By Dawn Kelley
What is our motivation?
At the 2016 Zambia Intensive School of Worship conducted by Next Level Worship International, I was asked to teach a breakout session on leading worship teams. For these particular sessions, I prepared an outline for each day; however, each day the outline was thrown aside as we began to discuss spiritually burdensome situations the worship leaders faced in their ministries. Even though I was a continent away from home, the questions they asked were way too familiar: questions I faced daily in the States, lessons in leadership I learned the hard way, challenges I will hopefully overcome by the grace of God. So it was refreshing when the Zambian worship leaders (ZWLs) began sharing what God revealed to them and they began to answer each other’s questions! I was more of a facilitator than someone with the answers!
The most challenging question a ZWL asked me during the school was not during one of the breakout sessions. It was a personal question asked of me to this effect: What was my motivation for singing their songs in their language during worship?
It never occurred to me my motivations would be questioned… and this ZWL’s line of questioning was not presented disrespectfully; in fact, his honest inquiry made me look at myself from their perspective. I assumed because I went to Zambia with the best of intentions people would take what I did at face value. But Zambians are clever and extremely polite – they know things are not always what they appear to be.
Quite frankly, I could not answer his question; but Psalm 96 came to mind: “Sing to the Lord a new song… [Proclaim] His glory among the nations.” (NASB) The Gospel compels me to sing a new song in another language, to “adapt as much as I can for the profit of many… and do all things unto the glory of God.” I am thankful I was able to adapt to their culture quickly because God placed this desire in my heart; but my ultimate motivation remains to serve God.
As I served Him, in His goodness and grace, God blessed me during this trip when the ZWLs sang an original Bemba song by ZWL Lweendo Bwembya. I didn’t know what they were singing but as they sang, I was stirred to sing a song of gratefulness to God for His grace, faithfulness, forgiveness, and mercy.
Later, when I asked Lweendo to translate her song, God proved His faithfulness by revealing our mouths were proclaiming the same attributes of God but in our own languages; the Spirit of God dwelling in each of us – the breath of the Almighty – giving us understanding of our souls’ song to God.
Bemba lyrics English translation
Nasumbula lshina lyenu, Taata I exalt Your name, my Father
Nasumbula lshina lyenu, Yaweh I exalt Your name, Yahweh
Lesa inkumbushenu shacila unweo wandi, Yaweh Lord, Your mercy exceeds my life
Uluse lwenu lwamuyayaya Your mercy endures forever
Ububile bwendenga umuntu, Yaweh Your favor has made me who I am
Natotela, Natotela, Natotela I thank you, I thank you, I’m grateful
 Job 32:8 (NASB).