I’ve wanted to tell this story for a long time, but I haven’t been quite sure how to do it or what to say.
It’s about an experience, and a song connected to that experience that now brings me to tears every time I hear it. Although it is a popular song, it’s relatively unassuming and not necessarily a “stand-out” amongst other worship music. The song is “Great Are You Lord” – but it’s not the song itself that makes me tear up, it’s the memory of a moment so beautiful it almost literally knocked me off my feet.
Last fall, I had the opportunity to attend Youth for Christ International’s gathering of YFC leaders from over 100 countries. A truly amazing thing about YFC is that although the countries and chapters all operate fairly individually, there is a uniting sense of purpose, mission, and vision across all staff and volunteers – no matter where they are from. The whole week of the conference is filled with meetings, seminars, speakers, and lots of prayer and collective worship. We had sung the song, “Great Are You Lord” several times over the course of the week, but that last night, something different happened. As we sang the bridge, the worship leader invited us all to sing it in our native language.
I was surrounded by my friends and beloved colleagues; Esther sang in French, Wael sang in Arabic, Pascal sang in Swahili, Lilia sang in German, Vladimir sang in Russian and 300+ others across the room sang out in the language of their heart. Have you ever been in a room with hundreds of people from around the world passionately singing out the same chorus in different languages – especially after they’ve spent a week loving on each other, celebrating a variety of unique perspectives, and uniting in a common vision? And do you know what the bridge of that song is?
All the earth will shout your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord
Just imagine it with me. People from literally all over the earth, shouting praise together in languages from all over the earth, hearts crying out to God in celebration and thanksgiving, agreeing that our Lord is so great. It was the most beautiful experience and it is the most beautiful memory.
If you know much about YFC, you might know that there is a word that pops up over and over again in mission statements, slogans, visions, etc. all across the organization. The word is “every”. That every young person would know God and experience life fully in Him. That every young person, in every people group, in every nation, would join with us in their own language and sing of how great He is.
All the earth.
Those words are both a celebration and a prayer. A celebration that we are all the earth, united together in Christ, and a prayer that more will join in the song with us.
Great are You, Lord!