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Here's the final instalment in George Luke's account of the week he spent at the Global Consultation on Music and Missions (GCoMM) in Singapore. 


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  TUESDAY: It's starting to dawn on me that I only really have
  today and tomorrow left, and so must get round to recording
  some interviews.

  I decided not to attend the breakout sessions in the morning
  and afternoon, but rather use that time to interview people I'd
  already seen and/or made contact with.

Bad idea. I may have decided not do go to any breakout sessions, but everyone else did – so no interviewees!

Interview stories
I really want to interview Allan Eubank and his wife Joan; they head up the ministry in Thailand that the drama group we saw yesterday belongs to. They gave away some DVDs of the group's performances this morning, so I now have The Prodigal Daughter and The Creation Story on 'doovdé'.

Also thinking I need to interview Jo-Ann about Crew 40-3 (her new ministry) and her work generally of communicating the Bible in ways that Jamaica's predominantly Patois-speaking populace can get.

In the end, I did do my first couple of interviews today – thanks to me being on the same bus as some of the people who'd given presentations this morning! One of them was Simon Hung, executive director of ORTV (Overseas Radio & Television), who have been making Christian telly and radio programming for Chinese audiences for 50 years.

'Use the technology...'
We talked about his work not just in telly but also in film and drama. His parting comments would certainly strike a chord with a certain 'Uncle' I know: “This is the age of the internet and the iPad. You can all create things now, so use the technology and serve your audiences.”

During the evenings at Bartley Church, people have been encouraged to come up and give testimonies.

Tonight a lady gave one that really illustrates my 'kolomentality' comment earlier (see Part 1). This was a lady from the church; a typically urban Singaporean who's heavily into music.

Re-examining native attitudes...
She said that she'd always been embarrassed by indigenous Singaporean and Chinese music, preferring instead to listen to classical music – or anything else, so long as it wasn't that indigenous Asian stuff she felt so ashamed of.

However, what she had seen and heard at GCoMM so far was making her re-examine her attitudes, and she was beginning to see her native music in a different, more positive light.

We ended the day with the second Evening With Michael Card (a more song-based affair than the previous night), after which Rob, Neil (a new Canadian friend I've made here) and I went to a strip of cheap eating places in Serangoon and had a curry.

Wednesday (early morning, around 8-ish).
Last day already! It has been an intense few days. I've made appointments to interview the Thai drama guys and Ed Lapiz who heads Kaloob (the Filipino dance guys). Looking forward to doing that – and to hearing Ed speak on the subject of 'Redeeming Culture' later on today.

Late evening...
Actually it's Thursday morning, 'cos it's just gone past midnight): I am absolutely cream crackered. GCoMM just ended with a grand gala evening, during which I ended up onstage as backing dancer whilst Eric Sarwar sang a 'Bollywood Gospel' song (don't bother looking; there are NO Youtube videos for that one!). So how did I get there – and more importantly, what happened today (I mean yesterday)?

Well, to put it very briefly, Wednesday was 'Marathon Interview Day'. I did four altogether: the guys who head the Thai folk drama group, Paul McAndrew from Izi Bongo, Eric Sarwar and Ed Lapiz. Kaloob (Ed's dance/drama group) have performed several times during GCoMM, and have been absolutely awesome to see – especially their performance this evening.

At the last GCoMM, I had met Tom Avery – a founder member of the band now called Izi Bongo. Tom had a great heart for missions, and especially for the people of Brazil (he'd worked intensively there, and composed worship songs in some Brazilian dialects). Sadly, he passed away two years ago. Tom's posthumous Lifetime Achievement award presentation was one of the most moving moments of the whole evening. I was also happy to see my new friends from Thailand – the Eubanks – receive an award for over 30 years' work.

And finally - amazing...
It's been a truly amazing four days. As I sit in the canteen at the college hall of residence we've been staying in (surrounded by beautiful young Asian students who all look like real-life versions of Noodle from Gorillaz), I'm still a little stunned by some of the stories I've heard, and by how universal so many of our experiences are.

There are all sorts of conventions, talking shops and what have you in the Gospel/CCM/whatever arena, but none of them really covers the (very necessary) issues GCoMM does. And for all the talk we hear in church circles about unity and diversity, none of them really bring so many disparate cultures together the way GCoMM does, either.

During the closing ceremony, the pastor of Bartley Christian Church commented that this was the first time so many different nations had been represented within the church building at any one time.

I think the old Malay dude I had dinner with on Sunday said it best: “God is playing Mahjong with the world, mixing all the coloured pieces together.” If indeed he is, then GCoMM gave us a glimpse of what this glorious mess could be like if we all pulled together.

Or as the GCoMM tag line puts it: “Many tribes, many songs, many peoples, one saviour.”

GCoMM logo
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I live in London, from where I spend much
of my time writing for magazines, websites and anything else that comes along, as well as making radio programmes.
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Ice-cream tasting, Singapore style: George sampling the delights of sweetcorn, mango and yam-flavoured ice cream with Rob Baker.

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Has a weird obsession with international gospel music.

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