In India With Brian Wurzell
WL: Share a little about yourself:
BW: I’m Brian Wurzell and I’m the worship arts director at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Chandler, Arizona. I’ve been on staff here at Cornerstone since 2002. I grew up in Southern California under a very unique landscape of worship ministry. I started as a Jr. High student leading worship from the drums and eventually progressed to leading from an acoustic guitar. As a student I had incredible leaders/mentors who encouraged me and gave me many opportunities to grow as a young Worship Leader within the local church. I sort of fell into vocational ministry by nothing less than the pure call of God on my life. That unique calling moved me away from being a career Firefighter out to Arizona to be a full-time staff worship leader at Cornerstone where I’ve gratefully spent the last 10 years serving.
WL: What is your life’s passion as it regards worship?
BW: I am passionate about cultivating a people committed to worship seven days a week, which ultimately creates a pinnacle experience when we gather together. I’m also a guy that really believes that we need to have a biblical center for our worship and I’m constantly trying to be a better student and leader in this area. Good melodies and hooks are really important, but finding the songs that are also rich in biblical theology is the linchpin in my opinion. I love seeing the spiritual lights go on for people I’m leading as they sing their theology to a living and loving God.
WL: How did you find yourself in India recently?
BW: One of our strategic global partners at Cornerstone is a ministry called Harvest India (harvestindia.org). It’s one of the most well-led, Kingdom-minded and expansive ministries that I know of in the world. Dr. Suresh Kumar, President of Harvest India, has become one of my closest friends and global mentors and his invitation to “come to India” was the reason I went. Their ministry is located in Southern India, a few hundred miles North of the city of Chennai and they are working with the poorest of the poor in the country. They’re bringing humanitarian aid through every means (clean water, food distribution, medical care, AIDS/Hospice care, orphaned children homes, leper camps and the list goes on and on). The humanitarian aid is the entry point for Harvest India to then share the hope of the Gospel in Christ!
WL: What struck you the most during your time there?
Brian: The level of poverty in India isbeyond anything I’ve seen in the world. I’ve been around the globe and seen quite a few developing countries, but the level of mass poverty in India is like nothing my eyes have ever seen.
The thing that struck me in the most unique way was the gravity of the spiritual poverty. The latest statistics are 1.3 Billion people (and growing) and less than 3% of the population are professing Christians. Hinduism is the primary subscribed religious system in the nation and it is a confusing, oppressive set of beliefs that fuels the impoverished circumstances in their nation. Many of the people, while poor in physical terms, walk around with a hopelessness that can only be diagnosed as the spiritually poor. Truly, a nation ready for the hope of Jesus Christ!
I can, honestly, say that I believe that the nation of India is one of the most palatable places for the Gospel in the entire world. My awakening to what God is doing in India has only charged me up to be a voice to invite others (like YOU) to join God in what He’s doing in that place!
WL: What does the worship sound like there?
BW: Wow! The sound of the rescued in India is PASSIONATE, ALIVE, CHRIST-CENTERED and FULL OF HOPE! The Christians we worshiped alongside have a purpose-filled worship. They sing loud, they ALL participate and they take their gathering times seriously. Jesus is all to them!
Most of their worship gatherings, in the towns and villages, consist of a worship leader and a drum. So much of their musical sound is stripped back, instrumentally, but FULL ON with the sound of voices! It is simple yet powerful.
WL: Was there a specific story that will stick with you?
BW: One of the Harvest India Pastors I’ve had the privilege to get to know, Pastor Marritos, was so proud to invite us into his village to do an outreach alongside of his newly built church. It’s a small, nicely built, 4 walled building with a parsonage attached to it. After our outreach was done he invited us into his ‘home’. The parsonage is, roughly, a 200 sq. ft. space where he and his family of 5 live together. I was humbled by his excitement to show us what he had been given. He had a church, he had a HOME, he had his family and in turn he had all that he needed. You should see his smile…electrifying experience!
When I asked Pastor Marritos about the kind of persecution he had been facing in his village, he looked back at me with a look of confusion and essentially, through his beautiful smile, said, “I don’t understand the question. When have we NOT faced persecution for the sake of the Gospel?” Again, another reality-check for my Western ministry mind. My sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel looks pretty small in comparison to my brothers and sisters in India. Humbling thought.
WL: How have you been encouraged from this experience?
BW: When your eyes have seen the opportunity for the pervasive hope of the Gospel in such an overlooked nation, all I can say is that I’m encouraged by the chance we have to join God in what He is doing in that place. The need is great, and now is the time! We can’t wait to join God there. Literally, think about this, hundreds of MILLIONS of people don’t have the transforming hope of Jesus in their lives. We carry the hope and our Christian responsibility is to take it to them. I’m encouraged that we can meet their physical needs, in many ways, but, that we can ultimately meet their spiritual needs too! Native and well-poised ministries like Harvest India give me the hope that there are people who understand the culture and know how to get the job done too! With great partnerships in the Eastern world the Western world really can be a part of a revolutionary move of the Gospel in places like India.
WL: Tell us about “Found in You” the circumstances around writing it, how you want to use it, and how people can help.
BW: “Found in You” was birthed out of the trip to India in February 2012. I had the privilege of sharing this experience with my counter-part at Cornerstone Worship Arts Director, Ryan Axtell. Ryan is a gifted songwriter and worship leader and we have a blast working together! While we were in India we had the privilege of sharing a room together and it gave us the opportunity to process all that we were experiencing on our trip.
We would come back from a full day of ministry and talk about how God was moving amidst this broken nation. We would talk about things like how we sat with lepers…yes LEPERS…like Old Testament stuff. We had the chance to hear their stories and came to find that many of them have come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We watched while they clapped their fingerless hands together in worship and lifted their sore arms to a living God! We realized the way they are rejected by Indian culture but have been FOUND in the Kingdom of God. It was overwhelming. Christ in them is the only thing that can explain the joy they carried!
Ryan had this Scripture, Philippians 3:7-11, that kept surfacing as a lyrical theme. A melody quickly surfaced around these words from Paul. In this passage Paul is expounding on this theme that all he possessed, past or present, he counts as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus.
More and more we could not help but see this level of devotion and commitment in the Christ followers in India. Whether a local church Pastor, an outcast elderly person who had been brought into one of Harvest India’s Elderly Home’s, the orphan children who now have a place to call home, the women who are choosing the freedom of Christ out of the red light districts or the many transient lepers that we got to worship alongside. Each of these unique groups of people carried the weight of this concept of Christ being all that they need in this life.
So the choruses would revolve around that idea and the verses were in many ways around our spiritual perspective of what we were seeing during our trip. Being from the Western world and living in the lap of luxury/money/etc. it became clearer to us that ‘the riches of this world could never be enough, to capture my desire or satisfy my heart’. In many ways, it was watching the Christ followers in India that has inspired a new level of faith perspective for Ryan and me. We long to be Pastors that carry the words of this song all the way to the anthem of the Bridge; ‘we exalt the name of Jesus…be magnified in us’, whether rich or poor!
Our desire is that ‘Found In You’ would be a song that brings resourcing to the ever-needing ministry of Harvest India. Literally, all the proceeds that come in from this song will go directly to benefit the Gospel moving forward in the nation of India. We want this song to be an anthem of our church and we’d love people to support Harvest India by downloading the song from iTunes or sharing this story via Twitter/Facebook/Blog! Worship Leaders can help by doing the song and telling a bit of the story of what is happening in India as they introduce it to their communities! God is on the move in India and this is an easy way for us to let worship and justice prevail!
For all the info check out: foundinyou.com