Townsville, Australia is home to a major army base, and it’s also where I did my DTS. Down the block, Flinders Street contains strip clubs, bars, and nightclubs. Fights pop up every few feet, and drinking and drugs abound. Naturally, my DTS team decided this was the perfect place to do ministry.
We brought along a guitar and our voices. We hoped for a chance to preach the Gospel during our (struggling) street performances. Right away, another street performer asked if he could play with us, much to our relief! After our first couple of songs with Jake, he wanted to play the song “Oceans” by Hillsong. He told us how negative and dark Flinders Street was, and thought this would help. We weren’t going to say no, so we started to sing. To my surprise, our worship song did not stop people from joining, but only brought more! People flooded the area, asking for more worship songs!
A man came and sat down with us. He was about to be deployed on his second tour. He said he wasn’t sure if he believed in God, but tentatively asked, “Do you think we could sing ‘Shout to the Lord’?” He told us he was raised in the church, but it was the only worship song he ever enjoyed. His grandma used to sing it all the time. He went on to tell us about his time in school, when he was required to attend one worship service a week. No one ever sang the songs. They would sit and wait for the service to be over. Sometimes ‘Shout to the Lord’ was played. He told us how he would get up and sang it at the top of his lungs while everyone else stared at him. It was the one thing that ever made him feel like God was with him.
When we began playing, this man stood up, threw his arms out wide, lifted his head towards the sky, and sang his heart out. Singing with him left me overjoyed and feeling closer to the Lord. I will never forget the smile on his face when the song was over. I thought I might be looking at a new person! I prayed for him and all his military buddies laughed as he bowed his head. He wept when we put our hands on his shoulders and told him how much God loved him.
Years later, I cannot help but think of him when I hear “Shout to the Lord”. I still pray for him, and still get that overjoyed feeling I got during that ten minute moment that changed my life. If I never had a chance to preach the Gospel to another person, God used him to make my entire life in missions worth it.
For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.