Here’s One: A Testimony to God’s Faithfulness

Looking for a great Christmas gift for friends, family or your pastor? “Here’s One” is a story of God’s faithfulness throughout 40 years of international ministry with Jon Stemkoski and Celebrant Singers. Just $20 + $5 shipping for a SIGNED COPY of this pre-publication edition! Simply write it in the Order Notes on the checkout page and let us know to whom and the author and founder Jon will personalize each book. 

Enjoy an excerpt below…

It was a very early morning…especially for a guy who always wanted to be, and occasionally got to be, a ‘morning person,’ but most of the time lived life somewhat nocturnally.

The night before yielded precious little sleep as seemingly thousands of thoughts cycled through my mind. This was not my standard de rigueur. Normally I slept very well. When my body was tired, my brain virtually always cooperated by turning off the days’ events and sleep usually came quickly and easily. But not last night.

How could we possibly be here? What components lined up to lead to this extraordinary opportunity? It was, at least, tremendously surreal.

We showered, dressed, had our morning coffee, got our nearly six-month-old daughter, Chelsea, fed and clothed and made our way down to the lobby of the Hotel Argentina. Our bus was waiting. I’ve always loved the smell of diesel in the morning but today it was particularly exhilarating. Our Luxembourg driver, Clement (Clem), greeted us warmly and made over Chelsea, giving her his customary morning hug and kiss, while the team finished last-minute packing. Did we have all the equipment — all the proper cords and connectors? Today there was no room for error. Thankfully, years of practice and a deep-seated philosophy of daily excellence paid off. We did have everything and we were ready to go.

With amazing skill and seeming ease Clem began to navigate the narrow streets of the ancient city, making our way to that morning’s venue. We were headed to the Vatican.

Speedily ushered through three levels of security, Rome police, Vatican police and the iconic Swiss guard, I was taken by how quickly it all transpired. It was as though they were expecting us…and, of course, they were! Soon we stood at our assigned spot on the hallowed, revered steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, overlooking the massive expanse of St. Peter’s square. Was this really happening?

It was still early, only 6:00a.m. or so. As we’d done thousands of times before, we went to work like a well-oiled machine setting up our equipment, laying cords straight, testing microphones…testing 1,2,3…testing 1,2,3…. We hooked up to the main Vatican sound system hoping and praying it would all work. This was not a day to have something go wrong!

Hours passed unnoticed and before we knew it, the immense crowd had gathered, loudly buzzing…pressing tightly against the heavy white wooden barricades. The air was electric. Anticipation mounted as the most popular Pope in recent memory arrived to the adoring cheers of thousands. So many thousands! Rome police estimated one million people in the streets that day, with nearly 500,000 within earshot of what we were about to do.

In a seeming instant, the announcement came booming over that massive sound system….. ‘We welcome today, the CELEBRANT SINGERS, from…from…from ViZalia in California!’ The young priest-announcer had bobbled the name of our beloved hometown! But no time to quibble…we were on! It was time to sing!

‘We have come into His house, and gathered in His
Name to worship Him,
We have come into His house and gathered in His Name
to worship Him,
We have come into His house, and gathered in His Name
to worship Christ the Lord,
Worship Him, Christ the Lord!

So forget about yourself and concentrate on Him and
worship Him,
So forget about yourself……’

It was an amazing morning. We sang and shared the gospel with half a million people on the steps of St. Peter’s in Rome. The entire event was broadcast worldwide via Radio Vaticana, reaching untold millions more. A Vatican official approached us and said, ‘We want to put a little wire into your sound system. And when we do, you’ll be on worldwide radio. What would you like to sing?’ And then, with a wry smile he added, ‘Don’t be nervous.’

We had about two minutes before going live. My mind was racing through our repertoire. If I had to pick one song to be heard ‘round the world…what would it be? What message does North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the islands of the sea need to hear? Instantly it came to me. I informed the team and on the official’s cue we began to sing…

‘Above His Name there is no other Name,
The One who is eternally the same,
There is no other Name.

The first and last beginning and the end,
He was a king who made the common man His friend,
There is no other Name.
Let every tongue proclaim and praise the Name of Jesus!’

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Confucionists, Shintoists, Jainists, Taoists, Zoroastrians, Bahais, Tribals, Atheists, Agnostics and multitudes who identify as ‘non religious’ all heard the gospel that day as through that song Jesus was proclaimed for who He is…the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

When it was all over, we found ourselves at a lovely Italian café, savoring pasta al dente and discussing the entire affair. Did we really just do that? Did we really sing to half a million people – the largest crowd at a Papal audience since 1951 – from the steps of St. Peter’s? Did Pope John Paul II really come by to greet us all personally, hold, kiss and bless my precious daughter, Chelsea, and stand right next to the team, listening admiringly, smiling and nodding approvingly to our songs? Did all that really happen? How many doors for sharing the gospel would this day open? None of us could possibly know. It was God’s secret, only to be revealed in His time.

We need new equipment!

One thing we excel at in Celebrants is being good stewards of money. Every penny is stretched as far as it can go to best utilize what God has entrusted to us.

An example of our good stewardship is the sound system. The majority of it is 20 years old(older than some team members), and has been all over the world. We’ve flown and driven our equipment millions of miles, and they’ve held up well — repairs/duct tape as needed — but they are showing their age. They don’t sound like they used to, and things are breaking down more and more. There are much better things on the market that can raise our concert quality to the next level. It’s time for the next generation of sound equipment to take us through the next decade of ministry.

We’re trying to raise $15,000 for the first team of all new equipment focused on 3 things: Durability, Audio Quality, and Transportability.

Durability – The equipment needs to last at least 10 years and accrue its own millions of miles

Audio Quality – We aim for a high musical concert quality, and need audio equipment that can keep up.

Transportability – Air travel has considerably changed over the last 20 years, and weight requirements are much more stringent.

We’ve selected equipment to fit these goals and created a list of prices for the main items. NOW WE NEED YOUR HELP TO GET US THERE!

What can you do?

Donate below, every bit helps!

OR

Pick out a piece of equipment from the list to “buy” for us and write it in the description box. e.g. speaker
Note: you can put in the amount after clicking the paypal Donate button.


Donate for New Equipment



4 Electro-Voice Speakers$500 /ea
1 Electro-Voice Subwoofer$800
4 Speaker bags$100 /ea
2 Electro-Voice Vocal Monitors$329 /ea
8 Audio-Technica Instrument Microphones$279 /ea
Yamaha Digital Soundboard Package$6000
6 Chauvet White LED stage lights$399 /ea
4 Chauvet color LED stage lights$150 /ea
Chauvet Light board$179


Nels on a ferry in South America

Nels Herring has worked and traveled with Celebrants for 8 years as a sound technician and assistant director on the bus, and technical guru in the office. He knows firsthand the state of celebrant sound equipment and has shouldered the main responsibility of fixing and keeping everything running. He mixes sound professionally in the community and spends his summers “on the road” with Celebrants.


Would you like more info about our sound equipment campaign? Send Nels a message!

The 7th Annual Bowl-A-Thon

Shine up the ball….oil up the lanes….lace up your shoes….limber up that arm….get your team together….raise lots of sponsorship….and prepare to have a ton of fun!

It’s CELEBRANT SINGERS Bowl-A-Thon time again!

Sunday afternoon, April 30th marks the 7th annual fundraiser for our summer outreaches. We’re currently seeking lane sponsors and motivated teams to make this event another God-honoring success! The annual WorldTouch Bowl-A-Thon not only helps fund our summer outreaches, but brings the community together in fellowship and the celebration of God’s faithfulness. It’s a wonderful opportunity to have fun with CELEBRANTS of the past, community members who generously contribute their time and finances to help send us out, as well as families and church communities that all come together for an exciting time in Visalia, CA. Don’t miss this event! Get involved! Build a team… sponsor a lane….. come and bowl with us! For more information reach out to Barry Sjostrand, our Director of Development, at 800-321-2500 Ext. 4005.

 

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CASMEC Conference

 

This year our CS Admissions Dept. headed to San Jose, CA for the annual California All-State Music Education Conference. Admissions Director, Myriam Stemkoski, spent the weekend in February speaking and sharing our ministry vision with people from all over California.

The conference brings Music Educators together from throughout the State and Mimi, along with Admissions Counselor, Josiah Smith, attended and participated in search of future Celebrants!

Get Involved!

When we’re on the road ministering the gospel, we often wish our prayer and financial support partners could be right there with us…to see, feel and experience all of the marvelous ways God works through us. Most of the time it’s not possible, so we try to share it the best we can through our testimonies and photos. Please know that your prayer and financial support places you right there with us on the mission field.
When the Body of Christ works together properly, amazing things happen. People’s lives change. CELEBRANT SINGERS are goers and you can be a sender. We both need each other and we each play an important role. Together we can make a difference in the churches and parishes of the United States and in the lives of thousands on the mission field! Here are some concrete ways…

God bless you for your generosity!

WorldTouch Partners
A very dedicated group of people from all over America pray regularly for us and contribute anywhere from $20 to $500 monthly via “automatic payment” from their bank… we call them our WorldTouch Partners. They undergird the ministry with prayer and help provide a solid, consistent base of support to help us fulfill our calling. Contact Barry Sjostrand to join this important group!

NEW BUS FUND
Our two 1984 vintage buses desperately need to be replaced. We’re looking for special gifts of $500, $1,000, $5,000 or even more to make this a reality by Summer 2017. The timing is perfect to include us in your year end giving! Perhaps God has blessed you financially this year… maybe you’ve even received an inheritance of some kind… want to put it to good use? Invest it in the Kingdom of God through the CS bus fund! Please contact Joe Enea, Barry Sjostrand or Jon Stemkoski regarding this opportunity!

VOLUNTEER
More than ever before, as we approach our 40th Anniversary, we need volunteer assistance. Making phone calls, data entry, locating Celebrant alumni, stuffing envelopes, etc. are only a few of the areas of need. We’d love to include you! Please contact Chelsea (Stemkoski) Herman to join our growing volunteer team!

ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
A gift of $15,000 will replace outdated sound and lighting equipment, $3,000 will send an International Celebrant from a third world country on the road for 10 weeks!
$1,000 a month ($12,000 annually) will support a fulltime CS office worker… We need two!
$500 a month ($6,000 annually) will provide for a part-time CS office worker… We need three!

Please contact our Director of Ministry Advancement, Barry Sjostrand at 800-321-2500 x 4005, for any of these opportunities.