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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Pedro Eustache

Instruments of Grace

During an interview on Larry King Live, internationally recognized musician Yanni described Pedro Eustache as “the best flautist in the whole world.” But the flute is only one among an array of wind instruments Eustache plays, and his excellence as a musician is built on a faith not always recognized by the world-class entertainment figures he has supported. Eustache recently spoke with Scott Harrup, managing editor, about his life as a musician and committed follower of Christ — two identities he never separates.

evangel: When did you discover God had given you a gift for music?
From my childhood I experienced music both at home and at church. My parents are Haitian, but we lived in Caracas, Venezuela. I experienced multiple musical expressions in Venezuela. I think particularly of the hymns at church, musical pieces that are like lost treasures for many today who don’t even know about hymns. Sometimes I feel like my current recording of hymns is overdue in my musical life, but God is in control of the times and order of our lives.

evangel: You are in demand by secular artists as well as Christian groups. How have both types of opportunities allowed you to express your faith?
They go beyond opportunities; I see both as callings. All that I do is aimed at glorifying the Almighty Creator of the universe. Like the great Johann Sebastian Bach said, music exists for the double purpose of glorifying God and elevating the human soul. My identity is affirmed in Christ. Whether it appears I am playing for Yanni or for a church convention, the reality is I am not playing for either. I play for the Lord. The experience of the Lord for me is not a cultural manifestation; it is a life-changing reality.

I have played on numerous film soundtracks. The Passion of the Christ is perhaps the one I am best known for. During a recent recording session, I was playing a piccolo with several others, and it felt like fireworks coming through my fingers. At the end, there was a burst of applause. But they didn’t realize it was because the Holy Spirit showed up that we were able to kill that piece. The anointing was so heavy. A player sitting near me said, “You were amazing.” I told her, “That’s the Lord.” And she said, “I don’t think the Lord has anything to do with it.” I said, “Are you kidding? He has everything to do with it.”

evangel: As we look ahead to Easter, what does that celebration mean to you?
Easter is life, and it is life’s purpose. To have the validation for our existence through the resurrection of our Lord says it all. The apostle Paul was very direct when he said if there is no Resurrection, our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:13-15). Christ is the only Person in history who prophesied He would rise on the third day and did. It’s a historical fact; it’s not an opinion or fad.

evangel: Do you have a sense of biblical heritage when you play the ancient instruments in your collection?
Absolutely. The funny thing is, I’m seen as a player of exotic instruments, and yet those instruments have been with us the longest. A friend from Iran made a comment, “Pedro, how curious is it that people consider the instruments you play exotic when it is really closer to what Jesus heard than probably anything we play now.” There are many instruments that have not changed in thousands of years. For example, I play the kawala, a shepherd’s oblique flute from the Middle East that is quite possibly an instrument David played.

I do feel a direct connection with the biblical era, and that was one reason I was invited to lead in the soundtrack for The Passion of the Christ. They needed to evoke sonorities that would be closer to what the Lord heard. I also had the privilege of playing the shofar for the Department of Tourism of Israel inviting Christians and pastors to visit the Holy Land. What could be closer to what the Lord heard than a ram’s horn?

evangel: As an artist on wind instruments, you’re breathing life into otherwise dead pieces of wood and metal. Do you see a parallel in how God breathes life into us?
EUSTACHE: You could not say it better. The incredibly powerful truth in that same line of thought is in how those instruments are made. I spend countless hours shaping, sanding, grinding, burning and piercing the wood that becomes my instruments. That’s a direct parallel with what God does with us. I imagine that piece of bamboo in my hands that I’m burning or drilling asking, “Why are you piercing me?” And we say similar things to God.

But those instruments are very special to me and are the result of many years of acoustic research. When I finally develop a prototype that works, it is more precious than gold. The same thing happens with God and us. Each of my instruments is absolutely unique, precious and irreplaceable. I’ll miss a flight before I’ll check one of my instruments through with my baggage. Similary, in the eyes of God, each one of us is unique, precious and irreplaceable. After we have suffered those hard things we experience, we can produce a sound for Him in His hands — like my instruments in mine — that no one else in the universe can produce.

evangel: Have you experienced God’s faithfulness through the kinds of hardship you describe?
Twenty-two years ago, my wife, Sara, and I lost our daughter, Ginette Esther, to brain cancer. She was 3 years and 9 months old, and she literally died in our arms. She went to Jesus as we held her. It was a very traumatic experience that confirmed the amazing power of the grace of God. God is the ultimate alchemist. He can completely turn around what a fallen creation and the enemy of our souls intended for destruction. It is absolutely extraordinary.

evangel: On your website you write, “For me performing is a sacred act: regardless of the situation, place or time, when people see me play they are simply witnessing an act of worship, submission and dependency.” How can all followers of Christ use that principle in every area of life?
I do not differentiate between my work and my life. Every time I pick up an instrument, whatever I play I dedicate to my Lord. In my case, it’s wind instruments. In the case of someone sweeping a street, it’s a broom. That is a calling. Pick up the broom and glorify Jesus by making the cleanest street you can ever make. That will give you your turf of action through which you can affect other people traveling that street. Whether it’s cleaning a street, or flipping burgers at a fast-food restaurant, or whatever, that is a sacred, God-given, appointed and affirmed territory.

It is a beautiful duty, a wonderful responsibility and a privilege to be good stewards. Whatever you are doing must be done with all your might and with excellence unto the Lord. As the Lord himself told us in the Parable of the Talents, one day we will stand before God and give an account of all that we did with all that He gave us.


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