Leading the songs for a crowd of energetic kids at The Garden in Bakersfield last night was fun, but my favorite part was ministering to individual kids at the end at our merch table — or, more accurately named, our merch and ministry table. It was a blessing to pray for, to prophesy over and to present bite-sized individualized teaching to kids who stopped by the table with their parents. Shoutout to Elizabeth Leigh, whose prayers and prophecies have helped guide my life in Christ, for helping remind me to focus on this — via WhatsApp, all the way from Nigeria, where she is currently ministering. More than the music, these events are truly about ministry. I hope some of the kids got good takeaways about who they are in Christ and that they remember it in the future. A big part of faith is remembrance!
Of course, music plays a key role and is the anchor for an event like this Kids Worship Night. As I looked out on the kids singing our songs, including ones I wrote about five years ago while living Kansas, I realized how much this moment was a dream come true — to be touring churches, playing shows with a band, and having professionally produced CDs (and T-shirts!) available for sale.
I like knowing that the kids can listen to the songs at home, and it is special when I can sign a CD for a kid with a special message. I always wanted to play at churches and minister to kids like this, and to get to do it with someone so incredible as Anthony Salerno, our producer and my co-artist and husband, is such a blessing!
God really does answer prayers!
It was sweet to look out at kids raising their hands and singing earnestly and to recognize how they really wanted to worship the Lord. Children’s hearts are so precious to God. As Anthony mentioned during his min-sermon, if kids can get serious about God before high school, the likelihood that they will stick with Jesus is much higher. May these children always stay on God’s path for their lives!
Also, not that I’m biased or anything ;) but Anthony gave a great little sermon. He spoke to the kids about the importance of being worshippers of Jesus and being an example to the world of being fearless no matter what because we can trust God. He is such a great speaker because of his heart and his Godly wisdom, plus his charismatic energy, and I am so proud of him!
Additionally, I want to mention our bass player and drummer, both of whom we met for the first time that day. Jose, our bass player, jumped in to serve with such a good attitude and he did a great job. And we were especially impressed with our drummer, Dumisani, because he is only 13 years old. Such a talented kid! Thank you to Will Gutierrez, our friend and pastor at The Garden, for recommending Jose, and to our Aunt Julie, who is a secretary at First United Methodist Church in Bakersfield, for recommending Dumi. And thank you to Jared and Julie Vawter for hosting us overnight! We love our Bakersfield relatives!
(the MUSIC TUESDAYS part)
It was neat that the Kids Worship Night was on a Tuesday because it was our first public music event in Bakersfield since our final night of Music Tuesdays in February 2020, right before the whole world changed. In fall 2019 and early 2020, while God was doing amazing things in our relationship and preparing us for marriage, Anthony and I enjoyed coordinating worship nights, known as Music Tuesdays, at a pizza restaurant in Bakersfield. It was so meaningful to partner with different youth group bands from various churches across the city and bring people together for Christ.
Since then, we have done other shows and worship events with Bakersfield churches, but always outside the city, such as Soar Camp with Canyon Kids in the mountains between Bakersfield and Los Angeles. For more information on our experience at Soar Camp, click here.
(On a much smaller scale, we led songs for a small worship session at my cousin‘s house in summer 2020, but that was just a small private house show.)
Music Tuesdays not only served as a great way to lead worship, involve teens and evangelize to the community, but also it helped lay the foundation for what we are doing now in Bakersfield, though we didn’t know that then! Music Tuesdays was a special kind of outreach because some people would come specifically for the worship, while others just showed up to the restaurant thinking they were getting some pizza and ended up also getting to hear the praises of God and enjoy live worship music! Participating youth group bands and pastor-artists from Music Tuesdays included:
Tom Hollenbeck’s youth group band from Valley Bible Fellowship
The former church Higher Ground, headlined by Will Gutierrez, who is now pastor of The Garden, where last night tonight
Kaleb Amos’ uprisingcanyonhills youth group band
Praise and worship singer-songwriter Sean Phillips from Living Word Foursquare Church of Bakersfield
Real Life Worship band from Real Life Church with Ronnie & Shannon Lemen.
We are grateful to continue to serve in Bakersfield in any way we can and continue to stoke the fire of God in this city. We believe that Bakersfield is a spiritual hotspot and it is just the kind of place where revival can really spread like wildfire. As Elizabeth texted me today, I just want to “keep the fire 🔥 burning.”