Bethel Music Worship Evening Review by Robbie Hift
We had a big surprise on Monday night when we got to Father’s House Church in Port Elizabeth to see Bethel Music, the world famous worship team from Redding California. 2 400 people looks like a lot of people when they all overflow into the streets and form long, long queues waiting to get into this intriguing church which is actually a giant warehouse that has been transformed into a beautiful, indeed majestic, church in Paterson Road.
What a modern church! Once inside, you walk along a vast entrance foyer outside the main auditorium and there are rows of Apple iPads set up on counters that inform you of the ministries and events that the church are involved with. On the walls are inscriptions that say “Crown The Year With Your Goodness.” An ornate blackboard reads “Faith Hope and Love” and another says, “An Authentic Life!” There were several impressive food kiosks available where delicious wors rolls, tasty hamburgers and crispy samosas were on sale at very reasonable prices. Fathers House team members organised all this.
A rare peace
I loved the atmosphere inside the auditorium. The reflected lighting made the vast warehouse seem warm and cosy. Although there were 2 400 people all packed into the warehouse, there was a remarkable tranquility there. A peace that is hard to describe and which is very, very rare to find in a huge crowd of people from our rainbow nation. Most of the chairs were removed to accommodate the huge numbers of Port Elizabeth worshippers with standing room only. No chairs led to a wonderful freedom of worship where folks were able to dance, and to express themselves freely in worship when this amazing Bethel Music team took to the stage.
The team included Jeremy Riddle, Amanda Cook, Hunter Thompson, Kalley Heiligenthal and William Matthews. There was an instant rapport between the musicians and the mass of people when a team member said: “We can feel such a hunger for God’s presence in this place tonight. Port Elizabeth was not on our itinerary but there was such an overwhelming response on our Facebook page, that we just had to come to your wonderful city.”
The sound engineering was superb and one could hear every instrument and every voice as the group launched into a 2 and a half hour phenomenal session of praise and worship. What was so special was that it was not a performance, not just a band singing songs, it was much, much more than that. Bethel Music has that incredible gift of putting people in touch with the great Creator with a beautiful, harmonious sound of worship which ushers in the presence of God. What an awesome thing it is when several thousand people all take part in this, singing the words together, clapping and dancing freely! What a release of spiritual power! You could feel the goodness of God very strongly in that vast auditorium. I realized once again the truth of Psalm 22 which says “God is enthroned in the praises of His people.”
Power failure did not stop the worship
At one point, there was power failure. Generators kept the lights going but for five minutes there was no sound from the Bethel team as the mikes, keyboards and guitars just died. But the power of worship was so strong that the assembled thousands kept on worshipping aloud although you could not hear the Bethel team! When the sound came back on, there was a seamless transition and the praise just kept going on. Bethel’s forte is ushering in prophetic praise and worship. This means encouraging all present to spontaneously sing praises to the Holy One with a unique sound in tune with the team. The result was an awesome, overwhelming and extremely powerful sound coming from 2000 lips all saying the same thing: “We Love You Lord. We think You are awesome in this place.”
This was not just a concert. This was an experience in worship that I shall never forget. This was a rare and wonderful evening that will stay with me forever! If you would like just a taste for yourself, you might like to listen to Bethel’s latest release in a long line of albums called “We Will Not Be Shaken.” The album recording was held during an evening of worship on a mountaintop overlooking Shasta Lake north of Redding recently. The main outlet for their album is the Cum chain of stores in South Africa. Wow Music Distribution and Father’s House did a great job in organising this huge event at such short notice and I was most impressed by their courteous organisation!