On March 6, the Emmaus Ensemble embarked on our annual spring break tour to build up and encourage the body of Christ. We had the privilege of visiting Galena Bible Church in Illinois, Rice Lake Bible Chapel and Trott Brook Gospel Hall in Minnesota, and Country Bible Church and Wauwatosa Bible Chapel in Wisconsin. We were blessed by the amazing hospitality of the believers at each church as they welcomed us, fed us, and hosted many of us in their homes.
One highlight of the trip was the Sunday morning service at Rice Lake Bible Chapel. We had just been singing and talking about joy in the concert the night before, and that spirit of joy overflowed into the Sunday morning service as they put into practice joyfully remembering the Lord together. Another highlight we enjoyed was a behind the scenes tour of Green Valley Greenhouse, a 20 acre greenhouse owned and run by some members of Trott Brook Gospel Hall.
The theme for this year was “Choose Joy”, and our goal was to spread God’s joy through our songs, words, and actions and to represent Christ to those we encountered during our journey. During the fall and spring preparations, the Ensemble studied what God says in His Word about how important it is for us to rejoice in Him consistently. God tells us to rejoice even when (or especially when) we do not feel like rejoicing (see Philippians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, and Hebrews 13:15). We emphasized that He is the source of our joy (Psalm 16:11).
One of the seniors in the Ensemble testified to how God was showing him that when he chose to have a joyful attitude, it significantly affected his experience even when circumstances were challenging. He shared the following verse from Habakkuk 3:17-18:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
Elisa Cooper is the Chair of the Music Department at Emmaus Bible College, and has been teaching since 2005. She holds degrees from Wheaton College and Indiana University. Elisa participates actively in the Dubuque community by singing in the Dubuque Chorale (community chorus) and performing as a pianist with other musicians.