Here Am I

It was 1993, the second year of what would become known as “E-TEAM”. The program was started by veteran pioneer missionary, Ken Eagleton, Sr. in 1992. His vision and his burden were for high school students to have hands-on missions experience. Originally called TEAM (Teens Equipped and Active in Missions), it was later renamed E-TEAM in honor of Bro. Eagleton.

So when Panama hosted a team in 1993, just the second year of the program’s existence, the sixteen-member team, plus team leaders Terry & Jamie Eagleton arrived in June. To that group were added our sons Michael and Phillip and a friend, Ben Daniels, Jonathan Bunch, and for extra measure, the Bunch and Lytle families. (We were an entourage of around 30 people. In subsequent years, organizers realized that was just too many, and limited the teams to around 10, plus the 2 leaders.)

Prior to arriving in Panama City, the students had a week of training, including Bible study, a study of missions, team building, cross-cultural and basic language study, and music, drama, or manual labor, depending on what their ministry was going to be. Our team was going to sing, give testimonies, and work in churches or missions while in Panama.

So during the training week in Nashville, the Panama team was taught several songs by Jonathan Snow. It was a good music program with a repertoire of several Christian songs, some well-known, others new. One song, “Here Am I,” by Marty Funderburk and Jonathan Jones, is the one that ministered to my heart and was usually the one the kids sang to end the program.

Here Am I

Verse 1:
This world has yet to see
What God can do through a man
Who is totally surrendered
And committed to His plan
For there would be no limit
To the work that God could do
If He had a faithful servant
He could trust His purpose to

Verse 2:
There are many who would follow
For the glory of the call
And give their days for human praise
While never giving all
But the work of God is only done
By a selfless few
Whose only goal is giving God
The glory He is due

Chorus:
Here am I, Lord
Here am I
I will serve You
If I live, or if I die
I cannot wait
And watch the world go by
Father, use me
Here am I

Verse 3:
Still His eyes run to and fro
All across the land
In every nation
Every town
In search of such a man
Not for the strong and mighty
Or the wise in worldly ways
But a simple soldier of the cross
Who will stand and humbly say

Words & Music by Marty Funderburk and Jonathan A. Jones
©1989 Magnolia Hill Music/ASCAP

I’ll never forget the final service on a Sunday morning at the Primera Iglesia Bautista Libre in Panama City, as the program came to an end. The teens spontaneously took each other’s hand as they sang “Here am I, Lord, here am I, I will serve you if I live or if I die.” I wept as I heard that lyric, praying that would be true of each one of them, and especially of my two sons upon the stage.

“Here Am I” comes from Isaiah 6, where, in the year that King Uzziah died, the prophet has a vision of God in His holiness. First, he sees the Lord, high and lifted up. Second, he sees himself, undone, unclean in the presence of such awesome perfection, and God graciously cleanses him. Third, he sees the world in need of God’s message. In answer to the question the Lord asked “whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” he responds “here am I, send me.”

I wonder: was the response a croak, a whisper because Isaiah is so overcome by what he has just seen and experienced? Or is it the exultant shout of a man pumped, thrilled to the core of his being, and totally willing to be God’s instrument? Either way, his response is what ours should be: “Here I am, Lord, I’m yours and I’m available”.

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Steve Lytle

Steve and his wife Judy have spent the majority of their ministry in Panama with Free Will Baptist International Missions. They recently retired and are hard at work serving the Lord locally. Steve is serving the elder generation of Cofer's Chapel mainly, but is also involved in visiting sick, hospitalized, and shut-ins of any generation at our church. Steve is also heavily involved in the church's Hispanic ministry as teacher and translator.

2 thoughts on “Here Am I

  • January 9, 2020 at 8:09 pm
    Permalink

    This was my favorite song from the program. Thanks for the good memories and the challenge.

    Reply
  • January 15, 2020 at 11:50 am
    Permalink

    Very interesting and well-written devotion, Mr. Lytle.

    Reply

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