To say Martin Smith is a forerunner in worship music would be an understatement (cue I Could Sing of Your Love Forever, Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?, Emmanuel, God’s Great Dance Floor, etc.). He’s been a leader, innovator, influencer and model for the church world for 25 years, and he’s made a significant impact on my world recently.
On August 18, 2016, I played keyboards for Martin at Gateway Church for a special night of worship. You may recall my Snapchat from that night...included below. :) This was a “once in a lifetime” experience for me personally, considering the fact that his distinguished and recognizable sound was the soundtrack to my earlier years.
Two weeks later, I received a text asking if I’d be interested in playing at a conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with Martin and his band. Would I be interested??? My “once in a lifetime” was transforming before my eyes (insert all of the emojis here).
I really didn’t know what to expect. I love Martin Smith’s musicianship and leadership, but I’d only spent about 5 hours with him to this point. Those 5 hours turned into a 5-day ministry trip, which left me feeling like family with a group of people I’d never met.
I arrived at the Philly airport around the same time as 3 Brits arrived from London Heathrow. We met up and drove 2 hours together to Lancaster. Needless to say, we had some good ole’ quality time right off the bat! My roommate for the week was Elle, who arrived late that evening…just as I was jumping into bed. Nothing like first impressions!
Here come the photo diaries, along with some continued #fangirling, but I'll do my best to keep it to a minimum. :)
*Note to self: leave your camera sitting around more often...^^*
Our trip to Lancaster wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Amish country! That afternoon included following a guided tour bus around town, exploring a local gift shop and blasting tunes with the windows down…until we accidentally got behind the wrong truck.
The musicianship is unmatched…I mean, seriously. What am I doing here and how am I playing with Martin Smith and Stu G?! But more importantly, the genuine care, encouragement and FUN I experienced was more than words could ever say. This was one of the best weeks of my life musically, spiritually, creatively and personally—and I don’t say that lightly. I came home inspired and motivated on every level.
Live event photos by Tom Limebear | Travel photos by Jessica Sheppard | Edits by Jessica Sheppard
This experience has stirred my faith. 3 months ago, I could hardly fathom playing with Martin at Gateway. It never crossed my mind that anything else would come of it. What a God surprise! Life's circumstances can look entirely different in a moment's time. Anything and everything is possible. Overwhelmingly humbled. Overwhelmingly grateful.
Thank you Martin and friends for a week to remember.