Called to worship is a segment on my blog that highlights the lives and ministries of worship leaders who are making an impact in Kenya, Africa and beyond. The idea is to interact with worship leaders whose faith and stories inspire us to be better ministers. Here is my interview with George Adede on- Signs and wonders.
George Adede’s life reads like a movie. As I sat in his office at Parklands Baptist Church, where he is the associate worship pastor, my jaw dropped a couple of times as I listened to stories upon stories of God’s providence and miracles. George Adede was at one point the leader of the acapella group Safari. Growing up, I listened to the group’s music and it certainly influenced how I viewed music as a teenager.
George Adede comes from a big family of believers. He gave his life to Christ at the age of ten. Back then, he had the reputation of stealing and his family was not so enthusiastic about the confession of his faith. However, in High School, he was privileged to go to a Christian camp where he discovered what it truly means to be a Christian. This camp was the beginning of his amazing adventure of faith.
It was at subsequent camps that he and six other young men from Shauri Moyo and other places formed the group Safari. Safari started off as a basketball team, but grew to the well-known worship group. “Initially,” George said nostalgically, “it was a struggle, having to walk all the way from Shauri Moyo to Parklands Baptist church and back, borrowing clothes so as to look presentable to those we ministered to…we walked for six years, every day of the week.”
The practice was rigorous but it paid off, with invitations to sing everywhere. “Our highlight was when the former president- Moi sent his aides to look for us. In those days, there were no mobile phones. After three months of searching with no success, they finally burst into the lead pastor’s office and demanded that he deliver a letter with the president’s own seal.” That invitation was not to be taken lightly as anyone who opened the letter, other than the intended recipient could be imprisoned for up to seven years. All this, to sing at the Jamhuri celebrations private garden party at State House. “When we started singing, we never requested to sing at venues, we were invited by people who had heard our music.”
Nita: Safari toured widely in London, Wales, Manchester and Germany. How did you make that happen?
One gentleman Zack Waweru decided to disciple us because he loved what we were doing. We had a bible study in his home once a week. Zack played a huge role in the growth of our music ministry. He sent one of our recordings to a producer friend in London. Six months later, we received a call inviting us to tour. My mum was afraid that I wanted to achieve so much and we couldn’t afford it. Luckily, Zack’s uncle worked at the immigration office and the rest of the group got their passports except me. At the time, it was hard for individuals from Luo-Nyanza to get a passport, so the process it took to vet me meant that the passport and visa came out late, however I finally got the documents. We also eventually got all our tickets paid for and we did not know by whom. I did not believe that someone from Shauri Moyo could get tickets to travel to London without having to do a fundraising.
When we got to England, we were so booked, we had a three year booking. Like in Kenya, we did not look for gigs, but got so many invitations.
Nita: I know you to believe that God still works through signs and wonders. What was your experience in Safari?
At one point, we were afraid that God would call us home…as in die…because we were not all living right, yet God was doing things that scared us. For example, there was a church we went to in Germany- a multi-cultural church. We sang a particular song that led the whole church to tears. Such occurrences became commonplace. We would sing at airports, homes and again and again, the experience was the same… God showed up.
Families would follow us up to 800 km just to watch us sing. We started wondering why God would use us yet some of us were not living right. We started asking questions such as “Does God use a clean and willing vessel?” It scared us so much that we decided to all live right or stop all this. We understood that we were so accountable to God that we did not want to confuse anyone.
On one occasion, hungry in our house in England, we held hands as the group, believing that God would provide food for us miraculously. He did. A few seconds after making that prayer, the doorbell rang. At the door, a friend told us how he had been meaning to take us to dinner for the longest time. I wish you could have seen our faces… or his face at our reaction to a dinner offer. On another occasion, a woman whose marriage was on the rocks bought our album, declaring that the music would be an instrument to save her marriage, and true to her word, her marriage survived.
There are countless miracles we saw God perform and looking back, I can confidently say that the dispensation of miracles has not ended.
Nita: Did all these experiences change you either positively or negatively?
The process in England changed us. We ascribed to St. Francis of Assisi’s thought: preach the gospel, where possible use words. When we were invited to sing, we would just sing, not even introduce ourselves. We were invited to sing in Germany, in schools and in auditoriums and the crowds that came to watch us were non-Christians. The West is so strict about religion in schools; the reason they allowed us to sing in schools was because we never preached. We even sang at a mosque. That changed our perspective of what it means to minister.
People we grew up with did not look at us the same way. It changed how we related with people. It also meant that we move from Shauri Moyo. Fortunately, money issues did not come up. In addition, it opened up our minds to believe that we could achieve more than what we had initially dreamed.
Nita: What would you advise the next generation worship leader who may be struggling to make it in ministry, yet they believe they are called?
Be tuned into God’s voice. When you are doing God’s business, he takes care of yours. Are you doing this so that you can be blessed or are you doing this because God has called you? The blessings are not an indicator that the calling is confirmed. Another thing is doctrine. Think about your lyrics. Also, if you do not have people who genuinely critique you, you may turn out like Solomon. Surround yourself with people who correct you and love you. Get godly people to manage you. Be yourself and as you sing, let people respond to God and not to you.
What is on your playlist now?
Old classics like Gaither, Andre Crouch
What are you reading?
The bible study on War room and the Christian’s Counselor’s Manual.
Listen to Safari’s music here