Their voices rang loud and clear. Faces full of emotion and testimony. A stirring start to this choir’s Easter performance.
Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly king, Alleluia!
I felt the words as my eyes filled with tears. Beauty in the music. All my senses taking it in.
I watched the faces. I know the director and many of the vocalists. They have sacrificed and made commitments to sing in this remarkable choir. And they have embraced their faith and endured in life.
That was when I noticed Bill.
Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
He sang with conviction. Strength. A witness to his belief.
I know something about his past. A difficult upbringing. Transferred from one foster home to another. A tragic journey of despair and loneliness.
Once a lost foster child. A lost identity. Now standing tall singing praises. Dignity. A clear understanding visible on his face.
How did he get from there ... to here?
It all started at Mary Coyle Ice Cream Shop. He became friends with a co-worker. There was pizza after work. Car rides. Acceptance.
One Easter weekend the friend invited Bill to a church family camping trip in Rocky Point, Mexico.
The families there reached out to Bill. Put their arms around him. Offered food and drinks. A smile and a handshake.
For the first time in his life ... Bill felt like he was home.
His friend's family became his. They never asked or preached. They simply lived the gospel. And loved Bill.
He never forgot. Home now includes a loving wife and daughter. "I know who I am and where I'm supposed to be," he says. "This is where the Lord wants me."
I have watched him in countless leadership positions with teens. Scouting. Teambuilding. Loving and mentoring youth who are looking for examples. Teens trying to decide who they want to be. They watch Bill. Feel his love and acceptance.
Bill is paying it forward. His alleluia is heartfelt. And real to those he serves.
We’ve all risen after defeat. Difficulties which tested our faith. Our patience. Our trust in Him.
One step at a time we emerge from the darkness. Recognizing new strength. A clearer vision. Perhaps somebody reached out. Made a difference in our life.
It’s what makes the music beautiful.
The challenge is this.
Remember where you’ve been. And who you’ve now become. Find your voice.
Find your alleluia.
Then pay it forward.