Twenty Years of Ministry in Music
by Louise Craig & Paul Johnson
In 1994, more than 100 men raised their voices in praise at Gladstone Camp Meeting. And not one of them had any thought of ever singing together again.
Only one person present on that Sabbath envisioned more than a one-time event--and that was newly-elected Oregon Conference President Alf Birch. Conductor Lou Wildman clearly recalls Alf saying, “Lou, do you have any idea what you have here?”
“No, I didn’t,” says Wildman. But he then shared his vision of an expansive global ministry for these men.
That camp meeting chorus became the Oregon Adventist Men’s Chorus (OAMC), singing at Gladstone, around the Northwest, and eventually, the world. In July, OAMC kicked off a year-long celebration of its 20th anniversary.
A lot happens in 20 years. Not quite by accident, but certainly by the Spirit and not without a little fear and trepidation, Wildman and co-founder Pastor David Schmidt began the chorus with more worship and prayer time than usually happens in a choral rehearsal. The formula for OAMC’s success was born.
The power of OAMC comes from the behind-the-scenes ministry of men praying with and for each other, and the bond of fellowship holding each other accountable to be men of God. Only then can the joy of singing together move the hearts of audiences around the globe. There is no audition process to join OAMC. A desire to be used by God is the greatest qualification. Lou often says, “When we show up, God swings into action.”
“One day after we returned from our mission to South Africa in 2012,” Wildman said, “I looked through singer rosters from the last 20 years. I was astounded to discover that more than 1,000 men had sung under the OAMC banner around the world.”
That number will grow as OAMC prepares for Mission to Ukraine 2014, in response to an invitation from the Ukraine Union Conference to launch strong outreach programs in eight cities. Next April, OAMC will be joined by more than 200 singers from OAMC chapters in Romania and Spain, as well as singers from Africa, Canada, France, Poland, and Ukraine.
“We never thought of ourselves as a traveling chorus,” Schmidt says, “but God clearly had other plans.”
As exciting as international missions might be, OAMC is also energized by, and strongly committed to, its outreach to student singers. “Involving our young men is vital not only for the future of OAMC, but to help keep them involved in their churches,” Wildman explains.
Thanks to Alf Birch, dedicated singers and their families, and various donors and supporters, OAMC’s music has soared through seven countries: the United States, Canada, The Philippines, Kenya, Tanzania, Romania, South Africa, and next to Ukraine.
God’s call to the various ministries of OAMC embraces any willing person, man or woman. Learn how you can be part of the mission of OAMC at www.oamc.org.