A few months ago on Facebook there started to be some talk of a reunion for a group of us known as the “Sure Foundation Youth Choir”, a group I was a part of 20 to 30 years ago. The last time we got together was about 15 years ago for a reunion of sorts to celebrate the birthday of one of our fearless leaders, Pastor Ken Severe who has since gone on to be with the Lord several years ago. As I think about “Sure Foundation” I see the rich heritage we had in being a part of it, a heritage that often times is overlooked or forgotten by some, and yet it is probably one of the richest heritages one can find anywhere for a youth choir or youth group.
The Sure Foundation Youth Choir wasn’t your typical youth choir for a number of reasons. At one time we had about 175 youth involved with it, and if that wasn’t unique enough, the guys outnumbered the girls causing our Music Director to modify the music to some extent. About half of the guys were in the bass section, of which I was one, and were known as “The Get-Down Boys”. We also had a ‘kickin’ band that often times would break into a jam session after a service only to trigger another period of time praising and worshiping God. Another attribute of the Sure Foundation Youth Choir was that it was at times hard to differentiate between it and the youth group as a whole as so much of the youth group was involved in it. Our youth group was comprised of junior high, high school, and those who were college and career age.
As I reflect on my years with Sure Foundation a lot of memories come to mind, in fact too many to share in this blog. I remember our weekly practices often times turning into a time of worship and ministry well beyond just practicing songs, usually triggered by some choice words from our Youth Pastor, Ken Severe. I remember the spaghetti dinners we would host, one of many fundraisers we would do to raise money for our different tours. In regards to the tours we would have both weekend long tours and extended tours of about two weeks in length. We wouldn’t go very far on the weekends, but on the extended tours we traveled to Texas/Oklahoma, Hawaii, and Canada during the summer breaks. With the exception of the tour to Hawaii, we would travel by way of buses the church owned and used for its bus ministry, on average using three or more buses on each tour. Riding the bus on our Texas and Oklahoma tour ended up being “interesting” as the drivers tried to shake the boredom of long hours driving through the barren hot deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. I remember taking showers in our bathing suits under a flow of cold water from a garden hose in the front of churches, as well as the snoring that could be heard from clear across the other end of the church. And I can’t forget how we were challenged to learn the Evangelism Explosion questionnaire to give us another tool to reach out to a lost and hurting people we would encounter on tour.
Despite how many tours we would go on or how long they were, it’s rather surprising there wasn’t more drama and conflict than there was. As I mentioned earlier, there was a very close connection between the youth choir and the youth group in that those in the youth choir were more than likely a part of the youth group and the various activities and ministries it was involved in. I remember the youth group being very busy. We were very involved in bus ministry on a weekly basis two or three days a week, helping with Saturday Children’s Church because our buses brought in too many to bring them all in on Sundays, and mission trips to Mexico, just to name a few.
One of the main reasons for the heart and focus of the youth group and youth choir was our Youth Pastor. He was probably the driving force God used to make us feel important and a part of the group. He wasn’t one to let us slack off or hide in a corner, and often times he would rapidly poke a finger into our chest to get our attention and challenge us to straighten up. I can remember him telling us that if he could shake us real hard to make us live right and for the Lord then he would do it, but also telling us that it was not a decision he could make for us because only we could make that for ourselves. Even though many were committed to living for the Lord back then, there were also some who either tried to ‘walk the fence’ or lived double lives, living one way when around us and living a completely different way when we weren’t around. And that brings me full circle back to when talk of a possible reunion was started a few months ago.
When talk of a reunion started a few months ago, I noticed in some of the group chats that some were talking of their past in a way that seemed like they were feeling shame and embarrassment. What was so encouraging was the response by others to encourage them and let them know they are not alone, and that God is bigger than their past. That is both a testament and a reflection of the bonds that had been created among so many of us during those early years. As I read those posts and remembered years long past, I’m reminded of the name of our youth choir, “Sure Foundation”. Sure Foundation was both a proclamation of our decision to build our lives on Christ, and a message to others that Christ is the sure foundation they can also build upon. As I alluded to earlier, many in our group were building their lives on the solid rock of Jesus, and still others were building their lives on shifting sand. In looking forward to the present we can see this still to be true. While it is true that many “appear” to have avoided the ‘curve balls’ of life and haven’t experienced the pitfalls of others, there are still many more that have been dealt a raw deal in one way or another over the years. Those who have experienced some of the pitfalls of life, of which I am one, can feel pretty discouraged and shunned by some. Sometimes the pitfalls came as a result of poor judgment or bad decisions, and sometimes they come from no fault of our own and out of our control, but none the less they came. Christians have often times been accurately accused of “shooting” our wounded and kicking those who have fallen among us, and that should not be the case. Those who are hurt and wounded among us, either self-inflicted or otherwise, need to know that the family of God is a safe family to be a part of, one that helps, encourages and supports the wounded to heal and to rise above those pitfalls.
Going back to a “sure foundation”, all have weathered the storms of life, but not everyone experiences a storm at the magnitude of a Katrina. For those who build their life on shifting sand don’t always have to experience a major storm of life to fall or sink, but those who build their lives on the solid rock of Jesus can weather any storm that comes their way no matter how strong and violent it may be. As I read the chats talking of a reunion and the comments of some regarding their past, it was exciting to me to hear that despite the storms of life they went through they had dug in and drew closer to the risen Savior. They had been building their lives on the solid rock of Jesus, or if they hadn’t been they quickly changed that, and though they’ve experienced some strong storms along the way they are still standing. Granted, weathering some of the storms they had may have been great and hard to endure, but getting past the guilt, shame and embarrassment that some storms bring may be harder to endure and overcome for some, but in Christ there is life after the storm.
Years ago we proclaimed the sure foundation founded on Christ, not really realizing what that meant, but now we’ve come to understand what it really means to build on that foundation, and it’s good. It’s been a SURE FOUNDATION, INDEED. Maybe you realize that you haven’t been building your life on the solid rock of Jesus, and if so today is a good time to start. The only way to stay standing when the storms of life come is to build our lives on Jesus, and to build it on anything or anyone else will only lead to failure and collapse.
Jesus is, again, a SURE FOUNDATION, INDEED.