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 Alice Kimanzi on doing it afraid.
For the first time in weeks, it was sunny on a Sunday morning. The whole team at Nairobi Chapel South was in early and prepping for service. Alice Kimanzi was doing a final run through with the band, and by the time the service started at 11 am, there was no doubt in my mind that I had made the right choice in interviewing this worship leader.
Having served alongside Alice Kimanzi in the past, I have watched both from a distance and closely, her desire for God, and commitment to ministry, so after the service ended, we sat down with Alice and went through the easiest interview I have ever conducted. [Side note- this is the first interview I am doing for the blog].
My first question to Alice was to get to know the woman outside of singing…to find out something she doesn’t often talk about. When I asked her to tell me something people don’t know about her, her answer came after a slight pause, a smile then, “I love to bake…carbs are my friends…” we both laughed. I laughed because looking at her, she doesn’t look like someone who has a close relationship with carbs.
As earlier noted, this interview is for a new segment on my blog- called to worship, so I quickly went into the crux of the matter by asking Alice how she has balanced the worship ministry and her family.
Alice’s answer reflected the deep value she has for family and the joy of having one’s ministry validated right from home. In fact, she started off with an “Oh My Gosh!” exclamation, then she went on to say “I am truly grateful for my husband because he is very supportive of my ministry. In fact he is the one who pushes me to do it. Also, he gives me feedback in areas I can improve each time and even when guys say “oh we enjoyed”, he will honestly tell me where I can do better…”
The statement about her husband pushing her to do it, hinted to the fact that her journey has not been without trials, so as I asked her this next question, it was in the context of how difficult the worship ministry can be…
As worship leaders, we have things that we struggle with, how have you handled this?
Alice: Huh!! All my adult life I have struggled with my health. Some people have testimonies of being brought out of the world and how God delivered them. I grew up in a Christian family and gave my life to Christ when I was thirteen. My testimony has been that His grace is sufficient. Many times before singing I will get a sore throat, sinuses, something will happen that will force me to rely on the grace of God. It’s never about my voice, my knowledge or skill. I also struggle with confidence on stage, but I always hear the Holy Spirit saying: “You just worship, the rest will flow.”
Nita: You are leading a worship team at Nairobi Chapel, how has this been? Was it your first experience at leadership?
Alice: Yes, and this is my second year leading a team. It has been such a wonderful learning experience and the greatest lesson I’ve learned is that volunteers are people, they’re neither children, nor machines. They are going through life, and life is very dynamic to say the least. They are serving because they love God and God really values them. Also, I’ve learned to pray for them because God sees me as their servant.
Nita: You talked about being a servant to those whom you lead, what has informed this leadership style?
Alice: Yes indeed! This is not the first time I have been in a worship team. I have been on the receiving end of not so great leadership where I was treated as a person fulfilling a need…as a vocalist. Unfortunately, it was made clear that this need was more important than the person filling it. Therefore, I could not go to my leader to find concern, compassion or loving direction when I needed it. I decided from that point to never treat people like they are just filling a space. Love God, love people. And that’s what God will ask me: Did you love me? How did you treat people?
Nita: What advice would you give to an emerging worship leader?
Alice: I will quote a friend, Pastor Andy, he always says do what God has called you to do while you’re still afraid! There is no time you feel ready, you will make mistakes along the way, but don’t let the fear hold you back! It’s not about you, it’s about Him.
Nita: What is on your playlist now?
Alice: Travis Greene, Fred Hammond, Anthony Evans
Nita: What books have impacted your life?
Alice: The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
My take home from this interview: People matter, how you lead them even more. I will leave you with a beautiful portion of scripture that further affirms this:
…You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:25-28).
Listen here for Alice Kimanzi’s music.
Pictures of Alice Kimanzi taken by Complement Pictures.