In 2017, Dr. Keith Timms ’84, associate professor of music at Erskine, led a group of student musicians on a mission trip to Lithuania. The trip became a catalyst for spiritual growth among both Lithuanians and Erskine students. Now, Timms plans to return to Lithuania in April 2020 with 14 of Erskine’s Choraleers.
In partnership with World Witness missionaries Frank and Emily Van Dalen, Timms and his students will sing in local churches and host a music camp for college-aged Lithuanians. Timms believes that music can be an effective medium for sharing the gospel and hopes the trip will have an impact on the young Lithuanians—mostly unchurched—who attend the camp or concerts.
“Often, people who would not be eager to listen to a spoken message are open to listening to a musical performance,” he says. “On many occasions, we are approached by someone after a performance who shares how a particular song…ministered to them in their specific time of need.”
In preparation for the trip, Timms is teaching a spring semester class called “Musical Missions in Lithuania.” In the class, students will learn about Lithuania’s culture, history, and music. The Van Dalens, who will be in the United States during January and February, will visit Timms’s class and lead a session discussing which evangelism techniques are most effective within Lithuanian culture.
For Timms, the Erskine experience has come full circle. When he was an Erskine student, he received spiritual encouragement from faculty, and now he passes on this encouragement to his own students.
“I received much more than a degree in Music Education during my time at Erskine,” he says. “I was blessed to study with professors who not only cared for my educational and musical development, but also cared for my personal and spiritual development. …I always strive to teach with the passion, dedication, and love for students that my Erskine professors provided to me.”
Timms joined the Erskine faculty in 2014 after a 30-year career as a high school choral director, bringing with him the expertise needed to write the curriculum for Erskine’s revitalized music education program. He is married to Amy Rankin Timms ’85, who serves Erskine as an adjunct instructor in mathematics. Their children are Hannah Timms ’14, an adjunct instructor in music, and Harrison Timms ’17, an IT specialist in Erskine’s Information Technology department.
“I was eager to give back to the school that helped prepare me for my career, and I wanted others to have the same opportunity,” he says.
Now, as Timms and his students prepare for their adventure in Lithuania, they are also working to raise the funds needed for the trip. Having witnessed the spiritual transformation initiated three years ago, Timms believes the trip in April is worth their careful preparation.
“If we can once again be a part of this type of spiritual awakening, our time in Lithuania will indeed be worth all the effort and time we are dedicating to this project,” he says.
If you would like to support the Choraleers in their fund-raising efforts, please click here. This link will take you to Erskine’s Give Campus page where you can select “other” and specify the Choraleers as the recipient. The Choraleers thank you in advance for your generosity.