I was picking up chairs at a Paul-Yongicho revival meetings in Pune, when I heard this mesmerizing, powerful and anointed voice in the other section of the ground, singing ‘This is the air I breathe.’
I wrapped up the chairs quickly, and desperately wanted to be part of this worship service, even if in the end. And I stood there at the back, experiencing God’s sweet presence. Totally WOW-ed by the worship leader, they called him Zack. And somehow I knew this guy, I had seen him singing in a band, at one of those famous Christian-band-concert-type venue, and our youth leaders were gossiping about his hot girlfriend, and I turned around to look at her, thinking ‘true’ what a ‘jodi.’ So Zack was Hyderabadi.
I met him after the service, showered some praise and then some sarcasm, and it was met with equal sarcasm but lot of love from his side. Apparently, he knew the gang from Methodist, and I knew his horns from AG. Our relationship started with a war of words, a war I totally enjoyed. I was quick to accuse him of being arrogant (all this after being blown away by his singing) and he was shocked but didn’t lose a chance to hit back at me. It was all ‘you-AG-people’ conversation from my side. And he ended that conversation almost prophesying that one day I’ll be in the ‘AG-people’ category, and huh, how I resented that!
It was not one of those quick after-stage-talks that most ministers do, because after that many don’t want to have anything to do with you, except flash I-kinda-know-you smiles in a crowd, while sticking to their inner circles. Zack totally pulled me in to his circle, much to the dismay of the people in the circle (totally my opinion). A bunch of young guys and girls who all knew each other from donkeys years, and I was just a few-minutes-friend-of-Zack, who was now behaving as if we were lifetime friends. So be it.
Next few days, he took me wherever they went, fed me – all three meals (awesome for an outstation college student), and most importantly, genuinely cared for me. I would see him night after night, ripping it on stage, with a 40-something choir backing him up, absolutely powerful and entertaining. I use the word entertaining because I truly believe it is a gift – from God, and Zack was endowed with it with added anointing. He made aunties and uncles jump up from their seats, sing, shout and even dance, and soon we all met Jesus, before we even knew it. Zack always helped you experience Jesus, on-stage and off-stage. He was full of something – I think it is called grace.
Those three days were the happiest days that year. And it ended with a blast. Post lunch, he asked me to sing with him. I thought he meant in the choir and was about to get excited, when he told me – not for choir, but as a backup singer – those 5-6 vocalists who sing right behind the worship leader. I was shocked, but I never said no, ha ha, if you know me 🙂
I ran home, my dearest roommates helped me get into a saree, for that was the dress code for the day, and I went to the grounds, singing my lungs out on stage. I didn’t even know lyrics for some of the songs, and when I told Zack about that – he said, ‘I don’t care. Just worship’ and so I did, with everything I had!
In all this, I remember him calling his girl, his fiance actually, and I would act like I did not see his face, but he was never shy of anything. He looked at me, ‘I miss her so much, so much.’ Then for few moments, he would stare into thin air, as if he was dreaming of her, nod his head, the I-miss-her nod, and then close his eyes, pray, and within a minute, jump up and give the crew call to go on stage.
They were to get married in a few months, and obviously, I was invited, in Hyderabad.
I never knew that this was a divine destiny moment for me. Zack says he always knew that, now, but then, I had no clue. I just knew that God made me feel so special. Next few years, my life went downhill …
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An encounter with a new Jesus