Back in April 2015 I was half politely nodding whilst listening to someone explaining, with not too much humility, how they had managed to get a new car and basically telling me how successful they were in their job. Cars and climbing the career ladder? God bless them, but honestly it all sounded rather boring to me. As they walked away, I said to God under my breath with a throwaway comment, ‘I never want to be like that’. At that very moment, God challenged us and asked if we were ‘up for an adventure…’
I had to paint the interior back shed wall brilliant white and get some lights to make it look like a ‘studio space’. Prior to this the shed was used, well, as a shed. During the teaching you could only occasionally see my breath (its cold in January in Wales sat in a small shed in the back yard). I had been teaching bass to Emma from Kampala for a year and he had no idea I was in my shed until Claire walked in with a load of washing to put into the tumble dryer. We laughed about it - and still do. It was rough around the edges, it wasn’t glamorous, but after saying ‘yes’ to God a year earlier, I could either sit around and wait for the purpose built teaching studio with parking and heating, better equipment and the right people to work with and walk alongside with on this journey. Or, I could use what I could bring, which was my time, my bass and willingness to do it. I refer to it as a ‘shed moment’.
You see, a year earlier, within a week after saying ‘yes’ to God’s question I met a friend who started work for Watoto church Kampala. Three months on from that, I jumped on a plane and headed out to Kampala to meet up with my now close friend, James Skinner. Watoto church is simply incredible. They have multiple celebration points, over 30,000 attendees each week, Three children villages with over 3,000 children, they support over 10,000 schoolgirls with sanitary products, have a campus in South Sudan, run neighbourhood mums programmes, run education programmes and are raising a generation of leaders for the nation and for the nations. I was blown away with the sheer scale of how this church loved and served others – its amazing. I was asked, as a musician, if there was anything I could do to contribute towards the amazing work at their Watoto Worship Academy they ran out on the villages. I was, at that point, and still do, tour as a bass player, so I said I could teach some bass online.
Creative Lab Academy
Fast forward five years, I have long left my role as an Academic Manager at a music department in a university in Wales. I now run the Creative Lab Academy from a real teaching studio space in Central Cardiff full-time (with parking, heating all the right equipment and brilliant white walls). We engage with 23 incredible worship and industry practitioners from the UK and USA who walk alongside, pray and invest into this journey. We all teach a wide range of creative and technical arts curriculum in Bass, Drums, Keys, Leadership, Band Dynamics, Improvisation, Guitar, Vocals, Theory, Film, Storytelling, Dance, Songwriting, Photography, Art, Scriptwriting, Worship Leading, Discipleship, Teacher Training, Mainstage, Logic, Ableton and Live Sound. We have literally taught hundreds of students in East Africa online and in person. In addition to this, over the last six months Creative Lab have raised tutors, written curriculum and assessments for the Watoto Worship Academy. From this Watoto Worship Academy have started the first Creative Arts course in all of East Africa. The course has just enrolled 24 students, employs 12 super talented staff in Kampala and are rolling out to four other campuses in the new year.
You can find out more about the Creative Lab Academy here.
So what’s changed since we said ‘yes’? I still serve at local churches here in the UK. I still have the privilege of recording and playing worship music. I also still get to work in the music industry touring across Europe playing at major festivals, stadiums and arenas playing with some fantastic bandmates. The old shed is still there but is no longer used for teaching. When we said ‘yes’ to God we moved from the old into something new, spiritually, practically and literally.
Listen to His voice and when He calls you, just simply say ‘yes’ and run with it – just use what you have at that moment to start - Create yourself a ‘Shed Moment’. It doesn’t matter how it looks or how modest it seems. When you take this step, the adventure has already begun and over time and through God’s grace and love, you step away from being the person you ‘think’ you are (with all the doubts and limitations you put upon yourself) and you step into the adventure of being who God actually ‘called’ you to be.