Global Missions Project, a nonprofit ministry designed to take Christian musicians on missions trips, does little to advertise, relying instead upon word-of-mouth to do the job — and it does. For nearly 20 years, musicians have been traveling the world with GMP to present the gospel through music.
Recently 52 musicians from 30 churches convened in Fulda, Germany, from as far north as New Hampshire, as far west as Texas and as far south as Florida.
Though GMP is an interdenominational ministry, many on the trip were Baptists, including nine musicians from Alabama. Eight from Dawson Memorial Baptist Church and one from Meadow Brook Baptist Church, both in Birmingham, met at the airport May 20, not realizing they were bound for the same 10-day missions trip.
Thirty-two Americans, 17 Germans and three Ukrainians made up the Germany Celebration Orchestra, all with the same purpose.
“The people who travel with Global Missions Project have two things in common: musical talent and a passion for serving God,” said Kathy Milburn, a drummer from Georgia.
A good option
When Dan Mullis, associate music and worship minister at Dawson, was looking to jumpstart missions activities following the COVID-19 pandemic, GMP came to mind. He went on his first trip in 2004 and has since been numerous times — six to Cuba, and one each to Ireland, Greece and an Asian refugee camp in North Carolina.
Mullis, his wife, Carrie, and six others from Dawson took advantage of a church funding incentive to go to Germany. Laura Brasseale joined her husband, Sammy, as the only nonorchestra participant, but found her niche as the “merch girl,” selling GMP CDs.
Making an impact
Camp Kirkland, director of GMP and a prolific composer and orchestrator, joined the Celebration Orchestra in Germany as a trombone player, while friend Richard Kingsmore, another arranger and orchestrator, served as music director.
“The Germany projects have been very special to me because of the relationships that have developed … with our dear friends from Germany,” Kingsmore said.
Eugen Sidelnikow, Johannes Schröder and Kingsmore planned the trip for three years. It was supposed to happen in 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic.
The orchestra performed seven concerts throughout Germany, with attendance reaching more than 500 for a single concert. Orchestral arrangements, many written by Kingsmore and Kirkland, presented the gospel musically and scripturally using a theme of “peace.”
Mullis was surprised to learn of his influence on the theme development following a conversation he and Kingsmore had years earlier when he said his church had successfully used the gospel outline modeled from “The Story” (theStoryfilm.com) for a major presentation.
“God lines the dominoes up and makes them fall perfectly,” Mullis said.
One attendee raved about the harmonies. Another said he saw “a few persons who cried the whole concert.” One woman recently diagnosed with cancer hoped to hear a repeat of one of the songs she had heard in 2019 when GMP performed.
“I’ve been weak all week, but on Saturday I got strength,” she said. “It was an answered prayer.”
She heard “You Are My Hiding Place” sung by Kingsmore’s wife, Gina, and left the concert comforted.
GMP participants also were impacted.
Flutist Susan Kohari from Tennessee said, “What I remember most is the worship experience. I felt God’s presence everywhere. One of my favorite parts of this trip was hearing the worship songs being sung in German.”
While in the country, GMP participants got a glimpse into Germany’s culture.
“I always enjoy seeing and learning about other areas of the world, so the sightseeing was an added blessing,” noted Alyssa Thomas from Alabama.
A tour of J.S. Bach’s birthplace, plus a demonstration of authentic keyboards Bach played, a walking tour where Martin Luther spent his youth, Beethoven’s home, a museum detailing Russian-German history and a stroll through a historic village were among the stops.
GMP connects with people worldwide through music to help build personal and lasting relationships.
Dale and Isanie Surratt took that a step further. They met and got married after Dale visited Cuba with GMP. Now they both travel with the group.
Trumpet player Bob Pawling said GMP was a “source of redemption” for him after a difficult divorce, as he enjoys using his time and talent to minister to others.
Fletch Wiley, who also plays trumpet, and Dale Biser, a bass player, were first-timers. Wiley was impressed by the servant hearts of the musicians and the expressions of faith he witnessed. Biser was nervous about the trip but his mother, an oboist, convinced him to join her.
“The grace of our conductor and help of fellow orchestra members helped me get through it,” Biser said.
Both hope to participate in another GMP trip.
Thomas summed it up for many participants: “I didn’t really know what to expect on my first GMP trip … but now that I am back from Germany, I can’t count the ways I was blessed!”
For more information, visit the GMP website here or visit Global Missions Project on Facebook. To read more about the background and history of Global Missions Project, click below.
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