‘We played worship songs in a war zone’ (2024)

Worship leaders Mark and Carrie Tedder recently held ‘Concerts of Hope’ for Arabs and Jews in Israel. Their mission was to play healing music over troubled souls, but when the air raid sirens sounded, their own faith was put to the ultimate test

‘We played worship songs in a war zone’ (1)

You just sat and waited for the rockets to fall on you?!

My wife Carrie, and I have recently returned from spendingnine weeks in Israel.

Our mission was to play music to the troubled, traumatised, and broken souls of the land, following the attack on 7 October.

Some have wondered if we played our worship concerts in churches and for Messianic believers, to encourage them. And while we did play a couple of 24/7 prayer houses, for the most part our mandate was to play the harp over troubled souls. We did not play in churches; we took the music to the people in kibbutzim, hospitals, hotel lobbies, courtyards, beaches and theatres.Both Arabs and Israelis came to our ‘Concerts of Hope’.

We arrived on 1 April, armed only with love, our instruments, a small PA system, and a selection of songs in Hebrew.

When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, he told them to“go to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 10:6). That was what our mission was all about.

The Psalmist, David, was also our model. When King Saul was tormented by an evil spirit, the Bible records, “David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would feel relieved and become well, and the evil spirit would leave him.” (1 Samuel 16:23, NASB)

We knew the evil images of war, the distressing sounds of sirens and the horror of people having to flee their homes were the source of trauma in young and old minds alike. Wewere keen to try something we’ve done in other restricted countries; to play music over the traumatised in public places. It was scary!

The Lord is our refuge

In the weeks that followed, we cried with people, embraced them, and listened to their stories.

We held workshops for worship leaders, musicians and artists from the Galilee, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem teaching on subjects such as ‘Music is Medicine’ where we unpacked the philosophical and spiritual aspects of music, noting the power it has to alleviate mental and emotional trauma.

‘We played worship songs in a war zone’ (3)

But within a few days, our mission was interrupted. The USState Department issued a text to all American citizens living or visiting Israel, saying that an attack from Iran was imminent.

My wife Carrie and I were in a deep sleep when our phones started vibrating with numerous text messages from friends and family members around the world asking, “Are you guys ok?”, “Can you get the next flight out?”, “Please stay safe!”

We immediately scanned local news sources in Israel and learned that over 300 missiles and drones had been launched directly at us, and that Jerusalem should expect impact within the next hour.

What did we do? How did we prepare?

I was asked that question two weeks later byAmit, a school teacher working in the town of Sderot, just 1 kilometre from the Gaza border.

She wanted to know: “What exactly did you do?”

As the sirens blared across Jerusalem, Carrie and I had sat on the sofa and read the first four verses of Psalm 91:

“Whoever dwells in the shelterof the Most Highwill rest in the shadowof the Almighty.I will say of theLord, ‘He is my refugeand my fortress,my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save youfrom the fowler’s snareand from the deadly pestilence.He will cover you with his feathers,and under his wings you will find refuge;his faithfulness will be your shieldand rampart.”

After reading this, we sent voice messages to our two boys and grandkids. Then we said a prayer, kissed, embraced and shared some very private words with one another. And then…we waited.

“You mean you just sat there and waited?!” Amit exclaimed.

“Yes, we were ready,”I replied.

“Ready for what?” Amit asked.

“We know what comes next. We’ve lived a good life, have two boys and seven grandkids that are taken care of… and we have hope!”

“How can you be so certain?” Amit asked with hollow eyes and a longing gaze.

That conversation was repeated almost daily with secular Arabs and Israelis we engaged with, as well as many Orthodox Jews. They were all surprised that we came to Israel in a time of war to play music. And they wanted to know what motivated us.

Pray for the peace of Israel. Tedders ok. 1am here. High altitude rumblings. No sleep tonight. Fully dressed, reading the Psalms, on our phones. Trusting in our good, good Father.

— Carrie Tedder (@Cttravels1) April 13, 2024

The Gospel shines

‘We played worship songs in a war zone’ (4)

Our faith was put to the ultimate test the entire nine weeks. As Christians we have a choice to run towards the battle, or retreat and do nothing and wait for the outcome. For whatever reason he chooses, God seems to always push Carrie and I to take worship where the risk seems highest; North Korea, Tibet, China, North Africa, Cuba, Myanmar…To us, it has always been part of our mandate and desire, to take the gospel to some of the darkest, remotest parts of the planet.

When it comes to the politics of this conflict it is very easy, as we say in America, to take the position of an “armchair quarterback”, and judge from the comfort of our homes. I want to take a different path.I am a songwriter, author and worship leader, not a politician, diplomat or advocate. If you have a strong position either way on the rights and wrongs of this war, I respect that. My mission wassimply to serve those I met who were broken, traumatised, and in need of healing.

The truth is that in war, no one really ever wins. Battles may be won, but ideologies and beliefs go back thousands of years. There are no easy answers. But as Christians we can and must pray for all the peoples of this land that God loves.

Lord have mercy.

‘We played worship songs in a war zone’ (2024)


What is the purpose of war songs? ›

Music has been used in warfare since ancient times, from synchronizing marches to coordinating cannons. Inspiring melodies and stirring rhythms have been manipulated in thousands of ways to inspire recruitment, maintain troop morale, rally the country around a cause, and comfort bereaved families.

What are prayer songs written to praise and worship God called? ›

Hymns are religious songs which praise God or gods. Hymns can be traced to many ancient cultures, including ancient Egypt, India, and Greece. Christian hymns in Medieval times included Latin psalm texts from the Old Testament set to simple melodies called a Gregorian chant and sung by monastic choirs.

What is the message of the song war? ›

Edwin Star recorded and released “War” in March 1970. The song is an anti-Vietnam-war statement. However, his message includes a broader meaning as it addresses a general need for harmony and global peace. Today, more than fifty years later, the song still protests the same worldwide issues.

Why do people play music in war? ›

Music is omnipresent in war because it can be used to help both attackers and victims deal with the physical and psychological trauma of war. Music, while not inherently “good”, can be used for healing. War requires an altered state of being, and music allows soldiers to alter their state of mind.

What are the 4 types of worship songs? ›

I use four categories for worship songs: Invitation, Declaration, Response, and Encounter. Songs of invitation do just what the title says. They invite. But they don't invite God into a service, as you might think.

What is the purpose of worship music? ›

The church's ministry of song is for the glory of God.

Music is made first of all to the Lord and only secondarily to each other. Music should communicate and express a sense of awe and wonder in the presence of God; it should lead our thoughts toward God rather than toward ourselves.

What's the difference between praise and worship songs? ›

This is the bottom line about praise & worship: the sacrifice of praise is the “fruit of the lips”, but worship is the “fruit of the heart!” Worship is about love and appreciation. Praise is about an outward communication from actions. We can have a proud heart and still pronounce the goodness of God.

What is the function of the war song? ›

Some show the negative aspects of war, while others satirize war. Most promote peace, in some form or another, while others speak out against certain specific armed conflicts. Many of these songs are considered protest songs, and some have been embraced by various peace movements.

What is the purpose of military music? ›

Much of the military music has been composed to announce military events as with bugle calls and fanfares, or accompany marching formations with drum cadences, or mark special occasions as by military bands.

Why does the military sing songs? ›

Many indoctrinated individuals will state that singing a cadence while running or marching helps SMs keep their heads up, take deeper breaths and exhale more forcefully and that this increases oxygen to the lungs and gives the body more energy.

Why are war chants important? ›

With chants it was a way to bring many to one purpose. Immediately before battle, where the enemy can hear, it is done to dishearten them, and/or encourage you and yours.

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