In a country that declares itself to be predominantly Roman Catholic, with a culture of Islam in the south, and a smattering of Pentecostal-related denominations (known as "born again" faiths), the Philippines is a very religous, very devout place. You cannot go anywhere without seeing a "John 3:16" on a license plate, or a "Jesus Cares for You" on a sticker somewhere. Everyone believes in God, and everyone knows about Jesus. Even the hotel I first sacked out at after my 4:30am arrival in Manila had a Bible waiting for me, a slip of paper for prayer requests that hotel staff could pray for, and Stephen Curtis Chapman playing in the cafeteria.
Should it have surprised me to hear Christian music playing in one of the bars we were in?
I guess not. But it seemed so… out of place.
When I recognized Casting Crowns' "I am a flower quickly fading… here today and gone tomorrow… a wave tossed in the ocean… a vapor in the wind… Still You hear me when I'm calling… You catch me when I'm falling… and You told me who I am… I am Yours…" — I was mystified. It was as if the very establishment was trying to redeem itself in the eyes of God.
If we play this song, then the things that happen here won't be so bad.
It's not unheard of. Anyone who's into Bluetree knows precisely where the beloved "God if This City" originated (a brothel called "Climax" in Bangkok, Thailand). Spirit enters where He will, and will He does. Perhaps the owners or the girls or someone thought that by playing Christian music, it would somehow make it all 'better'. Yet we know music can't save people — not by itself anyway.
But God can plant seeds.
I wonder if Casting Crowns knows its worship music is being blared in clubs like "Lips" or "The Office" or "Alley Cats" or "The Wet Spot"?
I wonder if it's not the better place for it to be shared?