USA (MNN) — Many churches have handbell choirs, but perhaps not quite like this.
Shepherds Ministries, a ministry directed toward developmentally disabled adults, has had a handbell choir for the last 30 years. The choir performs frequently, raising awareness and funds for Shepherds, while sharing the love of Christ.
"The handbell choir is part of an enduring spiritual commitment at Shepherds Ministries, providing the opportunity for a talented team of our individuals to share their faith and to minister to churches and groups all over the country," reads the first few lines of a Shepherds video of the handbell choir.
The choir itself is a two-way street, blessing those who hear it, as well as providing an opportunity for residents to step out of their comfort zone and to create something beautiful.
"It took a lot of courage to bring me in and get to know other people," says Shepherds resident, Rebekah Marvel. Marvel joined the handbell choir this year, and after getting over her fear of joining, she has had a wonderful time playing for and with other people. She was on a recent tour to Florida.
The nine-member group took two days to drive out to Florida to perform several times for various churches, schools and retirement homes. While there, the team was able to stay with families from different churches, providing another opportunity for them to raise awareness of Shepherds unique ministry. The results of these stays and the many performances were great.
"People have been very responsive," says Brooke Compton, new director of the handbell choir. "They actually get to hear testimonies from the residents, so they actually see what these residents do."
This is important for the well-being of Shepherds residents, but it is also one of the major fund raising efforts for the ministry. Above all, however, residents in the choir use it as a platform to share the love of Christ.
"[Audiences] see the joy of the Lord in these people, and they see that everything they do is for the Lord. Residents wake up and make their bed because it's something God's given them the ability to do," says Compton.
The Shepherds Ministries Handbell Choir tours frequently and all over the United States. For a complete tour schedule, click here, and find a performance near you. To schedule a performance, e-mail Brooke Compton at firstname.lastname@example.org.