus! Oh, what a wonderful child!

Jesus!  Jesus! So lowly, meek and mild.

New life, new hope, new joy He’ll bring

Won’t you listen to what the angel proclaims.

Glory, glory, glory, to the newborn king.

I am an angel from the heavenly King.

He’ll born in a lowly manger.

The Virgin Mary is his mother.

And Joseph, you’re His earthly father. 

Take Mary to be your only wife

You’ll be blessed with a heavenly star.

To see King Jesus will be your joy

In a manger filled with hay.

Repeat chorus 2xs

Tag  Glory, glory, glory, to the newborn king.

Reader 1:       Mary was engaged to marry Joseph.  But before they married, Mary learned that she was pregnant with a child by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Mary’s husband, Joseph was a good man.  He did not want to bring shame to Mary before the people.  So he planned to divorce her secretly. 

Mary turns away from Joseph and has her back to the audience. She slowly walks back stage.  The choir sings “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”  Joseph goes to center stage.  He is confused, hurt, and angry.  He sits down and falls asleep. 

As the choir begins to sing “Go Tell it,” Joseph’s Angel comes on stage wakes him up and talks to Joseph.  At verse 3, the angel leaves.  Mary comes on stage.  Joseph goes to Mary, takes her hand and helps her off the stage.

5.  Go! Tell It on the Mountain 

 (chorus) Go, tell it on the mountain,

Over the hills and everywhere;

Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

1.     While Joseph tossed in anger,

 An Angel came to earth,

The Angel came to tell him

Of our great Savior’s birth.

2.     The Heavenly One told Joseph,

“Take Mary as your wife.

She’ll be the Savior’s mother.

He’ll live a holy life.”

3.     So he obeyed the angel

The humble Christ was born

And brought us God’s salvation

That blessed Christmas morn.

Chorus

Reader 3:  And Joseph did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream.  He married Mary.

(Joseph puts his arm around Mary.  Mary and Joseph walk off the stage. Close curtain or the stage should be empty.)

Reader 2:    At that time Augustus Caesar sent out an order to all people.  The order said that all people must write their name in a book.  All people traveled to their own towns to be registered.  So Joseph went to Bethlehem in Judea.  Joseph went with Mary.  While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby.

 The choir sings, “O, Little Town of Bethlehem.”

6.  O Little Town of Bethlehem 

O little town of Bethlehem—

How still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting light;

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, And gathered all above.

While mortal sleep the angels keep

Their watch of wondering love.

O Morning Stars together proclaim the Holy birth

And praises sing to God the king and peace to men on earth!

(Back to first verse.  Audience is invited to sing with them.)

As the choir sings, shepherds should move to the front floor area.  At verse three, open the curtains. Mary and Joseph should be center stage with the baby in Mary’s arms.  There should be no angels or shepherds on stage at this time.

Reader 4:  That night, Mary gave birth to her first son, Jesus. 


Choir sings “Mary had a Baby.”

7.  Mary Had a Baby

Mary had a baby.  Yes, Lord. 

Mary had a baby. Yes, my Lord;

Mary had a baby, Yes, Lord!

The people keep a comin’ and the train done gone.

1. What did she name him?  Yes, Lord.

What did she name?  Yes my lord;

What did she name him, Yes, Lord.

The people keep a comin’ and the train done gone.

2.      She named Him King Jesus, Yes, Lord!

She named him King Jesus, Yes, my Lord.

Wonderful Couns’lor. Yes, Lord.

The people keep a comin’ and the train done gone.

3.      Where did she lay him?  Yes Lord!

Laid Him in a manger?  Yes, my Lord!

Wrapped Him in swaddlin’, Yes, Lord!

The people keep a comin’ and the train done gone

Reader 5:       Some shepherds were in the fields watching their sheep.

Reader 6:       An angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds and said,

Reader 7:       “Don’t be afraid.”

Angels walk up.  They should point the shepherds to Mary and Joseph and the baby. 

Choir sings,“Rise Up Shepherds and Follow.”

8.  Rise Up, Shepherd and Follow

There’s a star in the east on Christmas morn,

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

It will lead to the place where the Savior’s born,

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

Leave your sheep and leave your rams,

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

Leave your flocks and leave your lambs.

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

If you take good heed to the angel’s words

Rise up, shepherd and follow.

You’ll forget your flocks; you’ll forget your herds;

Rise up, shepherd, and follow.

Follow, follow, Rise up, shepherd and follow.

Follow the star of Bethlehem. Rise up, shepherd and follow.

Rise up, shepherd and follow. Rise up, shepherd and follow.

 As soon as the song ends, the shepherds walk to the center stage on the floor and bow, if they can.  One or two shepherds should go on stage and bow before the manger. 

Angels should move on to the stage.  As the music begins for “Behold that Star,”  the wise men begin to move from the back.  They come on stage and kneel on the floor before the baby.

9. Behold that Star

(chorus)

Behold, that star

Behold, that star up yonder,

Behold, that star

This the star of Bethlehem.

There was no room found in the inn.

This the star of Bethlehem.

For Him who was born free from sin,

This the star of Bethlehem.

(chorus)

The Wise men came from the East

This the star of Bethlehem.

To worship, Him, the Prince of Peace

This the star of Bethlehem.

(chorus)

(tag)  This the star of Bethlehem.

Choir sings, “Silent Night” as speakers 1, 3 and 4 move to the front of the stage on the floor.  Then speaker 1 goes and gets speaker 2 and helps him to come onto the front of the stage.  Speaker 2 bows at the manger.  Then all the other speakers come on the stage and bow with him.

Silent Night

Silent night, holy night, All is calm all is bright.

Round yon virgin, mother and Child!

Holy infant so tender and mild. 

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly, heavenly peace

Silent night Holy night

Son of God, love’s pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeem grace

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Choir and audience sings “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  Everyone, except Mary, stands and sings with the choir and audience.

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!

Come and behold him, born the King of Angels!

O come, let us adore Him, (3xs) Christ, the Lord.

Sing, Choirs of Angels, Sing in exultation.

Sing, all ye hosts of heav’n above.

Glory to God all glory in the highest,

O come, let us adore Him, (3xs) Christ, the Lord!

Yea, Lord, We greet Thee, born this happy morning, Jesus to Thee be all glory given.

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing,

O come, let us adore Him, (3xs) Christ the Lord.

 

a couple of years ago, The Special Gathering Choir of Indian River sang at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Indialantic, Florida.  The Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our mission is to evangelize and disciple people who are developmentally disabled.  However, we realize there are many misconceptions about our population; therefore, our ministry to the Church is to help educate them to the spiritual needs of people who are mentally challenged.

After the choir sang their two selections, they received a resounding, standing ovation.  They exited the church, all smiles and returned across the river to Melbourne Special Gathering to catch their rides home.  I stayed for the entire service.  After the benediction, the pastor, Rev. Elmer Floyd, graciously asked me to stand at the door of the church and receive the members as they left the sanctuary.  That is an honor that is sometimes given to us by hosting churches.

The response of the congregations is always extremely emotional and overwhelming.  Almost everyone who spoke to me had tears brimming their eyelids.  Old hardened housewives, who long ago quit hoping for a better day, took my hand and were speeching, barely whispering, “Thank you.”  Tough, tall young men in their twenties, with their tattooed arms and fingers, gripped my arms tightly, looking directly into my eyes and mumbled in a gravelly, shame-faced voice, “They touched me.” 

Long ago we learned to understand but underestimate the emotional effect the choir have on audiences.  Because emotions are temporary vapors that are whisked away in the wind.  Yet, there are always several people that are deeply effected by the choir.  Not on the emotional level but in the inner recesses of their spirit, God does a miracle.   One family who spoke to me was touched deeply, beyond the emotions.  Their hearts were bent and perhaps healed a bit by seeing the choir’s ministry.

It was a grandfather and grandmother.  The husband spoke for both of them.  “Our granddaughter was born with Down’s Syndrome,”  he said, not resisting the tears that slowed worned their way down his wrinkled cheeks.  “What a comfort to see what God can do with a person who is mentally challenged and willing to be used by the Lord.  The choir gave us such hope that our granddaughter can we used by God.”  His tone softened,  “Our granddaughter is greatly loved.”

My thoughts raced back about 18 years.  The choir I was directing was singing for a women’s conference.  After the performance, I asked the choir to line up in the front of the auditorium and pray for the women there.  After a member of the choir had prayed for her, Betty came over and hugged me tightly.  Betty and I were friends.  I knew she had a young son who is mentally challenged.  In my arms, she wept deeply. 

Wiping the tears away, she explained, “My great sorry for my son was that I thought God could never use Tony in ministry.  Now, I know that God can use him even with his developmental disabilities.”  Again, she cried.  This time I wept with her. 

A couple of years later, Tony, her son, became a part of Special Gathering.  About a year ago, Tony joined the choir.  Yesterday, this was the song he sang,

Jesus, You alone are worthy,

And I lift my voice to you.

Jesus, You alone are worthy.

I will worship none but you.

 While emotions are an important part of our human make-up, they can’t always be trusted.  However, God’s economy is amazingly green.  He can be trusted to turn what some people consider unusable into life-changing treasures. 

Has God used someone that you thought was unusable in your life?  How have your members ministered to you?

One of my greatest pleasures in life is singing.  My mother came from a singing family.  She, her sisters and brothers sang in harmony all of their lives.  Mother was able to sing a wide range of notes.  She could harmonize in high tenor; but she had been the alto in her family’s singfests.  Some of my fondest memories are when we would sing while washing dishes.  I wasn’t good at carrying the melody when she switched into alto; and that frustrated her.   But I loved singing with her anyway.

My children used to complain that I had a song for every occasion.  If I didn’t know a song that fit the situation, I would make one up or change words to a familiar tune.  By the time my son was a teenage, he had surmised that I always sing when I’m angry, sad or confused.

As I look around Special Gathering, I find that singing within our population doesn’t always mean quality.  Leslie was by far the best choir member I’ve had in many years.  However, the quality of her voice was not great.  She had five or six notes that she could hit perfectly.  Because she had never learned to access her “head voice” which allows you to sing the higher notes on the scales, her range was limited.  Yet, she made up for it with grit, hard work memorizing and staying focused whenever we were singing, either at practice or during a performance.  After the initial training, I don’t ever remember having to say, “Leslie, watch me.”

Yet, Leslie brought what I call the charm factor to the choir.  Her face shined whenever we sang.  She would tilt her head slightly as though she could focus more clearly with her ears at different levels and she would smile.  Hearts of people in the audience would melt seeing the love of the Lord in her face and eyes.

Brenda was the first choir member who taught me the value of attitude and relationship in our singing.  Frankly, she was not a good singer.  In fact, her voice was pretty miserable.  However, her smile was priceless.  Whenever our choir sang, I would put her in front of me trying to shield the audience from her vocal tones.  Then I realized that everyone was coming to her and telling her how much she had blessed them.  I would smile and think about her pitiful singing.  Finally, I realized that her relationship with the Lord was what was blessing the people, not her ability to sing with perfect pitch.

I am constantly working to “build a choir.”  However, it is our members’ relationship with Jesus that blesses people, not their perfect pitch.  Their relationship with Him has taught me the importance of seeking God, not perfection.  When do you think that God is more pleased with us, when we have a bad attitude but perform perfectly, crossing every T and dotting every I? Or when we function out of love and adoration for Him and perform to the best of our ability?

Just because our members are mentally challenged does not mean that they are not able to manipulate.  There was times that our members are able to be even more cunning than any person with a genius IQ.  Therefore, a teacher or pastor whose mission is to help disciple people who are developmentally disabled needs to try to decipher if a person is trying to pull a fast maneuver.  We have two choices.  1)  We can give a member the benefit of the doubt; or 2) we can call his bluff.

Several months ago, I was faced with an interesting situation in which a faithful member got an awful attitude because a close friend had hurt her feelings.  I was puzzled and confused about the behavior that she exhibited.  When it came time for her to help with a program we were presenting, she was not able to lose herself from those haunting and negative feelings. 

It was an important part that she was to play and the rest of the performers needed her.  I was not sure that others could do the performance without her.  Even though it seemed detrimental to the program that we were to present, it was as though she fully understood the awful situation her bad mood had put us all in and she was daring me to discipline her. 

I had time to pray about the situation, as we prepared for the performance.  I simply asked God to help me make the right decisions at the right time.  As we approached the stage for their time to present the Gospel message, I realized that her attitude had not changed.  Quickly, I knew that I must make a decision. 

I believed that it was more important to her personal growth to pull her out of the presentation than to allow her to participate in her present state of mind.  You could say that I chose to “call her bluff.”  I asked her to sit down and not be a part of the presentation.  At first, the other presenters were so shocked that I would take that stand that they were visibly moved and questioned me with their eyes.  They knew that by pulling her from the presentation, they were all in a more vulnerable spot.  However, they quickly recovered.  The presenters  not only finished their performance but filled in for her with amazing grace. 

After the dust had settled and I was alone to contemplate what had happened, the Lord spoke to my heart.  “Why do you constantly try to depend on someone other than me?”  Wow!  Where did this come from?  Was God calling my bluff?  It was true. I had come to depend on this  talented, young woman to bring success when we made presentations.  I felt the Lord was saying that I must continue to depend on Him not people who are gifted. 

More often than I want to admit, I slip into an attitude of depending of people, rather than God.  Most of the time, God gives me the benefit of the doubt.  That day He decided to “call my bluff.”  By pulling the person on whom I was depending, I had to depend fully on Him.  Of course, the Lord again proved that He is more faithful than I could ever hope to be.

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