In my last blog I shared how writing has become a hobby of mine even though I never really thought of it as a hobby. But over the years I have had plenty of experiences to write, mostly for newspapers. I always felt that I would like to write a book. But I never had a good theme or the actual motivation to begin that process. However, I did begin to write life stories as a legacy for my grandchildren and over the past decade I have probably written about 150 pages including photographs. For those who might be interested, much of this can be found on my website, fbfawana.com.
Besides this, the closest I have come to being a real author was the experience of being a consultant for Addison Wesley's Geometry textbook published in 1990. Unfortunately they spelled the name of my school incorrectly in the text. I have also written many test questions for standardized test companies.
But then came the internet. About 2000 I began building and editing a website for our Awana program. As it expanded I began to include numerous other features including a personal blog. It was fun to write on various topics but the blog was hard to access and was only available to those who found my Awana site. Then, in 2008, I came upon a free blog site and I started this personal blog on that site (barrysbasicblog.blogspot.com). And while I have added something about every five days since then, it has never taken off. I only have about 30 - 40 visits each week and I am really having difficulty finding interesting topics to blog about. The temptation to end this is getting stronger and few will miss it if I do.
However, shortly after setting up this personal blog I began to think that it might be fun to start a weekly hymn blog (barryshymns.blogspot.com) - as a hobby. And so, on October of 2008, I began the new blog. Now I am not a musician. I have limited English skills and vocabulary. I am not good at research or history. I don't have a deep knowledge of theology. But I do love the hymns. Each week I choose a hymn, try to find out some information about its writing, try to make some application, and then include a video of it being sung and my comments. I have done this for over 320 hymns at this point.
And guess what? Over the years it has taken off, far, far above my expectations. It has become a real ministry. Now I regularly have 750 - 800 visitors each week. And they come from all over the world. I specifically have had comments from England, Australia, Africa, South America and many states in the U.S. Let me leave you with just a sampling of the comments which I have received in recent years.
* "We sing hymns at the retirement home where I minister. The stories behind the hymns are sermon enough, and lead to teaching and resulting prayer. The Holy Spirit is using your hymn stories to minister to the elderly residents, that they may finish their race STRONG! Thank you!" On O THAT WILL BE GLORY FOR ME.
* "Another one of my favorites - when I sing it it helps put me back in my place & encourages me to keep Jesus FIRST in my heart. On ALL THAT THRILLS MY SOUL IS JESUS.
* "This is my favorite hymn. Brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Our church doesn't sing hymns anymore ... but I'm teaching my toddler. thank you for the background - amazing story." On VICTORY IN JESUS.
* "Thanks for your blog. It's a blessing to me. I was looking for the lyric of the song which our women's group will be singing for Mother's day. I'm excited about it because it means a lot to me. Growing up in Africa with my grandmother, we live in a slum like area and it would rain for days we wouldn't be able to leave our bed because our home was filled with water. My grandmother, a devoted Methodist, would sing this song in Kru, a Liberian dialect. And since then when I hear or sing it, it reminds me of faith in Christ in the midst of any storm. Be blessed and continue the good work. On MASTER THE TEMPEST IS RAGING.
* "I remember as a three year old sitting in my aunt's kitchen on the floor singing Heartaches take them all to Jesus and all of the adults were laughing at me. Now as a senior the words mean so much and are a daily prayer need! On HEARTACHES.
* "Even though I've been in full time Christian work since 1969, the tough times I am in now with 8 wks hospitalization, 12 surgeries, loss of my two incomes, and reduction as a very active person who is always helping others to an invalid has brought waves of loneliness and despair. When I heard Dr. Lutzer share the story of this hymn I cried realizing 1) I had no idea what hardship was relatively speaking 2) and in retrospect He HAS ALWAYS provided what as the hymn (based on Scripture) says. Thanks for the reminder and confirmation of the background. On HE GIVETH MORE GRACE
* 愛情不是慈善事業，不能隨便施捨。......................... On I SHALL KNOW HIM. (I think the translation might be something close to -"Love is not a charity, not a free handout.")
But the hymn with the most comments has been IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL. * "Thank you so much for sharing this blog and song. I was pouring my heart out to God this morning in prayer and the words to this old hymn came into my mind. What a delight to find the lyrics and also your blog. God bless you as you bless others." * "Thank you for this site! Woke up this am ... with an early morning "mental battle." The Holy Spirit brought the title of this hymn to mind but I couldn't remember the words so I'm thankful you have it posted. God is Good! As an aside, I feel badly for kids today who are not learning the old hymns of the faith. They are missing out on a rich heritage ... not to mention an arsenal of spiritual weapons! " * "I thought of this Hymn today. I am going thru a major life event that it shaking me down yet I am getting comfort from the family of God and this song." * "Thank you so much, I have had much loss and a very wicked past that Jesus delivered me from. It Will Be Worth It All is one of my favorites and no matter how things are going, when we sing it in church (which is often) I always tear up. I was singing it and kept messing the chorus and I was leaving out the part "Our trials will seem so small" so of course no matter how I tried to adjust the melody it was not fitting, thank you for your site because helped me to recall the correct words and I've been singing all night. Bless you and your family as you heed to the call of Jesus in your lives." * "This song came to mind today so I decided to "google" it because I wanted to know all the words. I'm dealing with some tough situations that are so daily. The problems I deal with will be here for the remainder of my earthly life unless God blesses me with a miracle. Anyway, I remember this song from my childhood. My dad was part of a men's quartet and "It Will Be Worth It All" was one of their favorites songs to sing. I can still hear them singing this song in my mind. I'm glad I found the words to each verse on your blog. They are very encouraging. Thank you."
So there is a quick sampling. Please pray for me and for this hymn blog as I try to continue it each week. I feel so inadequate for this ministry but I also understand that the Lord has unexpectedly used my writing experience to touch the lives of many around the world. And that is humbling and a heavy responsibility during my retirement years.