It is exactly one year this weekend since a group of young people approached Ruth to ask if she would help teach them more about music, because they had a vision of forming a choir and going out into the villages of Malawi with the Gospel, using music as their way of reaching the people. She was impressed back then by their desire to take the time to become better musicians themselves before rushing into this ministry. And also by their enthusiasm for writing their own Bible-based songs in Chichewa so that the message they bring to the villages is God’s Word, and is conveyed in a language and musical style that speaks to the hearts of the people. In a culture where choir competitions, and making recordings, seems to be the end goal of most church music groups, it is refreshing to find a group of mission minded young people, whose only desire is to grow God’s kingdom.
The small group started meeting every Wednesday afternoon in our home to learn to read music, to sing, to learn guitar and keyboard, and for some it was an opportunity to improve on skills they had already learnt from others. They invited others into the group, consciously involving young people from different denominations so that no one denomination dominated. The name Echoes of Grace was agreed, and they started to compose their own songs using Bible words.
Last Saturday, 2nd April 2016, was a landmark day for Echoes of Grace – their first concert in Blantyre. Although the choir still has much to learn, Ruth felt it was time for them to have the encouragement and impetus of really feeling they are moving forward towards their goal. Only those who had shown real commitment to rehearsals were allowed to perform, and were given a uniform. And the eye-catching African fabric certainly did help to unify the group in more than just a visual way. Following their official launch, Echoes of Grace are more focussed than ever on their goal of ministering to the villages of Malawi.
There was no mistaking the joy of the occasion. Have a listen to Echoes of Grace singing one of their own compositions, Ima Nji (Stand firm)
However, Echoes of Grace still have a long way to go. Musically, the first concert showed lots of areas where the choir needs to improve and to vary its style, and Ruth will be helping them to do this over the future weeks and months. Their own compositions were well received, and Ruth plans to get them creating more. As far as reputation goes, the concert did not bring in very many people, and so Echoes of Grace need to find more opportunities to spread their name among churches in Blantyre so that they have local supporters to help maintain their ministry to the villages. And financially they have a long way to go. For the concert, some equipment was bought, some hired, some borrowed, but when they go “on the road” they will need their own equipment – everything from mic stands to speakers, and a generator.
Apart from our own updates on Stepping Out With God that will bring you more news of Echoes of Grace, you can follow their own website and FB page. If you would like to help these young musicians get off the ground and get closer to achieving their goal of evangelizing in the villages of Malawi then contact us directly.