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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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A Different Drummer




by Andre Morgan

Here’s the rest of my story of how God used my desire to play drums to draw me into a relationship with Him.

Without time to say proper goodbyes to friends and family, my mother, my little brother and I moved to St. Croix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. We moved in with my grandmother and uncle.

Things were vastly different for me—no father around, and no music filling the house. Instead a hurricane of influences—both good and bad—pounded my mind.

At home I had a strong, determined mother, who fought against all odds to provide for us; a God-fearing grandmother, who was very serious about academics; and also a hard-working uncle, who was accomplishing great things and being a great example for my brother and me.

Away from home, my new friends exposed me to some negative things. Over time my talk began to change. My walk began to change. The music I listened to changed, which challenged my mental uprightness. I felt like a ship without a proper anchor, being tossed about by any strong wind. My temper was getting out of hand, and I was becoming hardheaded.

In the midst of all this confusion, I continued to be a faithful member of the school band and the church drum corps. No matter what secret wrong I was into, I always found peace in practicing my trumpet for hours at a time almost every day.

Just right

Whether out in the yard, in my room, or on stage, I experienced in my private realm of music something that felt right, something that was in order, something that caused me to carry myself differently. Whether playing with the band or privately playing songs from the hymnal, music seemed to bring out another side of me.

The language of harmonies, melodies, and rhythms was one my spirit was especially attuned to. This revelation blessed me as I began feeling a sense of worth that challenged my meddlings with drugs, weapons, and pornography.

Around the end of my ninth-grade year, my church’s Pathfinder club started a steel pan group that needed drums. While listening to them practice one day, I started drumming beats to the music on a nearby wall. The director noticed the rhythms and appointed me as the drummer!

I had no idea how to play the drums, apart from all the practice sessions I’d had on my pillows and the imaginary ones in my head. But a chance to play the drums had finally come and I wasn’t going to turn it down!

A few weeks later, my brother and I made a summer trip to Grenada to visit our dad. The visit turned into a two-year stay, due to complications resulting from Mom’s lupus.

It felt great to be back in Grenada with my other family members, but things weren’t the same as we had left them. We now lived with our dad, stepmother, and two half sisters. This new situation presented several complications.

We didn’t live with our aunt, cousins, and grandmother anymore, which made for much more idle time. As I became more and more aware of my more-than-average sensitivity to music, the devil also noticed. He began using my God-given musical passion and aptitude as a hook to lure me into the depths of hip-hop,

R & B, and both conscious and dancehall reggae.

I just loved the thrilling feelings I got from the music! One minute I could be in hard-core gangster mode with hip-hop, the next minute lovestruck in R & B, and the next minute jamming to the “rude bwoy” sounds of conscious and dancehall reggae.

I became a piece of every song I listened to. My moods and emotions were largely controlled by them. I felt that the music added color and interest to my life, but that was a lie. It diverted me from experiencing God’s amazing plan for my life, and I managed to get caught up in a fantasy world of nothingness that propelled me every direction but forward.

On top of this, my family had been hurt by some things that had happened at church, so they stopped attending. I tried going from time to time, but as the months went by, I fell off. On Sabbaths I went to the beach, shot pool, hung out in the market with friends, and took classes.

My friends and I began shaping our lives after our music by indulging in smoking, partying, drinking, and even recording our own songs. I could see that my life was going nowhere fast, so I decided to leave the island.

I asked my mom to send me some Adventist college brochures.

I’d been born in the United States while my dad finished a master’s degree at Andrews University (AU) in Berrien Springs, Michigan. But since I’d lived my entire life in the Caribbean, I didn’t have a good knowledge of the Adventist college system, especially since I had gone to public school for my last few years of high school and had hardly gone to church.

One day my mother said to me, “Why don’t you try for Andrews?”

This was way late in the application season. Yet, by God’s grace I got accepted and arrived at AU two weeks after school started. I don’t know how I got in with the little money we had, but at AU I began a journey of transformation that I’ll never forget.

I came to Andrews University (AU) as a kid who already had some pretty bad habits. But I wanted to change. I was coming from places where what I knew of church was extremely boring and conservative, and where most young people did everything except get willingly involved in God’s work.

During my first week of church at New Life in the AU seminary chapel, my jaw hit the floor! Young people were singing, clapping, saying hallelujahs—and my personal favorite, live instrumentation to back the praise team! The fire for God I saw that day impressed and inspired me! They actually acted like they loved and served a mighty and gracious God—something deemed “weak” where I had come from.

Seeing drums at church was a shocker for me. It was a sight I certainly wasn’t familiar with! While I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing, I intended to come back every week.

Right away I had a burden to get involved. This was my missing link, my portal for being plugged into worship, service, and praise. I’d never seen anything like this before in my life, and when I experienced it, I knew I was supposed to be a part of it. It was as if I were discovering the missing piece to the puzzle that was my life.

All my life I’d felt out of place in some way or another, partly because of all the moving my family did, but more so because I always felt robbed of opportunities to do the thing I felt created to do—play music. I also had an unusual habit of praying a lot, regardless of what I was doing, because I never really felt at peace in my sin.

The prayers of my loved ones were always effective in my life, because I always felt God calling me to a higher purpose. Even in Grenada, far away from my grandmother and mother, I had felt that there was something out there for me, but I just didn’t know what.

Drum ministry

Playing the drums had escaped me twice, but the opportunity wasn’t getting away this time! I had a family member in the band—my uncle. Through him I got to know the other praise musicians. I mingled among them while helping them set up—I even snuck in a few practice sessions with them.

In the midst of all this new personal discovery and inspiration, I still had lots of bad habits to shake. During my first year of college, God exposed me to so many great messages and worship experiences that by my second year—despite my many mistakes during the first—God had begun to change me.

I started skipping out on playing basketball or hanging out with friends, just for a chance to grab my sticks and my Bible and head over to the dorm chapel, where God called me to be alone with Him—and the drums. It sounds strange, but God was transforming me from the inside out while simultaneously affirming my gift for music. I didn’t know it at the time, but God was preparing me to use my gift for Him by giving me His Holy Spirit. The anointing of the Holy Spirit began to break the yokes of sin in my life. The Holy Spirit gave true power and meaning to my ministry of playing the drums.

Today I believe God purposely kept me from playing the drums. Back then I was thirsty to play music, not to serve God. I remember carrying my equipment in the cold across campus, to settle behind that old-school silver Pearl Export drum set. I cracked open my Bible on the snare drum, sometimes not knowing what I was going to read.

During those times God brought me across many empowering texts such as Philippians 4:13. It assured me that there was nothing I couldn’t accomplish through Jesus. And Philippians 1:6 gave me hope that God would continue to complete the great works He had begun in my life. Romans 8:28 taught me that   nothing can defeat me as long as I continue in the purposes of God, because all things—whether good or bad—will by God’s grace work for my good. Psalm 139 put me in awe at the grandeur of our all-encompassing God, and the fact that He has a plan for every day of my life! I was eager to walk in that plan.

The old and the new

This change in me caused tension between my old ways and friends and my new walk with God. I admit that some days were very stressful, because I felt like I was getting nowhere on the drums, and I was hitting dead ends in my Bible studies. Nevertheless, I kept pushing forward.

One day while feeling discouraged, I pleaded with God in prayer and made a promise to Him. “God, please help me learn the drums at an accelerated rate, so I can use this gift for You! If You teach me, Lord, I’ll play only for Your honor and glory!”

Week after week and month after month I continued to study and practice and pray behind the scenes, and God continued to shine His light in the dark places of my life. Week after week my convictions toward living a true Christ-centered life grew, and my old sinful joys were replaced with a more pure and fulfilling joy.

That year God connected me with a great drummer, Lee, who was also seeking to draw closer to God. He greatly helped me both spiritually and in the craft of drumming.

As I grew in God, I found that the hardest thing to let go of wasn’t partying, drinking, or cursing, but rather listening to music that’s not edifying. I remember thinking, It’s impossible to put aside the hip-hop and reggae, not to mention sensual R & B.

But as God’s light lit up my life, it was driving out the darkness in my life. I began noticing how the music I listened to contradicted God’s order, and I just couldn’t hold onto it any longer. In order to move ahead with God, the music had to go because of its negative effect on my morals and emotions.

My uncle Andrew, who is an anointed music minister, and I together threw out all of our debilitating music. I replaced it with gospel music that I’d been gathering from my musician friends. As I listened to it, some of it was so enriching that it shocked me. The words of the songs actually supported the things God was revealing to me in His Word! After God flushed the worldly music out of my mind, I could view life so much clearer and more positively, as if a veil had been lifted.

During that second year God also allowed me to gain more great friends, who were also seeking to go higher in God’s calling on their life. We practiced together, prayed together, studied together, and hung out together—we were a support system for one another.

By my junior year, most of my close musician friends had gone on to other locations, and I was pretty much the only available drummer left on campus. I’d been practicing behind the scenes for quite some time, and this is when God opened the door for me to do more than just help set up and break down. I began using the gift that God had given me out in the open.

God conquered me

God conquered me with His presence time after time during campus worship experiences. While playing the drums, I thought of how God had brought me to this point. The presence of God was simply undeniable in my life, as I experienced Him for myself in the act of worship.

I remember being so overwhelmed by the presence of God while driving one day, that I had to pull off the road. Every time I lifted my head toward the heavens, I felt overwhelmed to tears—something very uncharacteristic for me.

I knew God was calling for my total surrender, and it brought about changes in my attitude, my grades, my relationships, and my seriousness toward walking in His plan. I wasn’t sure what His plan was, but I knew that He wanted me to walk according to His Word.

My drum playing got better over time, and my spiritual life became stronger as I built more and more on the Rock of Jesus Christ. However, many fiery trials hit me during my journey with God. Nevertheless, His grace and mercy brought me through them, and He can and will do it for anyone who allows Him to.

I have no vision for my life, but God is painting a masterpiece of me. It takes a lot for me to say that, but I believe in God’s plans and purposes for us, especially in the time of our youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1). He did it for Joseph, David, Daniel, and many others. What makes us different? When I look back on my life thus far, without a doubt I recognize the amazing and victorious pursuit that God engaged in for me. I have surrendered to Him.

Some are appalled and turned off at the sight of drums. When I see drums at church, whether or not there is a congregation present, my heart is warmed, and my spirit spills over with thanks and praise on the inside because I see not just an instrument, but my personal haven for worship and praise.

The rest of my story is that I graduated from AU in 2007. Two months later I was blessed with the opportunity to join AU’s staff as a Web designer/developer.

Who would have thought that this confused kid from a single-parent home, with very little financial stability, would be standing victorious as a demonstration of God’s amazing transforming power?

While things aren’t perfect, I am secure in the fact that I’m a child of God, and that my place is in His will, not in the ways of the world. I believe that my life is a testimony of Romans 8:28!

God has used what I’ve experienced to ground me and to elevate me to a place of peace, stability, success, and joy in my life. Watch for your calling from Christ. In it are the missing pieces to your life’s puzzle!

 




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