Testimony from Sam Defranco
1.Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who stand by night in the house of the Lord! 2.Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord! 3.May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who made the heavens and earth! Psalm 134 (ESV)
Scripture tells us very much about how God blesses His people. It is easy to see His blessings daily: this beautiful planet, the food we eat, our families and children, trusted friends, a great sermon, beautiful music, and countless other blessings.
So, how do we bless He who made the heavens and earth? The psalmist calls for the servants of the Lord “who stand by night” to bless God by lifting up our hands to the holy place in adoration and praise. This is a beautiful image of how to bless God. He desires and is worthy of our adoration and praise with everything we have!
Even at night, when no one is around and no one is watching, we are called to actively bless the Lord.
I am a musician. I have played guitar for over 40 years with my first “band” being a church worship team. As my playing improved, I left the church scene and performed professionally in rock bands playing secular music for crowds of a few hundred to over 20,000 on a few occasions. I learned a lot about the mechanics of performing music and was able to hone the craft but I came to realize that this wasn’t sustainable or spiritually healthy.
So I set aside music altogether to focus on marriage, family, and an engineering career. All of these have blessed me beyond words.
In the late 1990s, a strong desire to play music rose within me and I saw a notice in our church bulletin for a newly forming worship team that was seeking a lead guitarist. I tossed the papers aside but kept seeing it in the bulletin week after week after week.
I believe God was calling on me to bless Him with the gifts with which he had blessed me. So I finally conceded and called the band leader and was quickly invited into the group. In retrospect, I find this amazing that I started with church music, went secular, and was brought back many years later right where I started.
Our family joined Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church about five years ago and were quickly drawn into this amazing community. I really wanted to get involved in the music ministry, but waited impatiently, I must admit, to see what God had in mind and about 6 months later at a Sunday service I got the answer.
A very nice lady gave a brief talk on the Audience of One ministry and the need the ministry had for worship leaders, musicians, prayer leaders, singers, and audio/visual technicians.
I firmly believe that the best way to become engaged in any ministry is to find a need and simply fill it. I believe that this blesses God and God will bless us in return.
My daughters all sing well and we love praise and worship music, so I asked my oldest daughter during the service if she would join me if I volunteered. She smiled and said “yes” and thus we began as a small team praying and worshipping for two hours a month in the prayer room. Our team has continued to grow. We now have two prayer leaders, several vocalists, guitars, bass, keyboards, and even drums on occasion.
I have led an Audience of One team at the Great Southwest Prayer Center for about four years now; we are in the prayer room two hours a month, in the evening.
So, why do we do this? Simply, prayer and worship blesses the heart of God. I believe that Audience of One makes Him very, very happy.
It is also very powerful.
Our days prior to the sessions are opposed. Many “things” get in the way. It would be simple to say it is just life getting in the way, but I think not. Music sheets are lost or forgotten, work meetings run over, batteries go dead, cables don’t work, traffic is heavy…
Yet, we persevere to get there and God’s spirit is present. We spend two hours playing our instruments as best as we can, singing, praying, crying, laughing with joy, while reading His word right back to Him.
The quality of our performance does not matter. What matters is that we come to him as we are, with our poor offerings, as broken vessels to bless Him and for Him to fill us.
For over four years now, we have left every single Audience of One session refreshed, recharged, and at peace.
I am also extremely privileged to serve on Grace’s worship team. I am amazed every time with God’s presence in that place!
Wow. We bless God (Ps 134:1, 2) and God blesses us (Ps 134:3).
God is faithful and true.
What a blessing!