Northwestern junior, Andrew Wipf, a management information systems major (MIS) spent his summer overseas, touring with Steiger International “No Longer Music” (NLM) tour through Europe and the Middle East. Steiger's NLM ministry was founded in Amsterdam in 1987 in response to the lost youth of the world. The NLM “show” is a dramatic depiction of the story of Jesus using a creative blend of live modern music, stage drama and other special effects (i.e. video projections and fire) to present a relevant, yet clear gospel message.
Andrew talks about his time with NLM, how his work at Northwestern prepped him to be a part of the tour and how the experience changed his life.
Northwestern: Tell us about your summer working with NLM.
Andrew: Last March I heard that NLM needed someone to play an "embedded journalist" role to make videos of the tour during tour to send back to the states. Because I majored in MIS (Management Information Systems), I told them I would be a bit rusty but would gladly do it.
They actually found a different senior level student for the position so I got switched over to lights because of my experience working in Northwestern’s Maranatha Hall.
Northwestern: What were your primary responsibilities on the tour?
Andrew: It was my job to make sure that at least some of the equipment we requested made it to the venue and that it would be adequate for the show's needs. Typically working through a translator, I would learn how to run the light board (I had to learn a new board for every one of our 37 concerts with the exception of one venue!).
Northwestern: What did you learn? What did God teach you and your team?
Andrew: God taught me a lot about the world. I saw a Polish youth, drunk and high on hallucinogens, suddenly become completely coherent when talking about the love of Jesus with our team leader. I watched as "fundamentalist Muslim" teens in Iraq cheered when Jesus was resurrected in our drama.
Northwestern: What has been most surprising about your time there?
Andrew: I was surprised at how much my perspective has changed. Before going on the tour I was very focused on my own world—my suburban American way of life—and God totally rocked my world.
Northwestern: Were there any challenges or struggles during the tour?
Andrew: The biggest struggle was really the spiritual oppression we found in the Middle East. Five times of day the Islamic Call to Prayer was broadcast from loudspeakers on the tops of mosques. The entire time, especially in Iraq, I felt like our little team was in this bubble of God’s protection, keeping us safe from threats that might have popped up.
When arriving back in Germany from Bulgaria, it was like a fog had lifted. I have never experienced anything like it before. Suddenly all spiritual oppression disappeared and we could relax after being on guard for an entire month.
Northwestern: How has this experience contributed to your future/life after college?
Andrew: My understanding of other cultures was greatly increased and will surely benefit me in future business endeavors.
A life-changing moment was when I was setting up lights for a radical Christian band in Diyarbakir, Turkey with Turkish fighter jets doing a demonstration of power to the Kurds while the call to prayer was being broadcasted.
It was that moment that God drove home the point that my safe, suburban world is not the norm on this planet. I realized just how many people don’t know the love of Jesus, and I was convicted to start reaching people for Jesus.