Started in 1993 from a small group of college students leading worships in churches in the Los Angeles area, the Stream of Praise (SOP) Music Ministries has been greatly blessed by the Lord and has developed into the world’s leading international Christian music ministry especially set up for Chinese people. Nowadays, the SOP worship songs are being sung in Chinese churches all around the world, even in Mainland China.
Even though the name of SOP Music Ministries is spreading among the Chinese worldwide, it has been trying its best to stay low and humble to serve the Chinese churches in order to preserve its original vision and the first heart.
Gospel Herald has met with the founder of SOP Music Ministries- Rev. Sandy Yu- on the recent international conference. The humble ministry leader has shared with us her vision for Chinese worships.
Y: Rev. Sandy Yu
R: The Stream of Praise (SOP) has become a very successful international Chinese music ministry. It has started in 1993 in Los Angeles with a couple of young people leading worships in churches. What is the original vision of the SOP? And how does it want to contribute to the world’s Chinese mission?
Y: The original vision was received from 1992. When I was in the college, the Lord said that the Chinese people need worship. There was not that much worship going on in Chinese churches yet. At that time, God said go to bring worship to Chinese churches. I said to God "whatever I have, whatever I can do, I was a piano performance major, I am willing to give it to you." So I started to bring people together from different churches. God gave me this picture of a team going to different churches to lead worships and at that time, we didn’t know that we would travel around the world. But at that time we have this vision of reviving the Chinese churches through worships. This was the vision that we received in 1992.
We really don’t know how it will change the world because we have a big God. So the way is to stay low, to stay humble, and say "God, if you tell us to go this way, we go." We don’t have our own agenda. We don’t have "stars" in this ministry because this is all team work. I think to create a team work model with the Chinese church is very important. A lot of Chinese people need independence. So that’s why I believe that if we have one person, you have a big God, you can do a lot. And if you have a group of people who have unity and believe in this God, I think you can do great things.
R: In America, there are more and more second generation Chinese. They don’t speak or use Chinese very well. And there are rising need to revive this generation and minister them in the Chinese churches. How does the SOP meet this challenge?
Y: God called us to serve the Chinese. And our main goal is Chinese. But we know that in many countries, like Singapore, Hong Kong, U.S., South America, they use bilingual language. We see the need and so we translated about 80 percent of SOP songs into Singaporean English. It’s not just literal translation, but you can actually sing it. We have asked English writers- not Chinese writers- to translate songs. We hope to help these second generations because the melody is different, it’s different in English worship songs. The melody is in their root, when they hear the melody, they can have some feeling on it. But again, right now, we have not called to receive the vision to serve the English-speaking group, so this is so far we are doing right now.
R: Have you thought of developing the non-Chinese speaking market? And which language are you going to start with?
Y: Yes. Now we have two or three songs in Japanese.
R: How does SOP partner with other ministries to spread the gospel?
Y: We don’t partner that much but we are all friends. We meet and we come to meet each other. We talk and we have that kind of relationships, especially the ones in Los Angeles. Serving the churches is our primary goal. We are not to replace church, but we are here to help the church. All these classes here are to help the church. We want to show the church how to do this. Because the church wants to do this, but they have to find the teachers, so this is what we try to do for the churches. We do for the churches and we like to work with churches.
R: How do you think about the mission in Mainland China? Chinese Christians all around the world out of Mainland China can worship God freely, but for those in Mainland China, they don’t have religious freedom and they are not free to worship God, the door hasn’t been opened yet. How do you think about the mission in China? What we can do for them? Is SOP selling their CDs in Mainland China?
Y: So far, SOP is not there yet. When God tells to go we will go.
R: What is the plan of SOP Music Ministries in 2006?
Y: For 2006, we are, besides the tours which we lead worships in churches and big venues, we are developing on video, because we felt that is a very important step. And because we purchased our first ministry building, this is a big step for us. We are still asking God to help us pay it off. For us – the young people – we have to fund-raise for a building it is not easy. But all our members, they are very young professionals, they just started work, but what I felt is that they gave a lot. And even I was surprised. They are willing to sacrifice a lot to see this ministry center built. We want to finish this ministry center and we want to build a base upon it. And we have also a studio and filming, but simple ones, not professional big ones, we cannot afford that. But we also want to use those to help churches.
R: I heard that SOP is going to hold tour in some countries that you have never been to before, such as Indonesia and France. Why SOP would like to go there?
Y: (Actually, England also.) Because there is a need. In Indonesia, actually there are a lot of Chinese. We wanted to go to Indonesia last year. When we decided to go there, there was bomb, so we were a little hesitant. And in Europe, there are also a lot of Chinese churches.
R: What is your expectation for these tours in Europe?
Y: It is going to be in next September. We are at the beginning of preparations, but we will bring a smaller team. Unlike huge event and bringing a large ministry team, it will be five to ten people. We are going to New Zealand in March. This is the second time, 2001 was the first time.
Rev. Sandy Yu is the founder, president and executive producer of Stream of Praise Music Ministries. She holds a Bachelor of Art degree in piano performance from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and a Master of Music degree in piano performance from University of Southern California. With her strong background in classical music and extensive research in contemporary music, her music integrates the sensitivity and energy of the two styles. God has especially anointed her to pastor worship teams and the next generation of leaders.