Acceptable Notes

Alex and other music students
Abi Christian
September 14, 2010

Solitude can be a way of life for many student musicians.  They spend long hours alone in a practice room and sometimes compete with peers for practice space, performances, and uncertain careers. When InterVarsity student Alex Cap left the College of New Jersey for a summer music program in North Carolina, he expected to put in the long hours and hard work at the piano. He didn’t expect to find a thriving Christian community—or that God would use him to encourage others spiritually, as well as musically.

A Timely Connection

During his first few days on the program’s campus at Brevard College, Alex found himself sitting in a crowded cafeteria next to two students discussing Basileia, an InterVarsity leadership training conference that Alex also had attended. He introduced himself and met Esther Shin, who had organized the summer’s Christian fellowship.

Esther had attended Brevard’s music program the year before; and knowing few people, she put up a flyer advertising a time for Christian fellowship on Sunday nights. Seventeen students showed up. The community named themselves Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone), and this past summer grew to almost 50 students. As Alex learned about this group, he thanked God for connecting him with these students and prayed that God would use him over the summer.

Working as for the Lord

Soli Deo Gloriawas looking for leaders to start six small group Bible studies. During the school year in New Jersey, Alex led an InterVarsity Bible study for other musicians. The experience prepared him to lead in Soli Deo Gloria. His small group began studying Colossians 3 and talked about how people's hearts and actions change because of Christ. When several non-Christians joined the fellowship, Alex realized the need for a seeker-friendly discussion on Christian faith.

“I wanted to give seekers the opportunity to ask whatever questions they had on their mind without the fear of being judged, feeling singled-out, or being overwhelmed with Christians giving them answers,” said Alex. Alex and a Christian friend met with a student who recently became a believer and a young woman interested in learning more about Christianity.  

They discussed how the Christian faith does more than produce “good” people—choosing to follow Christ is about being in a right relationship with God, which sometimes requires a shift in perspective. In the music world, the emphasis on perfection can be oppressive. But as Christians, musicians can acknowledge their humanness. Their fingers may stumble, but they remain loved by God and their offering of music is still beautiful and acceptable.

“In the practice room and in the concert hall, I try to remind myself to focus on why I make music,” said Alex. He doesn’t play for improvement or fame, but refers to the passage the small group studied in Colossians. “I want to practice as if working for the Lord, using this gift that He has given me and sharpening my skill so that I can more effectively use it for His glory,” said Alex.

No Matter the Place

At the end of the summer, Alex gave the young woman a Bible and encouraged her to read the Gospel of John. He plans to stay connected and be available for more questions. As he reflected later, Alex said, “God was able to use what little I thought we had for a lot of good.”

Students like Alex who were willing to serve made a positive impression in the program. As an outreach event, Soli Deo Gloria organized a concert, and students shared stories of their own faith or how the faith of composers inspired the pieces the audience heard. As a result, many non-Christians were invited into spiritual conversations about God and music, 25 Bibles were given away by a local church, and two students made decisions to follow Christ.

As another school year begins at the College of New Jersey, Alex hopes his experience at Brevard will help him as he mentors new Christians in the InterVarsity chapter. InterVarsity students may have taken an academic break over the summer, but they continue to ask God to use them wherever they are.

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