My heart was racing. My hands were shaking as I clicked ‘send.’ I thought to myself, “There’s no way they’d approve this. There’s no way they’d want someone named Academy of Villains performing at their church. There’s no way they’d let me organize this when they don’t even know me.” But I already sent the e-mail, so I just took a deep breath, prayed for God’s favor, and waited for a response from my missions pastor. Shortly thereafter, I received a reply saying, “It’s possible.” And there, my friends, began the journey to organizing Concert for Change benefiting Life Child Mozambique presented by Cathedral of Faith.
No journey begins without inspiration, and my inspiration came by way of a life-changing, faith-strengthening experience on a mission trip to Mozambique last summer. My heart broke as I witnessed the conditions Mozambican children were living in. I felt helpless as people shared testimonies of the medical challenges their families were facing. Glory be to God that in the midst of such devastating conditions, He brought together a community of believers in Life Church Mozambique who would become His hands and feet to provide physically (shelter and food), mentally (education), medically (Okalawo Children’s Village medical clinic), and spiritually (bringing children and their families to Christ) for those in need. I returned home inspired by the great work God was doing through Life Child for these children, and I was determined to be more than someone who simply felt bad for their circumstances. I realized that God intended for me to be a witness there and an advocate here. I felt the calling to turn compassion into prayer and prayer into action. That is when I made the easiest and most challenging decision to obey God’s calling and organize Concert for Change.
Every detail of the concert was perfectly and uniquely planned by God. Pastor Bev Jaime, who was my fearless leader as I organized the concert, also happened to be the same person who water baptized me. Immediately after being baptized, I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to Mozambique. I went to Mozambique under the amazing leadership of Pastor Robert Mize who unabashedly supported the vision God gave me for the concert. You see, my friends, God was always in control! His hand was in this concert long before I ever set my eyes and heart on Mozambique. He surrounded me with those who would prepare the way for me to serve His children. He gave me life experiences that instilled the value of serving others. He always knew that Concert for Change was never just about changing the lives of Mozambican children. It was about changing the lives of every individual at the concert so they could be the change in their spheres of influence.
Hip-hop dance crews tend to be competition-driven. Most performances are done with victory in mind. For the first time, I witnessed these talented hip-hop dancers (The Tribe, Poppin Spawn & Spawn 2.0, Those One Dudes, Ultra Light Beam Project, and Academy of Villains) come together in unity to support a worthy cause. No trophies. No hype. They knew they were there to encourage change, but I doubt they expected to be changed. God spoke to them through the prayers of the Cathedral of Faith pastoral staff. He spoke to them through worship (Fire From Within, Saylah, Megan Lopez, Taylor Lewis, and Brother Ig). He spoke to them through the testimonies of Pastor Ray Menchaca and myself who served in South Africa and Mozambique respectively. He spoke to them as Nick Stevens shared the vision of Life Child. But we all know, hearing God is one thing. Answering His call is entirely different. I am so proud of these dancers, as they continue to answer the call to use their gift to serve others long after the stage lights have been shut off.
Francis Tyrell, Assistant Director of Academy of Villains, said that the opportunity to volunteer their time and talent to perform at Concert for Change was so incredibly moving that the dancers felt like they were paid in a way that was of more significance than anything they’ve ever done. The most powerful dance performance of the evening was Ultra Light Beam Project whose message of having faith during difficult times resonated with viewers. It inspired the dancers as well. That same group will be returning to Cathedral of Faith to minister through dance. The director of another dance crew commented that the opportunity to perform at Concert for Change made him realize that he could do so much more with dance. He felt the urge to give back to those in need by using his God-given gift. That dance crew hopes to continue partnering with Life Child by someday traveling to South Africa to support the children. These dancers may have come to the concert just to dance, but God was ready to drop a new beat into their hearts!
God is so good, right?!?! Well, I’m not even done yet! The dancers lives weren’t the only ones impacted at Concert for Change, so that tells you just how GREAT our God is. Stay tuned for part 2 of this amazing event that changed, and continues to change, so many lives just by one radical step of obedience!
-Written by Jolly Tyrell, Life Child Champion in San Jose, California, USA. Thank you for sharing this testimony Jolly!