Thursday, 20 December 2012

An Evening with the Freedom Singers



“It was so beautiful, I was wiping away tears all evening long!” one woman told me after a Dec. 13, 2012, Freedom Singers concert here at our colony.

I’m not sure how to adequately describe a Freedom Singers concert in a mere blog post, but I’ll try to give you a glimpse of what it was like. (If you don’t know who the Freedom Singers are, you may want to read my review of their book, The Price of Freedom and visit their website)
Together with Glenn Dumontel, Freedom Bound Agency, I’d been planning this day since June, when December seemed too far away. So just the thought of saying ‘Good-Bye’ to November was already very exciting, as it meant we’re into the month I’d been looking forward to for so long. My Google calendar boasted a ‘Freedom Singers’ event for Dec. the 13th, a reminder that was as unnecessary as one telling me December the 25th is Christmas. Still, it was sweet seeing it there.

To start the evening, our choir sang two songs. The first was a Christmas song, ‘He Brought us Joy’, written by James Waldner from Wingham Colony. The second one was, ‘The Price of Freedom’, a song that I was inspired to write after seeing the Freedom Singers for the first time in February. I’m not a songwriter, so was I surprised how easily the words came to me – like somebody else was giving me the words and I was jotting them down. However, I could not have done the music part without my sister-in-law Karen's expertise. After that concert, I also started dreaming about bringing this group to my colony sometime. Little did I know back then that before the year was out, we would be performing my song in our gymnasium with the Freedom Singers sitting in the front row! “This is so special!” they told me when we sat down, appreciation shining from their faces. "Thank you so much!"

Simon and Stefan singing a Romanian Christmas song
The first strains of their opening song, ‘Just a Little Talk with Jesus’, set the tone for an unforgettable evening! Simon Ivascu is a wonderful storyteller, and in between songs he shared snippets of their story. Since we did this concert as a fundraiser for the Freedom Singers’ work in Romania, he also showed a slideshow of the poverty in their home country and told us how they go there a few times a year to help these people - a beautiful demonstration of Matthew 25:35 in action:  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…


The entire evening left a lasting impression on all in attendance, but there were some moments that added an extra sparkle. One of those came when Simon addressed our children sitting in the front row. “When we arrived today I heard you singing a song. Do you remember which one it was?” Too stunned that he was talking to them, no one answered, so Simon continued, “It was ‘Silent Night’. Would you like to sing it with us?”
Finally a few of the children found their voices and chorused, “Yes.” With the Freedom Singers leading, our children beaming, all of us sang this beautiful carol together, while Simon captured the moment on his iPhone. For many of the children this was the highlight of the evening.

 One of my favourite Christmas songs is, ‘Come Make a Place’. Thanks to You Tube, I knew that the Freedom Singers sing this song and wanted to hear it live. (You can see it on the book review post mentioned above.) Before the concert, I had asked Simon if they’d please sing it and he kindly agreed. Not to take anything away from Wesley’s solo on the You Tube video, but Craig Smith has an amazing voice and like every other song they sang, it was beautifully complimented by the harmony Stefan and Simon provided! No wonder then, that I felt like singing along at the top of my lungs when they sang We Are So Blessed.

Throughout the evening we fully enjoyed this group’s superb harmony and inspiring story. It soon became evident that their deep faith in God is the driving force that takes them all over North America and beyond. Their story and music go hand in hand – in their bleakest moments, whispering songs like Because He Lives, brought them hope and courage to hang on. Thus, today as they share their music, they’re able to sing some of the same songs and many others with resounding conviction!

Their finale song was ‘Home’, a powerful and touching rendition about our eternal home. While the Freedom Singers melodious voices filled the room, I couldn’t help thinking that we’re getting a glimpse of heaven right here! And I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Thank You Glenn Dumontel, Freedom Bound Agency for helping me arrange this concert. Heartfelt thanks to the various colonies that shared this special evening with us. I know I speak for all who were in attendance: Simon and Stefan Ivascu and Craig Smith this was a magnificent evening – you’ve created a beautiful Christmas memory that will stay with us forever.  
Îţi mulţumesc foarte mult! (Thank You Very Much!)
 
Home - lead by Craig Smith

3 comments:

Shelly said...

What a wonderful evening! I would have enjoyed seeing it myself, but thanks to your great descriptions, I felt like I was there. I'm impressed you write songs, as well!

Linda Maendel said...

Thanks, Shelly! Like I said in the post,I'm don't write songs on a regular basis...rhythm and rhyme cramp my style a bit (-: And this one just came to me...I'm glad I got it on paper...and that our choir agreed to sing it when the Freedom Singers were here. Very special!

Kathy said...

Great write-up of what seemed like a wonderful event. I would have loved to be there. Now I have to wait until I get to school to watch the clips.