Hey guys, check out this article that Christian Marketplace put in their February 2010 issue!
Opening The Door into a new territory
Clem Jackson met with Mark and Carrie Tedder to talk about a groundbreaking worship project in China and about living and ministering in what for many is a closed land.
In 2008 Mark Tedder and his Worshiplanet band, together with a group of Chinese musicians performed a worship concert in a theatre which is home to the biggest International Church in
Beijing in China. Whilst that in itself was unusual the most amazing part of the project was that the whole event was recorded and filmed – a first for a worship concert in China. The result was The Door, a CD and DVD package issued earlier in 2009 in the UK by Integrity Music Europe.
At the time Mark and some of his family were living in Beijing but have now returned to Colorado and I met up with him and his wife Carrie on a visit to England at the end of last year to talk about the project and life in China. I began by asking them about the ministry of Worshiplanet.
Mark: Worshiplanet is an international equipping ministry. We really have a heart for working with worship teams and local churches all around the world and so, where we are invited, we will take a small band with us and will go and work with, train, equip, local worship ministries and local expressions of worship in various nations.
CJ: You recently spent two years in China but how did that all come about?
Carrie: About five years ago we were invited by the Chinese government to do a series of benefit concerts for the Disabled Federation of China. The deal was they would raise money at the concerts by selling tickets (they paid our expenses) if we could sing what we liked. They said OK; we couldn’t speak but we could sing what we liked. We did a series of 90 minute concerts all over mainland China for two weeks and it was from that series of concerts that we really got a big heart for China. When we found out that the International Church in Beijing, 4,000 people and fourteen congregations, were without a worship pastor we very quickly volunteered. We spent six months raising funds for a two-year stay in China so we didn’t cost the church anything, found a little apartment and lived there.
CJ: To shift the family and shift the home all the way from Colorado to China, how difficult
was that for you Carrie?
Carrie: Easy! I travel easier than he does. (“she does” - Mark). It wasn’t too bad mainly because our kids are older. Now we would have done it, if our kids had been younger, in fact we have made moves like that before. Whilst there are some remote places, China is easier than we think, particularly the bigger cities like Shanghai and Beijing.
CJ: While you were in China The Door project came about; why The Door?
Mark: We called it The Door because we really sensed from the very first time we went to China that the door was open; God clearly has been opening a door in China for evangelisation, for proclamation. The other reason we called it The Door was because doors are significant in China. The door is probably one of the most significant parts of the home. Even if you live in a shanty the door, the threshold, is a very significant part of that house. If you are invited into a person’s house in China it’s a high honour; they have opened their door and are saying ‘please come and spend time with us, come and eat with us’. Wherever you go you see above each threshold the symbol of the door that’s on the cover of the project.
CJ: You talk about a door being opened but in the West we hear all sorts of conflicting stories about how free Christianity is, about the persecution of pastors. What’s your experience having spent two years there?
Carrie: Someone told us when we first arrived in China that ‘any statement you make about China is true – somewhere in China’. And we know there is persecution going on, there are horrible things happening, they continue to happen, it will take forever to change this. At the same time there are amazing things happening; like 18 months ago they passed a ruling which said it was no longer illegal to be a card carrying Communist Party member and to be a Christ follower in Parliament. We know there are believers who are very high up in the government.
So you’ve got this underlying history of bad things happening but you have this fresh move
of God’s Spirit. There are believers throughout society in China from the peasant population all
the way up to government.
Mark: We even got the opportunity to be interviewed about what we were doing in China
on Beijing Radio (17 million listeners) and although they had this file on us, they knew all about us, the interviewer just says “You’re with Worshiplanet – what is Worshiplanet?” and then she says to me “Just say what you want to say, I don’t really care, it’s OK.”
CJ: Have you been back to China in 2009?
Mark: We were there in February; we try to go there once a year now. We are planning another tour there again with the government - the same organisation wants us to come back again - in
2010 if we can get the money together.
CJ: What were the challenges in writing songs for the project that were translatable into the Chinese context?
Mark: I tend to write songs based on what is happening in my life, in my congregation’s life, in
the life of the church, kind of more around me. So the expression and the songs that came from The Door project were mostly written in Beijing. What we did is we fused these two worlds together. We brought a Western song and combined it with Chinese ethnic instruments. In terms of fusing Chinese instruments and bringing Chinese musicians onto the project, that was a challenge. People in China don’t view a Guzheng (a long wooden stringed instrument that looks like a harp laying on its side), or a Yangqin (a hammer dulcimer type of instrument), as instruments for worship. It was a big risk to use them but we had heard young Chinese musicians playing these instruments in their homes; it was just a beautiful expression of worship.
Carrie: We let the Chinese musicians we used create around what Mark had written, so there
was a lot of creativity on their part.
CJ: And on the CDRom you have the words in Chinese script alongside the English translation
of the words too.
Mark: To be honest with you The Door was never meant to be released outside of China; it
was meant to be for the Chinese Church. There is nothing at all like this in China, this is a first. When we had it pressed in China we said, 'Look, take this record and copy it as many times as you want to and give it out to as many villages and towns and cities as you can. Get it out there.
Carrie: And we’re praying that this will be a prototype because if this eventually gets permission it means that some other things will get permission too and that’s actually much
by Tony Cummings
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