My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Monday, January 26, 2015

The Spirit and the Bride

Early in January, we led a weekend workshop for some of our staff and kids about worship. For me, it was almost the culmination of years of waiting. 

Since 2010, I have led worship during our Sunday gatherings here at CORM. When I first started, it was challenging, knowing that many didn't understand the words and I wasn't sure how to engage this    different culture with their drums and off-beats and dancing. My home church was quiet and structured and had a feeling of sameness to it each week. This was an all-new experience. 

So when we moved to the children's village in 2011, I backed away from leading, instead opting to have the staff and kids lead. I joined in the dancing, despite my lack of understanding in the local language songs, and lack of rhythm. I clapped and laughed and loved my time hearing the joyous music of praise.

This last year, I took up my post again in our worship gatherings, and would lead worship times after we had all been danced and drummed out. For awhile, it felt so rote. I pulled to engage our kids and staff in the songs that came from my heart language...the Chris Tomlin...the Jesus Culture...the Hillsong...the Kari Jobe...the Bryan and Katie Torwalt...and all the rest. At times, it felt like I was singing solos up there. A few songs seemed to stick with the kids, so those ones showed up more often than naught.

And then, Dean and NanaAma and their family came to join us here at City of Refuge Ministries as Directors of Campus Ministries. And suddenly, we were revitalized and encouraged. It felt fresh and exciting! Our worship gatherings were filled with shouts of "Hosaaaaaanna" when the Spirit of God began to move. And I knew that we were in for a new level of the Presence of the Lord on our campus. 

So, when we conducted our weekend workshop, all spearheaded by NanaAma, we planned out such great lessons of truth for our staff and kids. She had recieved a vision for a movement of worship, bringing in the Kingdom of God in a powerful and deep way. We taught on the new covenant we have through Christ, the Tabenacle, intimacy with Christ, prayer and intercession, the movement of the Holy Spirit, and so much more. It felt rich and deep and beautiful. And then we came together and planned the worship for the weekend. We gathered around mics, sang with all passion, danced, and drummed, and celebrated, and praised, and pressed in.

And that Sunday night, it was our first gathering of The Spirit and the Bride, the name God gave to NanaAma for this movement of worship...because isn't that what worship is all about...the Spirit of God ministering to the Bride, His Church. (Oh, that picture is so powerful. That passionate lover of a God, pursuing us, His Bride, wooing us to Himself, longing for intimacy, for us to fully know Him so that we can fully know ourselves as we were created to be.). That first night, I led the team. It was my first actual experience leading a worship team. Despite my bravado, I was nervous, but there is nothing to fear when God shows up. And He really showed up. I opened my eyes occasionally to see how God was moving and saw worshippers (of every size) on their knees, jumping with hands raised high, in postures of surrender. God moved and it was unreal.

The past few weeks, we have had multiple teams leading the worship times and have seen God move, but last night, He came again with such power, it rocked us all!

NanaAma led this week and I went through these weird stages of insecurity throughout the whole week. Keliy, who is here with us for the next 6 months and staying with me in my little house, is an amazing vocalist and musician and I felt continually challenged by her musicianship. NanaAma is a powerful leader and I felt challenged by her. And Sunday night, we started off a bit rocky and wouldn't you know it, but the second song in, a string on my guitar broke. And the fourth song in, another string broke. And somehow, that simple thing took away my worry on playing the right chords and singing the right notes, and allowed me to lay it all down to say, "God, it's all for you." And He came and moved and didn't stop moving. We could hardly stop when our ending time came along. We wanted to keep pressing in. We wanted more of God. We sang and danced and jumped around and shouted our praise (and partly jumped around to avoid the rain of bugs flying in our faces and down our shirts) until far past time, and when we stopped, all we could do was breathe...

The Spirit of God so desires relationship with His Bride. I love watching His pursuit of Her. I love being a part of ushering Him in in all His glory. And He's changing me in the midst...reminding me of who I am and that I have so much more in me to share than what I limit myself to. He's changing us, because now we are seeking His face together in unity. And unity is an incredible, incredible gift. And we just know that soon, very soon, He will be changing our community, because how can it stay the same when the weight of His glory rests in such a way.

I have a sense that even after five years of living and doing ministry here, we are just seeing the beginning. It's unfolding in new and surprising ways. And in this season, we won't be satisfied with what was expected before. 

We want more.

And He is showing up to bring restoration to His Church. 

It's just the start.

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