Hey Everyone! It’s been awhile since I last posted something, but so much has happened. I’ve needed to write for a long time, and finally now, 36,000 feet in the air, on a plane, I’ve found the time to do it.
(We’re currently heading to Taiwan to minister at 青年學校 [young adult intensive school] in Tainan for a week, and I’ll be leading worship.)
Where I’m At
It’s been an eventful last few months. I’ll start with where I’m at—not meaning my current physical location, which is as I mentioned, somewhere above the Pacific Ocean, four hours from our destination of Taoyuan International Airport. I’m currently in the middle of my Third Year at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Third year is different from First and Second Year in that it’s an internship, and for nine months you have the privilege of interning for a Bethel leader (there is an interviewing and selection process), and they become your mentor.
I personally have two amazing mentors this year: Theresa Dedmon (director of the Creative Arts Department at Bethel) and Luke Hendrickson (live stream producer and musician for Bethel Music). Both of these leaders had been highlighted to me since Day 1 at Bethel. God really opened doors for me to build relationship with them over the course of these last three years, e.g. in First Year I wrote the song “Reformers” inspired by Theresa’s message on Kingdom Creativity, and I went on two international ministry trips with her in Second Year, and with Luke Hendrickson, we co-produced my debut album “Suddenly” in First Year and knew each other even before BSSM, working on FRCC’s studio album “從未見一位,” which Luke helped produce.
What I’ve Been Doing
Music Creativity Track
For my internships, I do a couple of different things. With Theresa, I help to teach the Music track in the First Year Creativity Track. That has been really fun, because Theresa has basically given me total freedom to come up with curriculum focused on teaching and activating the students in songwriting and prophetic worship (which I’ve had a couple years experience in teaching for JOS and 青年學校 already).
In our last semester, we had over forty students in the music track and nearly all of them were able to present a new song they wrote for their personal projects. Some of them had never written a song before or didn’t even dare to believe they were creative at the beginning of the class. But isn’t it amazing how fast we can silence those lies by simply DOING what we thought was impossible?
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh
Music City Service
I also help to oversee the Music City Service, which goes out every week to play live music at venues across Redding. We have four teams this year, and they play at four different venues every week, shifting atmospheres and expressing their God-given talents and passion through music and fellowship. I am so proud of them!
I’ve grown to love all of my students so much because of their uniqueness, purity and hunger. You can really see the hunger for God that these students have; they are willing to step out of their comfort zones and “act crazy” for God, because many of them have given up much to be here. I have students from the opposite coast of the U.S. and from the opposite sides of the two oceans like the U.K. and Hong Kong.
Theresa’s team also recently helped out with the Holiday Feast at Bethel, which is an annual event where we invite hundreds of homeless people and lower income families to Bethel, and we serve them. For the ladies, we provide a free makeover and photo shoot. For the children, we have an immersive Christmas-themed story that they can go through and experience. And everyone enjoys a hearty decadent meal served with silverware and fine china.
I also had the opportunity to compose the song for the musical, “The Greatest Gift,” which was performed for everyone who attended (this song was also my first original orchestral production—click here to listen). After the musical, Christ Overstreet came on stage and preached the Gospel. Fifty-one people gave their lives to Jesus Christ! What an honor it was to be part of that!
Live Stream for Bethel.Tv
With Luke, my internship hours are usually on Sundays, and we help live stream all of the Sunday worship sets that end up on Bethel.tv. That looks like waking up bright and early on Sunday mornings (actually, it’s still dark), recording soundcheck at 7AM, mixing the 8AM service and live streaming the 10:30AM service. Break till 4pm and then come back to live stream the 7PM service. One of the best parts of this internship is that we get to “rub shoulders” with pretty much all of Bethel Music’s amazing worship leaders and musicians when they come back into the studio before and after sets. It’s a treasured experience for sure. 🙂
What I’ve Learned
Simply being with Luke and getting to learn from him has been one of my favorite things this year, because he is one of the nicest and most positive guys I have ever met. He’s taught me a lot about what it means to be a leader and influencer, how to communicate well and give positive feedback, why we do what we do and how to do it well. Basically, he’s taught me a lot about life, even without so many words.
Honestly I have never heard him say a mean thing nor react negatively to anyone. He’s got an attitude as golden as the sun. And I mean that with all sincerity and appreciation. It’s not that he isn’t honest, but when he is he always makes sure to follow the “sandwich rule”: give a positive comment before and after each negative comment. Here’s a classic Luke example: “I usually love your ideas. You have great ideas… that just wasn’t one of them.” Haha. He’s shown me that you can be a great leader, someone that people look up to and respect, without being strict and demanding.
As John Maxwell puts it, “Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.”
I can say the same about Theresa. Her life is such a testament to Christ’s power that I’m constantly blown away by His reality in her life. At the beginning of this year when Theresa was sharing her life story with us, I specifically remember thinking, “Wow! This woman is a living saint, a true woman of faith!” and with great anticipation, “And I get to be her intern for a whole year!”
The way she responds to trials in her life and clings onto Jesus through the good and the bad, the way she responds to God’s favor and the praise of man, the way she handles her overly active schedule and juggles multiple worlds, including an international itinerant ministry, two creativity tracks at BSSM, Arts on Stage world at Bethel, dozens of city services, and multiple art classes and encounter classes, in addition to mentoring her 10+ interns and volunteers… blow my mind! The woman is superhuman!
Not only is she an artist and a reformer, she is a lover of Jesus and an incredible spiritual mother. I recently had my monthly 1-on-1 meeting with her, and her words of wisdom brought me so much life. She reminded me, “Melody, at the end of the day, it is your relationship with Jesus, the one that isn’t seen on the outside, that will carry you. I have no doubt that you will succeed externally, but internally it is your daily communion with Jesus that will sustain your joy in ministry. And remember, your journey won’t look like anyone else’s journey. It is good to hear what people say about their journey, but always take it to Jesus and ask him, ‘but what do You say?’ and ‘how can I apply this to my life?’”
These are words I will continue munching on for some time. I have been so inspired by her to live a life of communion with Jesus, because I’ve experienced first hand how quickly burnout happens when we don’t abide in Him. And Theresa’s life is a sure example of how fruitful and sustainable a life can be when we abide in Him and live powerfully.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
What I love the most about both of my mentors is that their lives speak way more than words. I can honestly say that while I’ve learned so much from them in their area of skill and expertise, I’ve learned equally as much, if not more, from who they are as people. They live the Kingdom and carry Christ-likeness like few people I’ve ever met. And it’s not even a set of rules or religious practices that they do; it’s Christ in them, in their personality and in their passion. They carry Him so effortlessly; it’s just part of who they are.
Doing Flows Out Of Our Being
With that said, I know that I am totally where I’m meant to be this year, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow here. When May comes around and I graduate from this place, I honestly don’t know where I’m going to go or what I’m going to do, but at least now I have a bit more of an idea of who I want to be. If anything, I’ve learned that BEING is way more important than DOING, and when our BEING is right, our DOING just flows out of it.
And at the end of the day, the world is most impacted by these people who understand that what they do flows out of who they are, because these people become living testaments, or “incarnations,” of their life message and not just another wandering soul craving for attention.
I’m Still Learning
I’m still learning this lesson–that who I am is more important than what I do. I feel like I’ve been trying to learn this lesson for the last 25 years. It’s tough for me, I think, because I have such a high “Achiever” personality. I gain a lot of my identity from my accomplishments, and that is a huge reason why I “put out” so much—people always tell me that I seem so busy because I’m always working on a project.
It’s partially true. When I’m not busy, I usually give myself something to do to stay busy, because if I’m not working on something I don’t feel alive. Maybe that’s just my personality, but I want to learn how to balance that with knowing how to rest and simply enjoy God. I know I need to learn how to do nothing and still be happy with myself, because God is happy with me.
Just like my two mentors, Theresa and Luke. I can tell that if today they were to lose all of their influence and platform, they would still be happy, because their happiness isn’t rooted in their doing. It’s rooted in who they are as God’s children. And yet at the same time, a huge part of who they are as God’s children has to do with what they’re doing in their respective fields. They have found their purpose in their art or in their music. Theresa is a daughter and an artist. Luke is a son and a producer. It’s not an either/or. Both of these identities feed into each other, and they’re both important.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Many of these thoughts come from a book that I’ve been reading, which Theresa recommended to us. It’s called The Calling Journey: Mapping the Stages of a Leader’s Life Call by Tony Stoltzfus (check out his website here). I’m only in chapter 2, but I already love it. It’s helped me to understand that each person has two callings: a doing Call and a being Call, and both are equally important. I won’t get into that now, but if you’re curious about it I highly recommend getting the book.
Final Thoughts & Prayer
I have a lot more on my mind that I want to share, but I’ll do that in another post (maybe on my return flight. haha). I just wanted to focus this post on my amazing mentors and how much they’ve already impacted my life (and the lives of people all over the planet). They are amazing mentors and forerunners, and I look forward to five more months under their leadership.
Thanks, God, for amazing mentors. And thanks, God, for valuing who we are just as much, if not more than, what we do. We are YOUR KIDS with a PURPOSE, and with our priorities straight we can change the world.