More than 60 members of Trevecca’s new gospel choir spent last weekend singing in Haitian Nazarene churches in Orlando, FL.
The choir, which formed this semester, took its first road trip to five small Haitian congregations to minister to Haitian community in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and to promote Trevecca to the students of the Haitian churches.
“I think we accomplished everything we set out to accomplish and more. We were both touched by lives and touched lives, we saw a great response from the Haitian students, and our students grew through the experience,” said Dr. John Ray, the director of the Gospel Choir.
One of the students who went on the trip was Ari Welch, a sophomore at Trevecca, says the tour gave her an intense love for all the Haitian people they sang for.
“It made the joy of the Lord I’ve heard about my whole life a reality to me,” Welch said.
The group charted two buses and a van and spent all night Friday making the 14-hour trek. They returned late Tuesday night
The chief purpose of the choir is to act as a representative from Trevecca to the churches of the Nazarene denomination, the Secondary purpose is to provide a spiritual and musical experience for all students enrolled at Trevecca.
The choir plans to sing for homecoming, and churches around Nashville, as well as sing for next year’s Fall Celebration and Trevecca Showcase. Then, in the spring they will go on another tour.
TrevEchoes reporter Shadaye Hunnicutt is a member of the choir and went on the trip. She kept a journal about their experiences. Here are a few excerpts.
Gospel Choir: First Tour to Orlando
6:40 p.m. Saturday, April 10
We arrived at Orlando Metro West Church, the first stop on the tour. Hanging out before the show I learned that Kelsi Fulton, our Piano accompanists, is the daughter of medical missionaries in Haiti. She taught me how to say “S’ak Pase” which is: “Whats up?” in Creole. I yelled it as the group of boys, who ignored our PR table earlier. They immediately walked over to my table and shook my hand. I felt extremely cool as they replied to me.
The service started out kind of slow, and quiet, but then we sang ‘Enough’. Originally sung by Barlow Girl, the song talks about how Gods love is more than enough for all of our needs. That was when the hands went up and the congregation started yelling Hallelujah! The night just got progressively louder after that. When Jinou Metellus, a Haitian student at Trevecca, got up to tell her story of how she ended up at Trevecca, all of the Haitian people screamed for her. I could tell there was a sense of pride for their country and their people. Jinou sang ‘Grand En Fidelite’ which translates to ‘Great is thy Faithfulness’. Our last song ‘Give him Glory’ has a Caribbean feel to it. As we sang the congregation stood up and danced and clapped and sand, and cried. Children yelled with adoration, and the teens started dancing along with the music. They liked it so much they yelled for an encore.
We just got out of the service at The Way to Calvary church of the Nazarene. It was Phenomenal! There was not an empty pew in the church. It was amazing to me how the Haitian people worship and praise God. They were standing and shouting by the time we sang our second song.
This was the first Bi-lingual church service I’ve even been in. The pastor would preach in Creole and then fill us in on what he was saying, then he would talk to us in English and stop and say “excuse me, my people will understand me better if I speak Creole”. He was a funny man, and expressed how thankful he was for Trevecca being the first Nazarene university to ever send a choir out to the Haitian churches.
“They’re not here just to sing, they’re here to lead in worship,” said Pastor Brutus, “If I just wanted to hear them sing, I could call and ask for a CD, but what they are doing is so much more than singing songs.”
The benediction song was in Creole, but I recognized it as “Glory, Glory Hallelujah” so a few of the choir members and I started singing it in English. Suddenly I felt this crazy feeling in my stomach; I wanted to go dance with the children. It was the weirdest thing, because I don’t even really like children, but for this moment I felt like I needed to move two rows back and sing with them. So I did.
I danced my way back to the pews where the children were sitting and I sang and danced and clapped my hands with them. They all looked up and smiled at me. I went back to my seat to get my flip camera and when I turned around the entire choir was mixed in with the Haitian church members singing and dancing and Praising God. It was the most beautiful time of worship I have ever experienced in my life.
My Haitian friends I met at Orlando Metro West Church are here tonight and remembered me. They came up to me and hollered “S’ak pase” and I answered back “Na bule”! I like that we have some free time to interact with the youth and children before we sing for them. I feel that way, we’re not just a group of mostly white, middle class college students singing some worship songs and then going back to the safe home we call Trevecca. We actually become friends, and learned a little bit about each other.
I just had to pull myself out of the arms of a seven year old. The church did not want to let us go, and honestly none of us really wanted to leave our new friends.
As all the choir members loaded on the bus to leave for the hotel, children were still crying for us to stay, some of us were crying to stay. All the Haitian people that hadn’t left yet waved at the bus as we drove down the dirt road and back onto the highway. I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again, but I hope that I don’t ever forget them, or what they’ve taught me about church, the Love of God, and family.