Interview: Jubilee

May 2, 2009

Jubilee is a new ministry that has already made a big impact on church life at NHF. We thought it would be nice to get the inside scoop on how Jubilee was formed. The following interview with Jubilee’s director, HyunMee L., offers an inside look into how Jubilee was formed and how it fits into NHF’s ministry.

Q. Where did you grow up and how did you get into music?

I was born in good ‘ol Seoul, Korea, and within the first year moved to Manila, the Philippines. Helsinki, Baghdad, Heidelberg, Mannheim followed, then High School in NJ, College in NY, grad and post-grad in Hannover.

My dad loves to sing, and there was a piano in the house (a real one and a toy one). The toy piano (non-electric) is fabulous, and I recommend it to all who are 5 or under. So I started playing, singing and dancing as a toddler and amused my big family. Soon I was doing it professionally – uh, just the piano, of course.

Incidentally, Christine’s time in Manila overlapped with my family’s time there.

Q. What inspired you to start Jubilee?

Just deciphering what was already evident at NHF:

  1. Delightful children – check.
  2. Adults who are gifted and filled with love for God and children, who seemed ready to share in such an undertaking.
  3. A pastor and elder who love and are always enthusiastic about good music (and knowledgeable).
  4. NHF moved into a space where the acoustics are lovely.
  5. NHF’s vision statement.

All the ingredients were so evident. I asked the Lord, “Is there anything you’d like me/us to do?” One day, while Andy and I watched the Beijing Olympics on TV, a gigantic children’s chorus was featured, and immediately I thought – if those kids were all singing God’s praises, wouldn’t that be AWESOME! (if you’ve seen BOLT, gotta say that like the hamster).

We knew our excitement about a children’s choir at NHF might fizzle if the congregation didn’t see a necessity for it. Well, Ken, Lauren, and Siow-Ying’s commitment to be teachers, parents’ encouragement and NHF enthusiasm all helped point to one conclusion – that God was confirming the idea and saying “well, time to get to work!” So that’s how we got started in September 2008.

Q. What preparations did you make to get things moving? This includes stuff you had to do yourself as well as people you felt you should talk to in preparation.

I asked the Lord. I asked Pastor Ed and Christine (head of Christian Formation). I also talked to members and those who’d become teachers – this actually happened even before the idea of a children’s choir came up. It was interesting to find diverse talent, experiences and vision already stirring during normal conversations. I talked to parents, who in turn talked to their children. Some children were excited, some not so much (“what, you want me to sing?!”). But they came around and are singing excellently, our dear five!

The teachers (Ken, Lauren and Siow-Ying) have been incredible. Our combined experience — performance, teachers of younger children, music administration, program and curriculum building, outreach, even our different personalities –were instrumental.

We also had to find or edit sheet music that fit the voices. Also, Andy brings up many project ideas during our one hour drive down to church every Sunday. One of them is the upcoming CD project.

And now, with upcoming events, we coordinate with the ministry leaders. They have very different roles, but work as one body.

Q. Did anything surprise you during the development of this ministry (good or bad)?

Partly surprise, but mostly marvel.

1. There are many children at NHF, (with more to come!!) but the Jubilee teachers came to the realization that there were only five children in the targeted age group. But you all know the outcome, God wanted to bless NHF with the five this year, and give the teachers time to adjust and grow. Praise God for Christie, Megan, Chloe, Chris and Daniel! And that is just the inaugural year. Additional children will join and graduate Jubilee in the years to come. We look forward to them all.

2. It’s important for the children to find connection with other NHF ministries and adults. Working with them as one body has been lovely. I believe we will discover God’s purpose and gain a deeper understanding of the scriptures when we work together with ministries that are already in place. This includes Missions and Outreach, Resource, Communications, Praise Team, Walter …

Q. Were there any specific Bible verses you referred to when developing the concept?

Yes, here in random order:

  • “I tell you”, [Jesus] replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Lk 19:40
  • “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” Mt 21:16 and Ps. 8:2. Both texts are very intriguing, I hope people reading this read them if they have time.
  • The definition of the year of Jubilee, which I think is summed-up nicely by Michael Card’s song “debts forgiven, slaves set free – Jesus is our Jubilee”
  • The parable of the talents.
  • The story of Jesus feeding 5000. Jesus did not ask the boy if he brought something he didn’t have – “did you bring butter and lemon to go with that bread and fish?” He used what the boy had to fill needs miraculously! It serves as important reminder to work with what we have and bring them to Jesus instead of sometimes letting our preconceptions get in the way.
  • All of Psalm 150. It ends with, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.”

There are more, but you get the picture…

Q. What’s a typical rehearsal look like?

Rehearsals are a little over an hour before service on Sundays. We start with prayer, do vocal warm-up exercises, and learn songs. We practice the melodic lines and ponder the meaning of the lyrics. Sometimes we have to do a little recording. One of the children closes us in prayer.

We are aiming to fit in basic music lessons somewhere next season. A season runs parallel to a school year.

Q. Has the vision changed at all since Jubilee started?

The Vision? No. Seeing how possibilities and ideas become a reality? Yes. More ideas? Yes. But we will start with small steps.

Q. If I remember correctly, Jubilee is part of Christian Formation. How do the two fit together?

Christian Formation oversees all of the teaching for children and youth at NHF. Jubilee is now part of a bigger umbrella ministry for all ages called Music & Productions which, in turn, is part of Christian Formation.

Q. Has your perspective changed now that you are expecting a child?

For Jubilee? Not really. Perspective and vision are still the same. The only thought that does cross my mind is how I will manage my energy. But Jubilee has a good team of teachers. Also, NHF has lots of moms, and I’m sure they’ll have excellent advice.

Q. What excites you most about this project?

God’s Kingdom is being broadcast. Woo-hoo!!

Q. What’s next for Jubilee?

There is an Asian Festival in Valhalla on 5/30. (I hear all of NHF may plan to make it a picnic day there so hope to see everyone!). The Resource Ministry learned of it and mobilized us to participate. During Pentecost, God’s Spirit enabled people to speak in tongues to the nations gathered in Jerusalem. In 2009, God brings Wei-Jing to us so we can sing of God’s love and salvation! In Cantonese! Oh dear, hard language! Pray for us!!!

In July, Jubilee will raise funds for missions at an event our M/O ministry is in the process of organizing. Please show a lot of love and purchase Jubilee’s first album! We’ve had Walter J. as guest soloist and he will join us again. We are looking forward to more guest artists!

Q. Do you have any needs? If so, how can others get involved?

I love this question. There are many areas now with “CF Music and Productions Ministry,” which includes Jubilee. As to how it can grow and what it can do – much depends on what our congregation brings to it. And that may look different every year.

If you answer “yes” to any of the following, we would like to hear from you!

  • Do you have children between ages 6 and 13?
  • Do you like talking to neighbors and inviting people to events?
  • Do you play an instrument, love video or audio recording and/or editing, drawing/designing, printing (thinking CD + covers), driving, cueing people to go on and off stage, writing stories/songs, taking pictures, writing editorials, want to teach singing (and maybe even motions to it) – and anything else that would help “behold and broadcast the majesty and mercy of God” – we need you!

Many thanks Hyun Mee!


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