by Avo Kazazian – Communications Coordinator & MEC Worship Team Member
On October 23, 2021, Horizons Lebanon was honored to host a worship band competition for local churches in Beirut. This event, named Sawti Ilak—Arabic for “My Voice is Yours”—featured local church worship bands who each performed original songs. Over 50 Horizons staff members were there to facilitate and encourage the gathering, which provided a platform for each band to bless others with their original music, encourage other bands to sing new songs to the Lord, and worship the Lord together.
In all, five worship bands participated, after two withdrew due to COVID illness. Bands shared their powerful testimonies of how they had received the songs from the Lord, the harsh conditions under which they had written them, and the beautiful inspirations behind them, which encouraged and touched the hearts of those present. The first-place winner, from Trinity Baptist Church, performed an original song called “Doune An Nudrikuka,” which means “Even When We Failed To Realize.” As a gesture of encouragement, the winning band received the opportunity to record their song in the Horizons’ MEC studios, and film a professional music video produced by Horizons’ media team. Additionally, the members of all bands received home free gifts for their contributions to the event.
In all, approximately 250 believers from over 30 local churches gathered at the event, which was held at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS). Together, they worshipped in a wonderful venue that featured high-tech music equipment, presenters, and a live social media broadcast. They voted for their favorite songs using a state-of-the-art voting app created by the MEC Tech team for this specific event, and a group of Christian professional musicians including faculty at the Lebanese Conservatory of Music served as a jury to give their feedback and guidance! This pioneering event filled the crowd with awe, wonder, and excitement.
After the performances, the event came to completion with a warm time of fellowship and refreshments, filled with great conversations, joyous moments, and the beautiful sound of many Christians from different backgrounds talking and laughing together. This further enhanced the spirit of unity and cooperation, which was the main goal of the event. One thing was very clear: the hand of the Lord was on us, pouring out His love, joy, and grace on all present, and using Sawti Ilak as a platform to build new relationships between believers from various churches.
In addition to those who attended the event, hundreds of social media followers watched the live broadcast online from all across the world. The churches and the people expressed their sincere gratitude for our hard work and generosity. Many said they are excited to continue Sawti Ilak every year! They also have asked us to host more events like this, to bring believers together and release a unique blessing. Many expressed, “This kind of atmosphere is exactly what we needed.” Others said, “In a time when the country is in deep distress and turmoil, you brought us joy and encouragement, which we really needed!”
“Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord all the earth.” Psalms 96:1
This event is one of the many MEC Worship projects that we have prayerfully received from the Lord. As a newly established cohort, MEC Worship seeks to help, support, and raise up worship musicians within the churches of Lebanon, to bring about more breakthroughs, and along the way deepen connections with God and each other. Some of our future projects include more themed worship events, and a database and app for gathering and sharing Lebanese worship songs. Additionally, MEC Worship has started offering music lessons that are currently training over 50 believers!
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1) is one of the principles that lie at the core of the MEC initiative. Through many endeavors, skills, and talents, we hope to help create and induce a holy atmosphere of unity and godly camaraderie, which enable the plans of the Lord to be made manifest in Lebanon and the Middle East.