Mark 16:15 commands believers, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Many Maranatha music graduates have answered that call, finding their musical training to be helpful in more areas of ministry than simply playing an instrument.
Darcy Anderson is one such example. A 2017 English Education graduate with a minor in Music Education, Anderson felt called to missions during her second year of college: “As a single young woman, I expected that God could use me as a teacher on the foreign mission field.” Shortly after graduation, the Lord opened a door for her to teach missionary kids in the Philippines. “The missionaries had been praying for assistance with their children’s education,” Anderson reflects, “and through my aunt, Ruth Potter, we were connected and the Lord began to demonstrate His will for me.”
Anderson currently assists three missionary families in the Philippines, teaching English, math, and science to nine students from Tuesday through Friday of each week, in addition to tutoring at Bob Jones Memorial Bible College. She is also active in her local church in the Philippines through choir, orchestra, and special music as well as the children’s ministry on Wednesday evenings.
Another MBU grad who answered the call to missions is Ruth Potter, a 1998 Church Music alumnus also serving in the Philippines. While working to pay off school debt after graduation, Potter prayed about what God would want to do with her life. “My music pastor was friends with the missionary I am now working under,” she recalls. The missionary asked him if he knew anyone available to teach piano.” Potter answered the call, expecting to stay only 10 months. However, that short-term trip lasted for 4 years, and she realized that God was leading her to a long-term commitment. She has been serving as a career missionary in the Philippines for the last 3 years.
Potter spends her days studying the language, teaching group piano, and assisting wherever needed in the music ministry of the Bible college and her local church: “My responsibilities include teaching piano, teaching children on Wednesday nights, organizing junior church, playing for congregational singing, helping with special music and choir accompaniments, giving devotions in the girls’ dorm, speaking in ladies’ Bible classes, reproducing copies of music that our school has composed to be used in local churches, playing in the school orchestra, and developing relationships with young women for the purpose of ministering to them spiritually.”
Jillian (Brewer) Narcisse graduated in 2007 with a double major in Piano Performance and Biblical Counseling. After graduation, she taught music at a Christian school in Pennsylvania for 5 years while looking towards a future in missions. “Since I was a little girl, I believed that I was called to be a full-time missionary, and I had always prayed to be led down that path.” In 2014, she married her husband, Ellis, who was already serving the Lord as a full-time missionary in Bolivia. “God has been so good to fulfill the dreams He gave me from childhood,” Narcisse comments. She has lived in Bolivia with her husband for the past 4 years, recently adopting two young children.
Narcisse spends the majority of her time as a mother and housewife but is also involved in various ministries. “In addition to church services, we run a youth group and kids’ clubs in our town and in a neighboring village. I teach English classes to children twice a week during the school year as well as lead various ladies’ Bible studies. Visiting and receiving visitors – forming friendships – is also a big part of our ministry.”
All three missionaries agree wholeheartedly that their musical training at Maranatha was invaluable for what they do today. Potter reflects, “My actual training as a classical pianist and hymn player is useful every week and even daily. I am frequently amazed that God would give me a tool like that so I could enjoy the privilege of loving the Filipino people. I sometimes joke that I am an EMT – an ‘emergency musical technician’ because I am sometimes called to help in pretty desperate circumstances. This might involve a piano missing several notes right in the middle, or so badly out of tune as to be a whole step flat. But, if I am not available they will have no one. I have played for weddings in these situations, or for choirs who needed to perform at a conference but had no pianist. I have made recordings for students who are conducting cantatas but have no pianist. And I was never a pianist who stood out at MBU. If God didn’t use ordinary people, I would for sure have a very boring life!”
Music students learn more skills than simply playing an instrument at MBU. Narcisse observes that playing piano at an advanced level has taught her discipline, self-control, and faithfulness: “The most important thing is to use time wisely for God’s glory and to leave the end result (the performance) to Him.” Anderson adds that her music teachers consistently displayed humility in every situation, a character trait that is essential on the mission field. “Going to a mission field, one of the best tools you can have in your toolbox is humility – humility to realize that you’re a servant to foreigners, humility to recognize that your American ways are not always the best, and humility to remind you that the spread of the Gospel is far more important than creature comforts. I am so thankful for professors who consistently demonstrated a character of humility in and out of the classroom.”
The music faculty are grateful that so many MBU music grads, both on the mission field and in the states, consistently live out Maranatha’s mission to develop leaders for ministry in the local church and the world to the praise of His glory. “I appreciate the emphasis that was placed on seeing musical abilities as a way to minister,” writes Anderson. “I am grateful for professors who pushed me past what I thought was my limit, and who taught me how to approach a difficult task with the mindset of doing it for God’s glory.”
article written by Makayla Stevenson