Mountains of Ministry: Faith Chorale’s “Alleluia” Tour
“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”
While many college students across the country spent their spring break resting at home or relaxing on a beach somewhere, twenty nine Faith Chorale students embarked on a grueling tour of the Western United States. The Chorale covered 3,700 miles and five different states over a twelve-day stretch in Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho.
There were no luxury accommodations, no airplanes, and no fancy tour buses on the trip. All twenty-nine students packed into the Faith shuttle and one van, spending most of their day traveling, ministering to churches, and finishing the night in sleeping bags in guest homes and churches.
Typically, hosting church members would house four to five students per home, with an occasional overnight in a church building. “We slept on couches, floors, beds…everything except the kitchen table,” said Jonathan Balasa, Chorale Officer and Accompanist. “Pews and chairs are pretty comfortable if you turn them around and make a little bed.”
Anyone who has a brother or sister, or has spent countless hours on the road with a family member or even a friend, knows a long road trip can start to wear on people’s nerves and patience. While Balasa acknowledged there are always those struggles with every trip, it didn’t stop the group from ministering with a glad heart.
“One of the challenges of every tour is to sing from our hearts,” said Balasa. “It’s a great opportunity, but it’s also a struggle. People in the chorale go through challenges. We’re tired, we’re stressed, and there are things on our hearts and minds. We addressed these every day in prayer. As one chorale member shared, ‘we praise God not just when we’re feeling well, but when we are in trials too.’”
The group visited eleven Baptist churches and two Christian schools during their trip, ministering in churches that ranged in size from thirty people all the way up to two hundred. The typical program included around fifteen songs from the Alleluia: Praise is Becoming to the Upright program, directed by Dr. Irving Van Hooser, as well as congregational singing, student testimonies, and a video promoting Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary.
While the schedule was demanding, the Chorale was able to enjoy some site-seeing of God’s amazing creation in the mountainous region, and even sing their “Alleluia” song on top of the Continental Divide.
“One of the unique features of this trip was the distance and the sight-seeing,” said Balasa. “Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho, (widely considered the “Niagara Falls of the West”), Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, and the overlooks on I-70, were amazing. We also enjoyed rock climbing on I-70 and our visit to the Continental Divide in the Rockies, where we sang Alleluia, looking down at the tiny little road that goes underneath the mountains at 12,000 feet.”
One of the biggest challenges for the group was the diverse weather conditions they encountered, including high wind, rain, blizzard-like conditions, and dry heat—sometimes all in the same day. The most memorable moment of the event was a result of the wet weather, according to Balasa, when they encountered a car that was stuck in the mud in Bryce Canyon. Even while running the risk of running late for their ministry appointment that day, the Faith students sprang into action.
“About nine guys took off their socks and miraculously pushed the car out of the ditch, said Balasa. “After we got the car out, we spent probably the next 45 minutes trying to get the clay off of our feet with bottles of water. The girls were literally washing our feet in a bucket. It was a total team effort.”
As God’s sovereignty would have it, the two ladies were actually from a place in Germany where the Chorale goes on its trip to Europe. “We gave them a New Testament and a gospel tract,” said Jonathan. “The Lord has a Divine appointment. We were rushed to get to our concert in the evening, but the Lord gave us the grace to get through.”
The Chorale concluded a long tour with encouraging remarks from the areas they visited—areas inhabited by small pockets of Christian believers in a region dominated by Mormonism.
“Groups usually don’t come this far west, so congregations were really appreciative,” said Balasa. “Many people mentioned what they really appreciated about our Chorale program was that they can see it’s genuine. They can see it on our faces and in our hearts. We’re not just there to perform music. We went there to the wilderness to encourage churches and we really mean what we are singing and playing.”
Faith Chorale Tour 2018: A Director’s Perspective
For several years the motto of the Music Department has been “Proclaiming the Glory of God Through Music.” I saw that motto lived out in the lives of the Chorale members this tour as they praised God for Who He is, for His creative beauty in the Western States, and for their unity of spirit in ministry. Alleluia! –Dr. Van Hooser
Chorale Tour Members:
Hannah Lynn Balasa
Jessica Lee Paterson
Lyndi Lee Shepard
Nathaniel Tyler Poole
Daniel Lee Greenhaigh
Drivers: Aaron Brudtkuhl and James Stevenson
Director: Dr. R. Irving Van Hooser