Kurt Coble is a delivery partner with Instruments of Joy and has witnessed the impact of many IOJ instrument deliveries in South America and Africa.
Kurt Coble: Hi my name is Kurt Coble. About eight years ago I started an organization with a friend called World Music Mission. Its goal was two things: 1.) To get musicians into missions from this area of Nashville, since we have a lot of them. Many people think of missions as I have to use a hammer, I got to be a doctor, but we found that musicians were needed in the mission field for training other musicians, giving what we know here in Music City. And then, serving missionaries and other people in worship leading. That was the first purpose. The second purpose was 2.) to discover the music of the nations, to bring the nations together in worship so that we could see the beauty of their worship to create more harmony in the church across cultural lines.
IOJ: Can you describe your ministry and tell a bit about where you have served?
Kurt: At the organization World Music Mission, we’ve been to many places. I’ve been myself to Brazil, to Chile, Mexico, different places in Europe, and to Africa a few times. What we do is create a place for musicians to come together, to learn and train together so that they can go back out into their communities and then they find their spot in the community as an excellent, trained musician who can lead the people efficiently and effectively and then be a magnet for other musicians around them. Therefore, our job of 2 Timothy 2:2 is being accomplished.
“The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” — 2 Timothy 2:2
IOJ: How does music play a role in how you serve in those communities?
Kurt: Music is the medium that we use to connect with other people who are interested in that art and who are drawn to that art. We give a sense of community and understanding to those who say “I’m interested in this, I have a passion to learn it, now what do I do with it in worship to God, how do I use it as a tool?” Music leads the charge. So, much like King David brought the ark back to his town, the city of David, because he wanted the blessing of God there, they had the musicians in front. It was an announcement: ‘The presence of God is coming!’ Everywhere I go, musicians are announcing that something is happening here, that we are coming to God right now, we are meeting with God in worship and in praise. And that is sort of different from the Word. The Word comes as a way to instruct us on who God is and how to live. The worship time is for us to celebrate and encounter Him.
IOJ: How have you seen the impact of Instruments of Joy in the countries where you’ve served?
Kurt: Instruments of Joy is a joy to work with. I’ve been to Uganda and Cameroon most recently and we’ve started two schools, one in each place with the goal of starting many more. In Uganda, if you were to take a poll of the people who come to one of our worship seminars, if there’s 100 people there, maybe 10 of then actually have an instrument. So there is such a deep need for instruments, any instrument that can be donated, any monies donated puts instruments in the hands of God’s people and gets them out worshipping in their community. It’s an amazing gift. It’s something that transforms someone life. They can’t believe that they just received an instrument. They can’t believe that we’ve just handed them this precious gift. Most students come to the school and they practice really hard, many hours a week, and they are improving but if we could get them to take instruments home, they could get their skill-set so much better and the churches could use them to lead worship. There’s no substitute for having your fingers on a guitar for two or three hours after you’ve learned what you’re supposed to do.
IOJ: Why do you believe that music is a universal language?
Kurt: Anyone could appreciate music from any place. I think that it’s the design of God, that music makes us happy, that it moves us emotionally, that it moves us to dance.
IOJ: What is one of the most moving experiences you’ve had as a ‘musicianary’?
Kurt: For me, seeing someone get a guitar, and then have the chance to teach them, like at these schools—I’ve been working with students in Uganda for six months who never played a guitar before, ever, ’cause they didn’t have one. One of the students in Uganda who just joined the class, said “You know I am realizing my dream right now.” And that’s because she learned three new chords. And that was G, C, and D. Those were the first three chords she learned, and she could actually play them.
IOJ: Why is music and giving instruments away important?
Kurt: Just like we need music here to lift our spirits, just like we need music to encourage us, it is God’s gift to us to motivate us, to move us. And it’s a higher level of living. It enables people to see and to dream, it gives them a sense of somewhat like “I’ve arrived and I’ve done something more than just subsist.” It goes back to the bigger picture of the beauty of the nations and different styles of music they use to represent who they are, and what that should do for us as people is to say “Wow, if your music is that beautiful, I should take a second look at your hearts and your culture. These people are really special behind the music, I want to get to know them.”
I would not only encourage it, but I would plead with people to give instruments because I see the need for them. If someone came and donated a 1,000 today, 8 instruments could be bought. The school where I teach, we have 25 students come on 1 day, and 6 guitars. And that is happening all over the world. If you want to put instruments in people’s hands, and really bless their lives on several levels, I think you spending your money and donating an instrument to really make an impact in someone’s life is a good use of your money. So I would plead with you. There are people waiting, praying, longing to have an instrument, and they just need you to do it.