Although I’d spent 2 years volunteering in Belgium, it was as a Continental Singer that I discovered a broader French-speaking Europe.
Behind the Audition
It was admittedly with a pang or two of nostalgia that I auditioned with the Continental Singers back in the mid 1990’s. I had lived in Europe for two years and had even seen the French Continentals come through the city of Liège, where I’d lived. This would be a chance to combine something I loved with something I missed… singing and Europe. I auditioned here in North America but had my information packed forwarded to the European office in Rotterdam, Holland.
It was in July of the following year that I arrived, backpack and suitcase in hand for my first rehearsal camp in Dronten (Netherlands). We spent roughly two weeks learning the music and choreography before hitting the road for 3-4 weeks of touring through Belgium, France and Switzerland. Each night we sang in a different concert venue; mostly churches, but we had a couple of theatres and outdoor venues as well.
What I had experienced in Belgium, over the initial two years, was reinforced time and time again. People very much appreciated hearing the Gospel sung in their own language as opposed to being sung in English and understood either through translation before or after each song, or via overhead transparency as the song was sung (yes… you read that right. Those were the days of overhead transparencies). While there were of course some local and national French-language musicians, the Christian music industry was very small in comparison to that of North America, so people enjoyed having the Continentals come through. (It was during this first tour that I met my wife Liz, an Italian who had been born and raised in Belgium, we would marry two years later.)
Touring again & again…
The following year I returned as Assistant Director for the French Tour. Another rehearsal camp in Holland, another repertoire and another pass through French-speaking Europe, but this time with a bit more responsibility. Two years after that (1 year after Liz and I married), I returned for a third tour but this time as Tour Director.
With a total of three tours under my belt I had become both comfortable with Europe in general and very familiar with some areas in particular. There were several churches that had us back each year, so there were times when it was like coming back to visit friends.
It’s been incredible also, to maintain contact with and watch from a distance as some of the people that I toured with have grown in their faith and ministry; serving in their local churches and being examples to us in various ways. We look forward to being closer to some of these and sharing what the Lord has done in our life since those days.
I’m reminded again, as I think back over these experiences, how God’s hand has been preparing us for not just months, but years! When the perfect will of God begins to fall into place in your life, you will look back and see a string of experiences which, at the time, may have seemed unrelated, but in hind-sight… blow your mind! If you’re currently in-the-process and not totally sure of where things are headed… be patient. Let God direct your steps now and you will see later where they lead!
Once again, French ministry and French-speaking Europe is not new to us… in one sense, it will be a bit like going home (almost literally for Liz), and we can’t wait to be there!
Thank you for your prayers and your support!
See you Saturday!