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CollECtively lifting up the name of Jesus through exuberant praise!

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The 'let-go'


The CollECtive Choir rehearses at the Lighthouse at 310 E Madison Street in Eau Claire on Monday nights, and is open to all.
Alongside the regular work of the choir and support raising, there are a couple of significant bench marks and highlights over the last few weeks with our journey in the CollECtive choir.  Much of which has to do with "positioning."  I was reminded in God's word this week, "I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me." - Ps. 57:2, and "All our steps are ordered by the Lord; how then can we understand our own ways?" - Prov. 20:24.  I am comforted that even on the road less traveled by, or uncharted waters, God's purpose is being fulfilled - whether on a new career venture, or simply at a concert or at the grocery store, our steps are ordered by God!  Lord, help us to stay on point!
     -October 15th marked the end of my transitional support from Peace church.  This is particularly exciting because this is where God shows His best work - when we are in need!  We currently have 22% ongoing support raised, aside from various one time donations.
The Collective choir rehearses monday night at the Lighthouse Youth Center in Eau Claire, WI     -October 22nd we began our big Christmas run, and the team is stoked!  Getting to know new music and new members, and continuing to reach out to other community members, churches, and bystanders to join the choir family as we prepare for a big community concert on the 9th of December.
     -October 26th sang at the Community Table and connected with a few new folks.  I had dinner with a nice gentleman who wanted to find work and connect with his family again.  He plays saxophone, and showed me a song on the keyboard.  He is a believer.  We subsequently were told by the administration we could not play anymore unless we encompassed other faith's.  We are praying that God opens other doors in the downtown and transient community to proclaim Jesus!
     -October 27th marks the end of my 8 and 1/2 year entrepreneurial entertainment venture - the Shillelagh lads.  Though a fun hobby and substantial stop-gap in our families finances, the Lads are being jettisoned to be able to devote my best to the Choir.  While bitter sweet, we had a wonderful celebration concert at the Heyde Center in CF, Jesus was glorified, and I was able to share with fans about why I was ending it (obedience to God/the CollECtive Choir).  This is the last of my other musical "Irons in the fire", and I am excited to be 100% focussed on the work of the Choir in the last part of the year.  We are praying that God would inspire and connect people to the work we are doing downtown through the aftermath of this endeavor.

How can I be praying for you?  mike@collECtivechoir.org, 715.894.0272
Much love,
miker

Friday, October 12, 2018

From the end of July to the middle of August, and at sporadic times throughout the last two months, I have been fixated on Psalm 16.  NRSV states "The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot...I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved."  What's more, during that time, one of the Youth band members at Peace bought me this mug.  I love it when God does that - speaking to us in multiple, blatant ways!  It is as if he is saying, "I am here.  Trust in me."  In June, when the Peace church leadership, Chris and myself decided to transition me out of my position at Peace Church and launch me into this self-supported venture, I knew this step of faith would be "sanctifying" and bring Chris and I through the purging crucible of faith.  Thank Jesus - it has proven nothing short of that!  It is like the burn of a good work out, knowing that in the end you will be better suited for the tasks at hand.  My prayer for us all is that we might truly take refuge in the Lord, and keep him always before us as we walk out our calling in Christ.

In the past few weeks I have been balancing community support raising with the ongoing fall work - strengthening some of our community connections with the Lighthouse Youth Center, Hope Gospel Mission, Ekklesia Church and Peace Church.  I also did some preliminary connecting with the Eau Claire Academy to see if that would be a plausible ministry touch point for the Choir's music ministry. 

Now in the upcoming few weeks, I continue to reach out to our Christian community for support, trusting that the Lord will bring along those who are supposed to walk alongside us.  We will be visiting Community Table, Ruth House, and the Lighthouse.  We also are doing the leg-work for our upcoming Christmas rehearsal run.  These runs are concerted efforts to collaborate with members from local churches, as well as reach out to the disconnected, the outsiders, and the unchurched.  We pray that the Lord would use us as a stepping stone for folks into deeper spiritual formation in the community of God.  Our Christmas concert is Dec. 9th at The Plus, downtown EC, but the process itself is gold.

Things we would like you to join us in praying for:
-That through our members' purposeful availability and invitation, the Lord would gather the outsiders, the lost, the despised and the lonely in our city. 
-That our confidence and reliance would be in God's power, and the power of the Gospel and not our own.
-For the Love of Christ to grow even more in our assemblies
-For God's perfect provision, and for individuals who have the capacity to aid the process of connecting support from area churches, businesses and saints.

What can we be in prayer about for you?  email me with 'prayer request' in the subject line.  mike@collECtivechoir.org

grace and peace!
miker

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

30 degrees

Hello Friends!  The Choir is taking every opportunity we can to build bridges into diverse parts of the community, including the University.  Thanks to our connections with a faithful sister in Christ at UWEC, we now are approved as a service learning organization.  What does this mean?  It means that university students now have extra incentive to get involved with their community outside of the campus - including the Choir.  Our prayer is to connect with students each semester through the service learning mentorships - and to not only give them an experience appropriate to their major of study (be it administration, business, music, marketing, etc.), but for them to experience a missional art community changed by the love of Jesus.  Please pray with us for successful connections to students, and a bridge into the university, to augment the kingdom efforts happening there!

The CollECtive Choir performs at the Hope Gospel Mission Celebration Dinner, held at Grace Baptist Church in Lake Hallie Wi. Our singers represents a smaller group of our choir.
(Connecting with students on UWEC for service learning last Monday.

Singing at the Tandem Cookout Monday Night
The CollECtive Choir connecting Monday night at Carson Park with a partner ministry, Tandem- a Christ-based youth mentorship program.30 degrees fahrenheit after the campus fair on Monday, the Choir connected with a partner organization, Tandem, which is a Christ-based youth mentorship program.  We sang as people gathered at Carson park for their year kickoff cookout.  We wish to keep strong ties with Tandem, and eventually be a weekly activity for some of the Mentors/Mentees to participate with as they connect together.  Either way, we see it fitting to encourage such Kingdom-advancing organizations in the valley.  Please pray for more and more lives to be coached in Christ!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Blessed Community: Terry and La La

The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke many times about "blessed community."  Community is a beautiful blessing - and is strength - like the two that are much better than one, or the chord of three strands that isn't easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  God has called his people together as a body, with different gifts and contributions - but the same Lord!  The CollECtive Choir recognizes our vital contribution in the Eau Claire community, but we also recognize our need for what the other ministries bring to the table, and work with them regularly.  One of these partner ministries is the Hope Gospel Mission.  Hope Gospel Mission rebuilds lives of individuals who are stuck in addiction and destructive habits through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They provide a voluntary 12-18 month residency for individuals who desire to retrain their minds and hearts in the word of God, and learn practical skills and values that will help them succeed as they step out again on their own.  The structure, accountability, and partnership with local churches is extensive.  Where the CollECtive Choir steps in, is that we provide an extra touch-point in christian community each week for residents to dig in with - participating in praise ministry alongside other saints, and being encouraged in their christian walk through the extra prayer and love that is exuded in the choir.  We have had 9 Hope Gospel Mission residents sing in the Choir, and a few of them that have stepped away from the program have continued to connect in the CollECtive choir. 
Terry has sang with the choir for 18 months now, and though he works currently on Monday nights, he is actively involved in the performances and stays connected.  He just graduated this last Friday at August's celebration dinner, a monthly celebration gathering to celebrate the progress of the residents at Hope Gospel Mission.  The Choir has provided exuberant praise music for many of these celebrations.  Terry sang his solo that he has been diligently working on.  I have met together with him a couple times to help him rehearse and encourage him.
LaTonya, or "La La" as she is called, is another resident who just celebrated the passing of phase 2 - the most difficult phase in the program- where God does extensive surgery on the hearts of people.  Though she has not sang with the choir at rehearsals, she often joins us at the celebration dinners, and has always been enthusiastic when the choir comes.  I recently was able to help arrange music for her song- a testimony of what God has done in her life.  The recording you are about to listen to is from my phone, which I took into the studio and added tracks to.  We intend to re-record the song at a later date.  Helping people find their voice and celebrate Christ in them is a part of what we do.

Please continue to pray for the residents at Hope Gospel Mission, that they would build strong ties with the Christian community around them, grasp the hope that we have in Christ, and be empowered and equipped for the work of the ministry.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Open up the floodgates

At our rehearsal Monday, the choir avoided a deluge after a short study on online weather radars.  After gathering early and praying over the Lighthouse family and some new Choir members from Saturday's event, it was rather poetic then, when we sang a new song of petition to the Lord as we offered up our prayers for the City.  The song is called "Open up the Floodgates" (here is our new practice recording for the choir)  Floodgates and rain and the heaven's 'opening' has a few contexts in the bible.... judgement, blessing, literal rain, God's provision.  So when we pray with the context of this song, we are asking for the rule and reign of Jesus to take over the atmosphere through the power of His Holy Spirit.  We ask God to align our hearts more perfectly with His, to align our words more perfectly with His, and align our will more perfectly with His so that we can be an on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven people; a royal priesthood.  We are asking for chains to be broken, for lives to be healed, and for salvation for souls.  Or, as Isaiah 45 puts it, "Rain down you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open and spring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together..." 
And as we dove into singing and praying with multiple people from different churches- falling more in love with Jesus together as we soaked in his presence- it brought to mind Romans 15:5-6, "May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."  Yeah, that is what we seek to do and what we invite people into every week. 

Prayer this week:
-Please continue to pray for the heart of worship and intersession to stir up in the choir and surrounding churches
-Pray for the men I spent time with at Hope Gospel mission on Tuesday to grow in their personal connection with Christ, and for a nudge from the Holy Spirit to join our rehearsals so that they can continue to be encouraged outside of the regular programing. 
-Continue to pray for God's miraculous provision as I prepare to step in full time in November.  Praying for partnership connections with local churches and saints from around the city. 
-Pray for the upcoming celebration (One of our members are graduating from Hope Gospel Mission this Friday), that Terry would feel encouraged and celebrated as we highlight what the Lord has done in him! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A rainy opportunity?


"I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit."  - Leviticus 26:4

Have you ever prayed that it would or wouldn't rain?  I would like to meet someone who hasn't.  While the Lord has given special authority at times as it aligns with God's will, in general we have wanted the weather to align with our desires of facility and comfort.  It is God who controls it.  For many volunteers and patrons Monday night at Boyd park, I am sure the thought or prayer occurred a few times.  As a music ministry that is seeking to specialize in the outdoor opportunities of the summer for sharing the Gospel, the weather can be a force to be reckoned with.  We rehearse at Phoenix Park when we have enough sunlight and warmth each Monday night during the outdoor season.  And we have been engaging people in public spaces with the exuberant praise of Christ at festivals and block parties.  This backpack distribution spear-headed by Peace Church was no different.  It was a unique opportunity to share the gospel!  In previous years, it is hosted at the School.  But being the school Gym was under construction, the Choir had a unique opportunity to come alongside people providing food, haircuts, school supplies and more to proclaim Jesus through exuberant praise.
Yes, when the rain fell, some people scattered.  But some people stayed!  Many of the downtown and lighthouse community members were among those who stuck around.  We had miss Judy Burns dancing with her family in the rain at with the Praises of Christ - She said, "Y'all just blessed me - man!  You got me all speakin' in tongues again."  We were able to connect with a few of the community members too.  One of the gals that I had connected with a few years back at the lighthouse told me, "I want to come sing with the choir now." 
I believe the rain provided another opportunity as well.  I believe the rain provided an opportunity for the community to see the Church's resolve to be a blessing.  Tons of hours, tons of prep, and the stick-to-it-ness of the team that volunteered there spoke to the love of Christ that compels us more than just a great sunny-day event might.

Please keep our team and the churches that we are coming alongside for end-of summer outreaches in prayer.  We desire for these communities to be transformed by the power of God's love - displayed in our actions and in sharing the truth of the gospel.  (Psalm 85:10 "Unfailing love and truth have met together...") 

To see be up to date on our next events, visit www.collectivechoir.org

Much love,
miker

Friday, July 27, 2018

God's Timing... Sometimes Slower and Sometimes Faster than Ours.

Hi everyone! Let me introduce us:

This is Mike Rambo: 

And this is me:
I'm Chris, Mike's wife : )

We have two littles too. Gwenyth, who is 7 and Reuben, who is 5.

Mike and I will check in here as often as needed to keep you up to date on the activities, developments, prayer points, and needs of the CollECtive Choir.

I can't remember if it was a birthday or Christmas gift, but I took Mike to a Harlem Gospel Choir concert here in Eau Claire like nine years ago. NINE YEARS AGO Mike said he wanted to start a choir like that here in Eau Claire. 

Turns out that wasn't the time to start. God had a lot of work to be done in our marriage and family first. At the time, God's plan seemed to be going a bit slow.

Almost four years ago now (while Mike was vacuuming), God said, "NOW."

And so, the choir began with about three people in attendance. Today, the CollECtive Choir performs actively around the area with up to 40 people singing and playing instruments!

In the last year, the CollECtive Choir has become an official, legal non-profit organization.

Since the beginning, it has been a hope and desire that Mike would be able to receive income from the work he does for the choir. We envisioned that to happen MAYBE in five years.

Well... God's timing is sometime's faster than ours!

We really have no doubts that God is wanting Mike to devote his energy to the CollECtive Choir as a full time missionary, and we have no doubts that God will provide a way for him to do that.

It's requiring a whole lot of prayer, a whole lot of planning, and a whole lot of faith!

Here are some ways that YOU can support the choir:

1. Prayer - Please pray for the choir to continue to grow not just in numbers but in faith and in community with each other. We are praying about ways to train up a few leaders within the choir to be "prayers" for individuals we encounter at our performances and events. And pray for Mike and our little family as we jump into this grand adventure. Mike has so much work to do, exciting, but hard work. Pray that we would be able to raise sufficient funding for the needs of our family and the choir.

2. Financial Gifts - Please consider donating to the CollECtive Choir. There are many expenses including: our recent album release, childcare costs (we offer free childcare during practices and performances so that young families can join the choir!), payments to instrumentalists, costs of printing of promotional materials and sheet music, and now... a sustainable wage for the Rambo family.

3. Come and sing! We would love to have you!

4. Help "behind the scenes" - There is plenty of set up and take down opportunities as well as organizational opportunities. Contact Mike for more details.

4. Spread the word about the Choir - Share this blog and/or the website on social media. Take photos and videos when you come see us. Hashtag us #CollECiveChoir. 

We look forward to sharing more about the CollECtive Choir in the future. Thanks for reading!

- Chris : )