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Worship at the Jesus Week   7-13 Oct 2012

Songleader Debbie Preest: My parents took me to a Catholic church in Christchurch as a child, so I knew there was a God out there somewhere;  and the nuns taught me to play the piano.  But we all stopped going when I was 9.  Later, in my 20s, the Holy Spirit began stirring in me a wonder and a hunger to know what really was the truth and what was my eternal destination—questions my previous “taste” of religion hadn’t answered for me.   My quest began with a dream;  and through encounters and conversations with various people, my understanding grew. 

My first encounter with a real Spirit-filled church was at the New Life Centre in Christchurch.  All I recall was the worship, which pierced my soul and touched my heart so deeply. The song was “Sing Alleluia to the Lord” and as the Holy Spirit touched me I started to shake and cry. I felt embarrassed for my friend who had invited me, but of course she knew all along what was happening.  Two days later I went with her to a weekly healing and prayer meeting.  After hearing the gospel message, I gave my heart to Jesus and asked Him to take over my life, confessing my sins.  I also wanted the strange tongue I had heard coming from other people in that room, so after prayer I received an infilling of the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues—all on the same day!!  That was the beginning of a spiritual journey, growing and being taught from God’s word—with persecution and many trials to follow.  This “new life” was not received well at all by my parents, who thought I was being brainwashed by some sort of cult.  But I knew it was real and no-one was going to take it away from me.

Soon afterwards, I was water baptised, and met Mike at the same church, and we got married.  Someone asked me if I played an instrument, and asked me to join the music team at a small church in Woolston, though I hadn’t played for many years.  I was given my first Christian song book and had to teach myself to play by chords.  We moved to Greymouth, and began the long journey of learning to play in a team, and lots more practice learning those chords! Since then, we have had the privilege and joy of being part of teams that have ministered at a variety of gatherings and meetings;  the most challenging ones were when I was asked to form teams and help lead worship for a Bill Subritsky crusade and a 6-day conference up in the North Island a few years back.

Recently we went to Africa with 3 others, to Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.  I took along a small keyboard to play but mostly I really enjoyed hearing the Africans play and worship.  Boy, do they know how to worship—I loved it!!  In my heart I desire to go back to Africa.  I felt a real connection with the people and land.

So I have gone from being too nervous to play in front of my family, to being enabled by the Lord to play in front of many people—and love it!  God anoints and gives us strength.  I have in no way “got there” by any means, and struggle with failures and weaknesses and temptations just like anyone else, reinforcing all the more how dependent I am on Jesus, the “hope of glory” in me.  I long and seek to see broken down the walls that divide, cripple and keep peoples’ lives bound and ineffective (including my own), to release God’s great big love and power to bring wholeness and restoration and unity and a deep love among us so that the world may know that there is only one true God and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.