What’s a Hootenanny? Never mind; just keep on praising the Lord!

By Kenneth D. MacHarg

It’s interesting how what we take for granted may be an unknown to people from other locations or other generations.

Take a hootenanny—something that was an important cultural activity for my generation that is generally unknown to people several decades younger.

The last one I attended was part of a chapel service at the office of the Latin America Mission in Miami fifteen or more years ago. On that morning one person came in with a guitar, sat us in a circle and started to play familiar Christian music to which we all sang along. It went on for an hour, just great singing, strong praise and warm fellowship.

When it was all over a younger missionary said, “That was great.” I agreed, and replied that I had not been involved in a hootenanny in many years.

She looked at me with a blank stare and asked, “A what?”

Ah, such cultural deprivation.

(According to an online dictionary a hootenanny is “an informal gathering with folk music.” Indeed, in our generation we usually sang folk music with some protest songs mixed in as recorded by artists such as the Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Woody Guthrie among many others.)

Then there was the young woman who was asked to occasionally lead worship at one church we served. She agreed, but informed me that she had not started attending church until she was 17 when she committed herself to Christ. From there she attended a congregation that used only contemporary music. But, she said, if I wanted to use a more traditional hymn, she would do her best to learn it and lead it.

One week I requested that we use the great hymn “How Great Thou Art” in the worship. I sent her a link to You Tube where she could hear it. Her response was that it was a “nice song” and she would do her best.

However, on Sunday morning she approached me before the service with a worried look on her face and asked whether I thought people would know it.

I assured her that they would, and said, “Whenever we sing ‘How Great Thou Art’ everybody thinks they are George Beverly Shea and sings out loud and strong.”

She looked at me with a blank stare and asked, “George who?”

At that moment, I felt very old. (By the way, when I explained that Mr. Shea had accompanied Billy Graham in his crusades for many years, she said, “Billy Graham? I have heard of him.”)

Ah yes, the aging process isn’t just aching muscles, a slower gait and a fuzzy memory. It’s also a shift so great that there is, at worst, a divide which is sometimes difficult to cross and, at best, a totally different way of doing things that continue to glorify the Lord and bring people to Him even as they leave the older generation in the dust.

That being said, it is important and exciting to note that a younger generation is stepping in to pick up the leadership mantle and carry forth the work.

The older generation is leaving us (the next to last living professor from my days in seminary just died a month or two ago). With them they take their knowledge and experience, but also their own style of doing things and reaching out.

While I often miss the old ways, I am absolutely grateful for those who step forward and, in their own way, with the new technology and methodology, and address the need of a younger generation to know our Lord Jesus Christ.

I don’t always understand their ways or their technology or even their vocabulary (hootenanny? What’s that?).  But I want to cheer on their commitment and dedication.

I also want to encourage them to remain true to the Gospel; to focus worship on our Lord and not the worship leaders; and to preach the Word of God as revealed in the Bible rather than their own understandings or wise sayings or personal interpretations.

I am reminded of the eternal biblical truth:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.  Psalm 136

We will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4: 17

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

The word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:25

To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Jude 1:25

So, if you don’t know what a hootenanny is, don’t worry about it, just sing out praises to the Lord. If you don’t know who George Beverly Shea was, don’t worry about it; just keep witnessing to what Jesus Christ has done in your life.

As long as the methods are honest, the treatment of others just, and the proclamation of the Word is true to the Gospel, sing it out! Live it out!

Please feel free to leave comments on this site. Those comments posted through the button on this page will be posted if appropriate. Comments sent directly to me are welcome and I will respond, but they will not be posted. To receive notification of future posts, please click on the “follow” button at the top of this page or write to missionaryjournalist (at) gmail (dot) com. If you no longer wish to receive these announcements, please let me know at that same email address.


On being alert and taking simple action to avert a catastrophe

By Kenneth D. MacHarg

I read a fascinating news story about how, through being alert and taking simple action, a woman named Donna Hubbard was able to save a young boy from exploitation, and possibly from injury or death.

This alert airline employee on a flight from Honduras to the United States noticed a couple carrying a child who was sweating, lethargic and appeared to be in pain on her flight. According to Reuters, “After take-off, Hubbard and her crew spoke to the man and woman separately, who gave different names and ages for the boy. Hubbard told the Thomson Reuters Foundation she was suspicious that he was being trafficked, kidnapped or even being used as a drug mule.”

Most importantly, she did something about what she observed. She notified the pilot who radioed ahead for police to meet the plane upon its arrival.

Trafficking and human slavery statistics are overwhelming in our modern world. According to the Global Slavery Index, 46 million people globally are living as slaves, trafficked into exploitation, sold for sex or trapped in debt bondage.

That statistic is hard to believe. After all, didn’t we rid the world of the scourge of slavery through the work of William Wilberforce in England over two hundred years ago and with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 in the United States?

Obviously not. Today, slavery exists out-of-sight, but often in plain view in our own towns and cities. In fact, there is more slavery in the world today, including in the United States, than at any time in history, including before it was banned in so many countries.

I became fully aware of that when I read the incredible book Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade – and How We Can Fight It by Dr. David Batstone who is an ethics professor at the University of San Francisco.

Dr. Batstone tells the story of eating frequently at an Asian restaurant in the San Francisco area. It was one of his favorite places which contributed to his shock when he heard it had been raided after authorities discovered that most of the employees there were trafficked slaves.  His book is an excellent starting point to help us understand the extent and terror of this world-wide scourge.

Unfortunately, this horrendous crime is all around. But, many of us may have the opportunity to intercede and rescue a child, a woman, any person from this criminal, cruel treatment.

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of being alert to what is going on around us.

CNN offers these suggestions, especially to those who travel, whether by airplane, or along interstate highways:

Warning signs:

1 — A traveler is not dressed appropriately for their route of travel.

You might notice right away that a traveler has few or no personal items. Victims may be less well dressed than their companions. They may be wearing clothes that are the wrong size, or are not appropriate for the weather on their route of travel.

2 — They have a tattoo with a bar code, the word “Daddy.”

Many people have tattoos, so a tattoo in itself is obviously not an indicator, but traffickers or pimps feel they own their victims and a barcode tattoo, or a tattoo with “Daddy” or even a man’s name could be a red flag that the person is a victim.

3 — They can’t provide details of their departure location, destination, or flight information.

Traffickers employ a number of tools to avoid raising suspicion about their crime and to keep victims enslaved. Some traffickers won’t tell their victims where they are located, being taken, or even what job they will have.

Because victims don’t have the means to get home or pay for things like food, they must rely on traffickers in order to get by, forcing them to stay in their situation.

4 — Their communication seems scripted, or there are inconsistencies with their story

Sometimes traffickers will coach their victims to say certain things in public to avoid suspicion. A traveler whose story seems inconsistent or too scripted might be trying to hide the real reason for their travel and merely reciting what a trafficker has told them to say.

5 – They can’t move freely in an airport or on a plane, or they are being controlled, closely watched or followed.

People being trafficked into slavery are sometimes guarded in transit. A trafficker will try to ensure that the victim does not escape, or reach out to authorities for help.

6 – They are afraid to discuss themselves around others, deferring any attempts at conversation to someone who appears to be controlling them.

Fear and intimidation are two of the tools that traffickers use to control people in slavery. Traffickers often prevent victims from interacting with the public because the victim might say something that raises suspicions about their safety and freedom.

7 – Child trafficking

A child being trafficked for sexual exploitation may be dressed in a sexualized manner, or seem to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A child may appear to be malnourished and/or shows signs of physical or sexual abuse, such as bruises, scars, or cigarette burns.

All it took on the airline flight was the concern of Ms. Hubbard and her willingness to call in help. But it is going to take much more, from each one of us, to uncover and eliminate this torture: encouraging public officials to take action, participating in or contributing to one of the many organizations that work to alleviate the suffering, reading and being informed, keeping alert as we travel or shop or eat out, and praying.

I pray that each of us can be aware and be ready to step in and take action to save a life from slavery.


For more information, check out these websites:




https://www.ijm.org/ (A Christian organization)

Please feel free to leave comments on this site. Those comments posted through the button on this page will be posted if appropriate. Comments sent directly to me are welcome and I will respond, but they will not be posted. To receive notification of future posts, please click on the “follow” button at the top of this page or write to missionaryjournalist (at) gmail (dot) com. If you no longer wish to receive these announcements, please let me know at that same email address.