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7/17/97 She finds joys, challenges in music group’s ‘siblings’

ARNOLD, Mo. (BP)–As an only child, Brittany McFarland for most of her 22 years never experienced the joys, the blessings and the other stuff that comes with having brothers and/or sisters.
Apparently, God did not want her to miss out on the experience entirely. At the first of the year, Brittany joined MissionsUSA Live — a six-member performing group sponsored by the North American Mission Board.
When they are not on the road, which is rarely, since they average six performances a week, the three young women and three young men who make up MissionsUSA Live share a house provided by North River Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga. “It’s like a family,” said McFarland. “We fight like brothers and sisters. We cry like brothers and sisters.”
And they travel like salesmen, in a conversion van that pulls a 12-foot trailer. So far in 1997, the group has performed in Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Kentucky. Between now and the end of summer, they will add Arizona, California and New Mexico to the list.
“I seem to be the only person on the team who ever gets homesick,” Brittany said. She misses her family and her church, First Baptist of Arnold, Mo., and her college family at Hannibal-LaGrange College in Missouri. She will return to HLG this fall for her senior year. A communications and theater major, she aspires to teach college communications.
McFarland is a member of HLG’s choral performance group, Praise Song. At the urging of Kimberly Weast, director of the college’s communications department, Brittany applied to join MissionsUSA Live. Based on a video audition and a telephone interview, she was offered a spot. On Jan. 2, she flew to Atlanta. “I’ve been traveling ever since.”
Long trips in the van sometimes cause quarrels among the half-dozen young people, she reported.
“On the road we eat a lot of Cracker Barrel and McDonald’s and Chic-fil-A,” she said. The problem is, only about two of the six like any one of those restaurants.
A lesson the group has learned, she said, is how to live together without finding fault with one another on purpose. “We live by the verse, ‘Do not let the sun go down while you’re angry.'”
MissionsUSA Live leader Teresa Harrelson appreciates the encouragement Brittany brings to the team. “She’s kind of the mother of the team,” Harrelson said; whether it’s taking her teammates’ trays at a restaurant or getting them little gifts, she tries to see everyone has what they need.
One of the greatest struggles for the six young people, McFarland said, is getting spiritually fed. “We have to really trust God to fill us, so that we can give to someone else.”
She said knowing so many people are praying for her and the team is what allows her to step up and perform no matter how tired or sick she might feel. “God just fills you exactly when you think you have nothing left to give.”
The MissionsUSA Live experience has changed her a lot, Brittany acknowledged. “I have my own faith now — not faith that somebody else has taught me, or my family.
“My joy is more complete — watching what God can do through me when I’m willing to be used.”

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  • Tim Palmer