By Ronda Businda
"On a cool, breezy evening of April 4, 2014, Adonai Intl, Inc. held their 2nd annual benefit, “An Evening of Art and Worship” at the historic Capitol Theatre in Lebanon, Tennessee. From beginning to end, it was a collage of excellent planning, exquisite set up, presentations of different art forms that were breath taking, original and played out with beauty and grace, sometimes sprinkled with laughter. Never at any moment during the evening did anyone miss the intention of the heart of Adonai’s art.
Two years ago, I had invested a considerable amount of time searching out dance facilities with a specific vision and desire my husband and I had for our daughter, who was at the time, five years old. That search became disheartening due to the unique circumstances that our daughter lives with a hearing loss; so finding a performing arts facility or someone who could just understand that was a feat in of itself. I confess that as I sat at the computer one last time, I uttered a prayer (as I rolled my eyes exasperated) as I thought of something unique to key into the great Google search engine – I kid you not – an online story referencing Serenity Vanderschoot, founder of Adonai Intl. came up! God spoke!
The information, vision and mission of Adonai as carried out by the board of directors was beyond the answer I was looking for; it would become a journey for my daughter that would deeply affect her relationship with God while wading into the heart of both my husband and I. When I realized that Serenity’s vast background included a Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Culture Studies and that she established a deaf ministry program in the past – I literally sat back in my chair, laughed, threw up my hands and said, “Really God”?!?.....and in my heart I heard Him reply, “.......really”.
Those initial facts compelled me to call Serenity and before long, our daughter’s involvement with Adonai was established. Everything my husband and I were witnessing through her involvement became a welcomed opportunity for us to support and even partner with Adonai. Becoming involved with an organization is something my husband Robert and I have never done, mainly because we’ve never been so moved before. It is now an honor and a privilege to share with you the incredible vision, offerings and creative medium that make Adonai International, Inc. a unique establishment here in Wilson County.
Established as a non-profit organization, Adonai International, Inc. exists to train and inspire children to impact their world for Christ, through the visual and performing arts. In addition to classical training for students, Adonai’s diverse program includes ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, modern dance, music theory, songwriting, vocals, instruments, and mixed media art! Did I mention Rhythm Sticks and private music lessons? In addition to the performing arts program, Adonai also offers a summer program entitled, “Adonai’s Court”. In this setting, students are instructed on various art techniques, equipped to understand their true value while celebrating their heritage as a child of God!
The instructors of Adonai are not only highly skilled in their area of expertise but they carry and model the heart of a servant to lead and develop their student’s talents allowing them to experience intimacy within the art of true worship.
The Board of Directors of Adonai Intl, Inc. are as strong, diverse, creative, compassionate and powerful as the works of art that continue to pour out of this ministry to children. I have had the opportunity to personally meet each one of them and to watch them work together is just as satisfying as experiencing a great symphony when it comes together to produce beautiful music. Supported with a united front, the board members include founder Serenity Vanderschoot, Music Director Lee Aguilera, Treasurer Lisa Baldwin, Director Beth Fox, and Secretary DeAnn Lee. What is most compelling about how the board relates to each other is their individual and collective commitment to the mission of Adonai. Experiencing the fruits of their efforts is truly beholding strong Christian women actually stepping out, empowering and building up one another.
There is no better way to articulate the mission and vision of Adonai than to quote statements from the website directly. Regarding the mission, “Through outreach projects, performances and mission trips, we proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the oppressed and healing for the broken-hearted so that lives can be changed by the presence of God and His great truth”.
What continues to influence and motivate my family and some of Wilson County’s local businesses to support and partner with Adonai is the vision, “Adonai Arts Center will provide Wilson County youth with a creative environment for professional training in dance, music, instruments, painting, drawing, drama and production, for the purpose of glorifying God. We hope to eventually house a performance stage, dance studios, several music rooms, an art studio for painting and sculpting, as well as a sound studio for recording”. (www.adonaiarts.com/mission-vison/).
The incredible vision, the invaluable experience for our daughter Mary is such an amazing opportunity that exists right here in Lebanon, Tennessee! Since its establishment in 2009, Adonai continues to provide scholarships for students lacking funds, who desire the opportunity to train within the arts and serve. Serving is modeled by ministering outreach programs - not only in the immediate and surrounding communities but in the near future, globally as well. In place of competition performances, Adonai students get to invest their energy and talents into worshipful experiences that communicate the gospel through art. Local establishments who have been served by Adonai students include, The Brooks House Shelter, McKendree Village, Providence Place, and outreach at Charlie Daniels Park.
So how do you communicate everything that Adonai has to offer to Wilson County in a way that the public can truly experience? With a beautiful production of the annual benefit that was hosted at the historic Capitol Theater, detailed in excellence! Some highlights; whether through sponsorship or individual tickets purchased, guests of Adonai were treated to a savory dinner at the Capitol Theater provided by local caterer, Wildberry. Whether meeting, greeting, consuming great food or enjoying a latte from the coffee bar, guests were able to peruse items on display and bid on silent auction items. Up for bid included donations from Vince Gill & Amy Grant, Alan Jackson, International artist Matt Lamb, high-end custom furniture designer Rick Dohler of Dohler Designs, health and beauty products, books and CDs – some autographed and more from local businesses in Lebanon! The Silent Auction items were not only a great display of local support but in the end, proved to be some hot items that were quickly scooped up!
The program could not have flowed as elegantly and seamlessly without the presence of emcee, Beth Fox. As the performances shined, the nuance of the night was enhanced by the beautiful selections of worship
music; whether performed live by Adonai students or established songs that were carefully selected to convey the intimacy of worship, I witnessed an audience that became moved and engaged. The experience was truly an evening of art and worship graciously and excellently presented by Adonai International, Inc.
The growth of Adonai is primarily due to powerful word of mouth testimonies and personal experiences which have led many students, parents, artists, teachers and local support to Adonai. Though the current facility is not big enough to house every student and keep every element of Adonai’s programs together, the end goal is becoming a firm reality as manifested by the generous donations and partnerships from the good citizens in and around Wilson County. While this year’s benefit is over and the next one is already being planned, there are still great opportunities to invest in Adonai’s mission, vision and their students! Please consider that your tax-deductible donation is more of a precious investment in the children of Wilson County. Children who are gifted, who may desire to express their love for God through the arts, children who may have a hearing loss, or who may not otherwise be able to participate due to lack of funds - are Wilson County’s future. I invite you to join us by visiting the website, www.adonaiarts.com. There, you can explore all that Adonai offers to the community and if you’re led to make a donation, the website makes it easy for you to do so. We have a great opportunity right before us, to share the love of our heavenly Father with children near and far!