I have just returned on Feb 1st from having spent two weeks in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, recording vocals for their new reconciliation CD. From a very hot and sticky 31 degrees, back to snow and ice! Many thanks to those who were praying and for all your continued support.
Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire: Jan 21st – Feb 1st 2019
We were actually a team of three for this visit, since I needed a sound engineer to help run the equipment. Since I knew the singers had not worked together or recorded before, I was keen to also invite a male singer with experience at coaching vocalists. Louange Mukunzi and Baraka Espoir (both in their 20’s) are both from Rwanda and were available to make the trip. They did a great job; I actually could not have done this project without them. It’s great to give the next generation the chance to grow and learn by experiencing this journey in creativity and reconciliation for themselves.
‘Be strong and very courageous’ – Joshua 7:1
Thinking about it since, I am still amazed at the transformation that took place within the space of just one week. The first meeting on Wednesday evening with the singers was not at all promising. They were all inexperienced, never having been inside a recording studio before, and struggling to believe that something good could possibly happen. Some expressed strong opinions, but seemed unsure of themselves. I noticed that few of the girls were willing to make eye contact with me. We tried to run through a song but there was no means of amplifying the backing tracks that night. So we talked. I asked them if they truly believed that God was in this project. They looked at me, almost for the first time, and said yes. Thursday evening was better. We met at a different venue and there was an amp for the tracks. We ran through every song – there was a better sense of togetherness in the group. We prayed together.
But earlier that day, we hit a roadblock. The studio that had been chosen by AGIR was not at all appropriate. We ended up looking at 3 others and choosing the studio at Trans World Radio, which seemed ideal; the price was also right. It was agreed to set up the portable studio equipment at 10am the next morning. But Friday was another trying day! After 5 hours, I still could not get any decent sound out of the mixer. It was old, defunct and fit only to be thrown out! But Ebenezer, who had been supportive throughout, encouraged me and said he would make a phone call and try to hire another mixer. Somehow, a new Yamaha 32 channel mixer arrived within the hour and it worked perfectly!
But, having lost the evening, we had already sent the singers home, having asked them to return on Saturday morning at 8am. I got back to my room that night feeling utterly exhausted. I remember praying, ‘God, please give me a better day tomorrow!’ and asking Him whether I was actually going to go home from this trip with anything at all! It was then I remembered the Scripture I had been given before I left the UK. Joshua 7:1 says ‘Be strong and very courageous.’ There was also a promise that I would see ‘transformation’. How often it has happened before, that I have really needed to hang on to the word of God in the dark moments while on mission!
Transformation – a new family of singers with a heart for their nation is born!
The next day day was a truly wonderful time. The singers sang their hearts out all day and the results were at times so beautiful. Towards the end, I invited them into the control room to hear the results on one song that went particularly well. They cheered, and began to spontaneously sing and dance! On Sunday, we were joined by three older worship leaders who had heard about the project. One came specifically to pray for his nation. It was great to be able to find ways for each of them to join in and contribute. At last, after nearly 12 hours, everything was complete and we were able to pack up, go home and enjoy a rest day on Monday!
‘Au revoir, et donnons la gloire a Dieu!’
My french is quite poor, but there was such an outpouring of joy, thankfulness and praise on our final Wednesday evening together with the singers! Many gave testimonies of how the whole time had been truly ‘une belle experience’. I made a note of a few comments and have put them below.
It’s worth bearing in mind that many of these young people have had traumatizing experiences of war in their nation that have affected them personally, in a culture that gives little time or opportunity for compassion, support and ‘togetherness’ outside of tribe. What was especially wonderful to see, was that these young people had ‘found’ each other; now they were going to stick together and support each other as they continue to meet. They have yet to choose a name for the group, but have chosen a name for their CD: ‘Pere, Gueris Ma Nation!’ Not the first time I’ve worked on an album of that name!
‘Truly, it was a wonderful experience!’ – Celine
‘The atmosphere was so good; it was possible to feel relaxed..’ – Etienne
‘When we arrived, the prayers, the songs, the lyrics, the sense of togetherness …and having the chance to work with a vocal coach like Baraka was so special! – Marie-Nowell
‘I am grateful to God for this opportunity to be part of this family’ – Epiphanie
We have still to raise all the funds to complete the mix and mastering; please pray for us as we still need a further £1500 to be able to manufacture some CD’s to take back later in the year.
‘Hope for a Thousand Hills’ book launch – December 22nd 2018
There’s just space to mention how wonderfully well this event went! It was held at Malmesbury Abbey jointly with the Abbey bookshop. Emily spoke so well and many people came to listen and support us. In fact we sold 40 books that morning! Joel and Em are putting aside all the funds raised to send to Rwanda in support of Rabagirana Ministries.
DIARY DATES – SPRING 2019
- Feb 13th – 15th Joel & Emily moving house (I’m helping!)
- Feb 18th – 24th J & E, Faith & Tess staying with us
- Feb 20th Filling Station, RAU Cirencester
- Feb 24th Malmesbury Abbey 4pm cafe style worship – me lead
- March 4th – 31st Editing & Mixing ‘Pere, gueris ma nation’
- March 20th Filling Station, RAU Cirencester
- April 6th – 13th Skiing in Zermatt (Jean & I)
- April 21st Easter weekend
Love from Dave & Jean
With special thanks to The Crossroads Trust.
The Crossroads Trust is a Registered Charitable Trust, set up in 1987 with the following aims: to assist in the encouragement of missionary activity designed to foster the spread of the Christian faith; to promote better education between and within diverse cultural settings, and to provide relief for the poor and needy in society. Since 2005, the Trust has focussed solely on supporting the reconciliation ministry of Dave Bankhead and ‘We are One!’ Trustees include; John Jenkins (Chairman) and Simon Shaw. Registered Charitable Trust No: XN74834