Milo Student Chaplain Leads Worship With Chris Tomlin

June 29, 2017 | Kathy Hernandez

Contemporary Christian artist and worship leader Chris Tomlin gave a $3,000 Taylor guitar to a Milo Academy student during a recent concert in Eugene, Ore.

About 40 Milo Adventist Academy students and staff from Days Creek, Ore., attended Tomlin’s Worship Night in America tour.

At a pause between songs, Tomlin asked, “How many came with their youth group tonight?” The Milo students stood up and started cheering. Tomlin’s eyes were immediately drawn to the group. “Are any of you worship leaders?” Everybody pointed to junior Justin Corral, one of Milo’s student chaplains. Tomlin invited Corral on stage.

It was a long walk from the second level where the Milo group sat, and somewhat overwhelming, with everyone shouting words of encouragement, but Corral says, “Suddenly I had this joy in me, and I raced across the stage and jumped up beside him. He handed me the guitar he was using and grabbed another one. I knew I would mess up if I was nervous, so I was just going to give it all to God.”

Together they led thousands of people in worship with the song “10,000 Reasons.” Toward the end of the song, Tomlin pulled Corral over to the microphone and stepped back, allowing Corral to lead the crowd in the last chorus. Tomlin gave him a high-five when they finished.

“I love that you could be anywhere on a Saturday night, but you’re here worshipping God,” Tomlin said to Corral. “I just want to encourage you, keep going, you lead with your group, and that’s just so beautiful, man. … When I was 18, I was leading my youth group just like you. The speaker for the weekend said to me, ‘Chris, I’m praying for you this week. …You have no idea how God is going to use you in the world with your music.’”

“I want to say the same to you,” Tomlin continued. “I just love your heart. I can tell you love the Lord, and I just want to encourage you. You never know what God’s going to do with you. And just as a way of saying thank you, man, I want you to have that guitar.” Tomlin pointed to the Taylor guitar Corral was still holding. The crowd erupted with applause, and Corral was stunned as he tried to wrap his mind around Tomlin’s words.

Chad Reisig, Milo pastor, was waiting for Corral when he came down from the stage. “I thought Pastor Chad only saw me as a secondary chaplain,” Corral says. “The other student chaplains have their talents and ministries, and I was just the one that talked with people and led worship once a month. I felt like I was not impacting the school in any way. When Pastor Chad told me that he was proud of me, I realized I was missing the point, that God has given me different talents than He has given the others.”

As Corral and his friends were exiting the arena, people shouted congratulations and encouragement. A 9-year-old boy, Keeghan, congratulated him. Upon learning that Keeghan was taking guitar lessons, Corral knelt down and opened the guitar case. The young man’s eyes grew wide as Corral handed him the Taylor guitar that Chris Tomlin had just played. Corral showed the boy how to play a few chords. Meanwhile, Keeghan’s mother, Kristine, began chatting with other members of the Milo group, who invited the boy and mother to visit Milo the following weekend when Corral would be leading worship. The three prayed together before saying goodbye for the evening.

The next weekend at Milo was Family Weekend. Corral’s family, who live in Mexico, could not attend, but Keeghan and Kristine drove almost three hours to be there. Corral spent the day with them on Sabbath. They sat on the front row during the worship service, ate in the cafeteria, and even stayed for the drama production that night and the Mother’s Day brunch the next morning. Keeghan told his mom he finally felt like he had an older brother.

Asked what he learned from the whole experience, Corral responded, “When we use God’s talents or gifts, it may not seem that we make an impact, but God works through others with His Holy Spirit when we decide to use His gifts.”

Reisig says, “Justin is just so humble!” Justin mentioned he thought maybe he should donate the guitar to the church or school, but Reisig encouraged him to hold on to it and pray about it. “That guitar allows you to share a testimony about how God reached out to you. It was a God moment. Enjoy the guitar because it will be a memorial of when God anointed you for His ministry. Keep it to use as a testimony about the glory of God.”

For more information about Milo Adventist Academy, email Kathy Hernandez.