The Diversity Program held the semesterly Diversity Worship Night last Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 7 p.m. Students gathered as they sang a selection of songs, read scriptures in different languages, and corporately prayed for the persecuted church.
Mark Makkar introduced the hymn “Assalat Arrabaniya,” or The Lord’s Prayer in Arabic during the worship night. Makkar is a sophomore from Syria.
“It’s one of my dad’s favorite hymns,” Makkar said. “It’s also usually the first hymn in most Arabic hymn books.” Because his Dad is a pastor, the hymn has been a part of Makkar’s childhood. His church’s congregation usually sings The Lord’s Prayer at the end of the sermon.
“What I love about Arabic hymns is that the [music and beat] takes on the emotions of the lyrics,” Makkar said. “The music helps you feel the grief or the joy.” Makkar gave examples: songs about Jesus’ crucifixion would be really mellow, and songs about Jesus’ resurrection would be really upbeat.
Lillian Arjona-Garzon introduced and led a Spanish song, “Creo en ti” (“I Believe in You”). James Taylor, one of the six Diversity Leaders who organized the worship night, included songs such as “Teach Us to Pray” and “The Anthem” that he learned at the Urbana 2015 Missions Conference.
Both Makkar and Taylor said that they loved the song “Teach Us to Pray.” The lyric of the song speaks of the persecuted church. The song starts with, “Teach us to pray for our sisters and brothers who suffer to speak Your name / Ravaged by violence, exile, and torture, we will watch and not turn away.”
“It’s good to know that people are realizing that there’s a need to pray corporately,” Makkar said. “And that there’s a song about it! For people like my parents, it’s good to know that people are praying together.”
Makkar’s parents are currently serving in a disciple-making ministry in Syria.
The theme of the worship night is Persecution and Hope. “I didn’t make the theme clear, but all the Bible verses we read had to do with hope, and we had an extensive period of prayer time for the persecuted church,” Taylor said. “The prayer time was wonderful.”
For the Scripture reading, five different languages were represented.
“I had to ask my mom to take a picture of this passage from her Bible!” Simon Ocailap said, holding his hand-written copy of Psalm 3:2-6 in Runyoro, his mother’s local language in Uganda. Ocailap was one of the five students who read the Scripture in their traditional languages.
The worship night closed with “Amazing Grace” sang in Korean, Swahili, Portuguese, and English and the song, “The Anthem.”
Taylor said that there could be more publication for the worship night to garner more attendance. “The theme could [also] be made clearer,” Taylor said. “Otherwise, I thought it was a great event.”