In 2019, Caleb and Carina Beaty moved from Bloomington, Ill., to Madrid, Spain, to serve as missionaries with the International Mission Board. Below, Caleb describes how a song sung at their commissioning service last year still resonates today, as the family is confined to their apartment amid the Coronavirus pandemic:
On June 11, 2019, my wife and I had the humbling experience of being part of a sending celebration with the IMB at the SBC Annual Meeting in Birmingham. I will forever remember the sound of thousands of pastors praying for us on the conference center floor, and then walking off the floor as the worship team led those same pastors in the words, “O praise the name of the Lord, our God. O praise his name forevermore. For endless days we will sing your praise, O Lord, O Lord, our God.”
That chorus is the response to verses about the death, burial, resurrection, and imminent second coming of Jesus. In short, the words of worship are our response to the gospel whenever we sing that song.
Back then, we had no idea that nine months later we would be confined to the four walls of our 900-square-foot apartment in the heart of Madrid. This city in particular and Spain in general have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Governmental restrictions on movement are being strictly enforced. Much of our task as first-term church planters involves movement— going to language school, meeting people in the neighborhood, prayer walking, and mapping out areas of the neighborhood for ministry purposes.
Unable to do many of the things we had planned to do in our first year, my wife, Carina, began to think of ways that we could continue to be a faithful presence for our neighbors during this time. What does missions look like in the midst of a pandemic?
John Piper famously said, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” If that is true, then we ought to be bright lights of worship for those around us to see in this time. We have found two daily opportunities to do this during our time at home, simply by sticking our heads out of our windows. The first happens every night, when all of our neighbors come to their windows to applaud health care workers and others who are keeping society moving.
The second opportunity was started by our next-door neighbor, who, along with her three children, puts on a small concert of classical music every day around lunch time. Our building fills a city block, with a spacious courtyard in the middle. Our 7-story brick building carries the sounds of the flute, oboe, and viola beautifully. Almost all of the neighbors in our building lean their heads out of their windows each day to enjoy this social “gathering.”
During Holy Week, we asked our neighbor if we could share a song on Resurrection Sunday during the normal music time. She gladly agreed, so on Easter Sunday, my wife and I had the humbling experience of singing that song from our sending celebration, “O Praise the Name,” from our windows to our neighbors in Madrid.
It was humbling in part because we are not professional musicians. I’m not a professional Spanish-speaker. Even with two weeks of daily practice leading up to the song, we both made mistakes playing and singing the song. But we worshipped.
It was humbling also because God had so clearly opened doors for us. He put us in this particular building with this particular neighbor during this particular moment in history. He gave a sunny day in the middle of a week of rainy days, and he paused the sirens and helicopter noises that often interrupt music time. He even provided a neighbor to video and photograph the song!
In a time when many typical missions activities are on hold, worship isn’t. We worship in response to what God has done for us in the gospel. Because of this gospel we have come to Madrid. Because of this gospel, Baptists across the U.S. have given generously and sacrificially to send us. Because of this gospel, we worship.
Photo: Carina Beaty greets an upstairs neighbor before she and her husband, Caleb, start singing a worship song on Easter morning. Photo by Carlos Guijarro