A number of God-ordained encounters has led Brian Doerksen to head up Prairie Bible School’s new Music and Worship Arts program. Photo Credit: Mason Unrau/Prairie.

Take the risk and join a creative community

“Coming to Prairie was a risk God was leading me to take,” says Brian Doerksen.

“You’re going where?” “To do what?” Those were the frequent responses when singer/songwriter Brian Doerksen announced to friends and family that he would be leading Prairie’s new Music and Worship Arts program.

“If you had told me in the summer of 2013 that I’d be in Three Hills and on the faculty at the college,” he says, “I probably would have reacted the same way—maybe even laughed in your face.” But a number of seemingly disconnected events eventually led him and his wife Joyce to set up a second home on the Alberta prairies.

“On June 30 I read my letter of resignation to the church in BC that I had helped to plant seven years earlier,” he recalls. “Then on July 1 a phone call came from the school. I was definitely surprised and agreed to meet with them, but more as a courtesy than anything else.”

Next came a chance encounter just a few weeks later as Brian was about to step onstage at a festival in England: “A complete stranger came up to me and asked if I knew of a Prairie Bible School in Three Hills. He just wanted me to know that it was an amazing school. I was dumbfounded. His comments cemented in my mind that coming to Prairie was a risk God was leading me to take.”

“Getting a new college program in motion has required more effort than I initially expected,” Brian admits. “But after completing the first semester, I realize there is nothing else I would rather be doing. The students’ passion for music and the arts is evident, but there is also a growing hunger for the Scriptures and deep thoughts of God that are spilling over into new songs of worship.”

Brian is still touring, writing and recording. “Being around college kids helps me to keep going,” he says with a chuckle. In November the Gospel Music Association of Canada (GMAC) recognized him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. “At first I thought: ‘Do they think I’m done?’ I mean, don’t they usually present these things posthumously, or worse, to those whose best days are behind them?” he says.

Far from being done, Brian is still creating new songs with his band The SHIYR Poets. Their debut album Songs for the Journey, Volume One sets the ancient Psalms to new music and also won an award for Inspirational Album of the Year.

Thinking back to 2013, Brian is thankful that as one chapter of his life came to an end, God opened up not one, but two doors. “What could have been a depressing time has turned into some of the most fun and satisfying work of my career—writing new music and mentoring the next generation. We all long to live a life of meaning. As artists we have the opportunity to focus our creativity, worship and expressions of the heart so that our lives can take on greater purpose in the Kingdom of God.”

When Brian meets young musicians he reminds them that they won’t discover meaning or hone their creative talents by accident, but rather by recognizing where God is leading, putting themselves in motion and taking risks.

“Don’t stay on your own strumming your guitar and singing songs in your bedroom,” he encourages. “Become part of a creative community. If your heart is stirring, I would invite you to come and join us. There’s some seriously good songwriting and musicianship going on and the setting of the beautiful open prairie will help fire up your imagination.”

Prairie’s Music and Worship Arts program launched this past September with 12 students in a song-writing track. Twenty-four openings are available for the fall of 2015, thanks to a new Worship Leader and Musician track. Learn more and apply online here.

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