First of all I would like to thank you for your support of the
ministry of The Moodys. It is only through the continued prayers
and giving of people like you that this ministry can continue to
go forward with the words and songs of our Lord.
Over the years we have had the opportunity to sit and visit with many pastors and other singing groups on the road. For some reason the conversation always seems to come around to different experiences that we have had on the road. While we have been blessed to see the hand of God at work in countless lives we have also been able to laugh at his sense of humor. In sharing some of the more humorous stories that we have lived through it has been suggested by many that we write them down and share them. This small book is an attempt to do just that. Many of these stories are us laughing at ourselves. Some are us laughing at others. But it is all in good fun.
Individual names of people and churches have been left out to insure anonymity. The point is to show that Christians can be funny too. Even when we don't mean to be.
A Very Young Minister
Chicken or Feathers
Daylight Losing Time
John The Rocket Scientist
Mr. Bullwinkle The Critic
Mr. Goodwrench Strikes Again
Now That's A Tough Church
OK, But Don't Flush
Stealing The Show
The KB Church
The Worlds Best Booking Agent
Wolf Creek Pass
Pass The Buck
A Trail of Tears
The Turkey of Thanksgiving
A Very Young "Minister"
While ministering one Sunday morning at a church in north Texas our youngest son Thomas who was only four at the time got up and sang "Jesus Loves Me" as he did in most services. This day however he would play a big part in the writing of another name in the Lambs Book Of Life.
During our services in those days we would ask Thomas to come up and sing us a song. The only song that he knew was "Jesus Loves Me". He would walk up on the stage just as proud as could be and stand on his tippy toes to reach the microphone. After managing to grab the microphone he would then start with his own rendition of that age-old song. It was one of the cutest things you could ever see.
A few weeks later we received a letter from the pastor thanking us for coming to his small church and sharing our ministry. There was also a personal note to Thomas from the pastor. It read:
I want to thank you for coming to sing at our church with your family. You did a great job. I also want you to know that my father who is sevent- two years old was in the church that morning visiting me and my family. He had never asked Jesus to come into his heart. But, Thomas, when you sang Jesus Loves Me my father started crying right there in church that morning. He told me how his father used to sing it to him when he was just a little boy your age. Thomas I want to say thank you because when you sang that song my Dad asked Jesus to come into his heart that morning. And now he is a Christian.
Just remember you are never too young to share his love and never too old to accept it!
Chicken or Feathers?
Someone once told me that tragedy plus time equals humor. This next story is a perfect example of that equation.
Several years ago we had been booked into a church in southern New Mexico. In all the years of our ministry the churches in New Mexico had for the most part been good to us financially. That is to say when we left we could usually pay the bills and still have a little left over for the family. It is kind of funny how many people look at what we do from the outside and think that it must be just like being on a permanent vacation, and you get paid for it. I've told many people who have asked me for advice about going into the gospel music ministry that you need to be prepared to live on an income based on love offerings and realize that sometimes there is more love in that plate than offering. That usually is the end of that. Anyway, this church was located in an old school building. When we arrived we learned that the sanctuary of the church was located on the second floor. We unloaded the sound equipment from the bus. The elevator was not working. We were then faced with hauling all of our equipment up the stairs to the second floor. "Well", I thought, "God never said it would be easy". After that task was completed we then set about setting it all up. We then returned to the bus to rest and prepare for the evening service.
As the time for the service approached we left the bus and went into the school building and climbed the stairs to the sanctuary. When the starting time rolled around I looked around and was shocked to count only a hand full of people there. I later learned that the pastor failed to put any publicity out about the concert. All of the posters we had sent were still sitting in his office. I reached down inside and picked my self up and reminded myself of why we were there and to whom we served.
When the pastor introduced us we started the music and hit the stage singing. I was determined to sing my heart out because I knew that the one we sing about was sitting right there in the midst of that hand full of people. We shared the word and sang his praises. We had a wonderful time and after about an hour and a half we closed the service with prayer. After the concert we were in the back of the church attending our product table. As soon as the last couple had left the table the pastors wife came up to me and motioned for me to step to the side with her. As I did she held her hand out fist clinched and upside down as if to give me something. As I stretched out my hand she then opened hers and money began to fall from her hand into mine. As she did this I looked at my hand and quickly counted out our income for the night. $8.79
She quickly added "I am so sorry for such a low amount, but someone stole the $20 bill from the offering plate. With that she turned and left.
So next time you go to church and a special offering is received for the speaker or group, just remember that for them:
"Sometimes it's chicken and sometimes it's feathers"
In ClosingBy Debbie Moody
We hope that you have enjoyed the stories of our family on the road in gospel music ministry. As you can imagine some of the stories we could only tell because they happened long enough ago the deep embarrassment that they evoke from each family member has faded into humorous memories. After all there is the old saying that tragedy plus time equals humor.
As our life continues there will be other stories to tell. But they haven't been written yet. We will trust God to see us through and keep us smiling.
Crystal is now grown into a beautiful young woman and is making her own way in life after "retiring" from the road. She is living in San Antonio, TX, working as an Apartment complex manager and doing very well.
Robert has now entered into the US Air Force and is working toward finishing college.
Bethany as you know is a lovely young lady and growing into her own as Dad's singing partner and Mom's cohort. She had now finished Highschool and travels full-time in the ministry..
Thomas is the youngest of the crew but is in every way a young man. He is an excellent student. He loves school, band and his family (especially his big brother). He also loves the road. After all he learned to walk on the bus going down the road.
John of course is the man that keeps us all focused and driven (literally, he does all of the bus driving). He has had a hard time with kids growing up, especially that first one. I think that he thought they would stay little forever.
And as for me, I am Debbie, mom and all that entails. Though not a singer, I help with the booking and promoting of this ministry and family. Of course I am very proud of this whole crew and that they all love the Lord.
With the family growing up, it was time for us to let everyone know how our hearts have been touched by all of you. From home cooked meals when we were away from home, to celebrating our birthdays all over the country with God's people. We have all been blessed to see the Lord work miracles in our lives and in the lives of those we have met. None of this would have been possible without God's blessings being bestowed upon us through His people. Keep our family in your prayers as we remember you all in our prayers.
God's blessings on all of you and we'll see you on the road!
Daylight Losing Time
Three things that I have always tried to maintain in our ministry are:
1. Always give 110% 2. Always present God before ourselves 3. Always be on time
For some reason I am the type of person that doesn't mind getting somewhere an hour early and waiting. But as soon as that hand ticks one minute past the appointed time I start getting fidgety.
A good example of this is the time that we were singing in west Texas on a Tuesday and were scheduled in a church just over the New Mexico state line on Wednesday.
As we arrived at the church in the early afternoon, the young pastor of this small church met us. He introduced himself and told us how excited he was that we were there. You see this was his first church and this was his first concert to sponsor. He opened the church and we unloaded the bus and started setting up our sound equipment. He was asking all kinds of questions about a ministry on the road and about how exciting it must be. I kind of took him under my wing and decided that we would show him just how professional we were. He told me that there was only one restaurant in town but they closed kind of early. If we finished early enough he wanted to treat us to dinner afterwards. After spending a little more time with him I told him that we were going to go to the bus and rest in preparation for the concert that night.
The service was to start at 7:00 and I saw by my watch that it was now 6:45. I asked everyone to make sure that they were ready. I was going to go inside the church to meet folks before the service. I left the bus and went into the church. As I entered I saw the pastor already there but so far he was the only one. We started to talk about different things and then I noticed that it was now 7:00 and he and I were still the only ones there. I got to thinking that this being a rural church many times the farmers and ranchers would work until dark and then come on in. To tell you the truth though at about 7:20 I started to get worried. Could I have gotten the time wrong? I asked the pastor if the service started at 7:30? He very calmly said "No, we start at 7:00 on Wednesdays". I replied "Oh, OK". After another 25 minutes I just looked at him and with great sympathy I said, "Ya know pastor if it's all the same to you it's fine with me if you want to go ahead close up. Sometimes these things just happen". He gave me the strangest look. I then followed with, "We could go ahead and just head on over and get a bite to eat". He just looked at me and said, "Now"? I said "Sure. Why not? I mean if no ones going to show up". He replied "But they still have 15 minutes". Now I was really confused. Until it dawned on me. I was still on Texas time. I had forgot to set my watch back when we crossed the state line. Boy was I ever embarrassed. He got a big kick out of it.
About 5 minutes later people started arriving. The church quickly filled and we had a wonderful service.
And no, we didn't get to make it to the restaurant. It seems we started too early and ran too late. I guess that day I was running on Daylight Losing Time!
John, The Rocket Scientist
In order for a gospel singer to stay on the road he must become somewhat of a Jack of all trades. Hopefully he can even master one or two. When you start traveling in a bus you had better start learning something about those temperamental monsters or they can leave you stranded and broke. This story will give you a real good example of what I'm talking about.
One time we were back in Dallas, Texas where we lived for a while. For several years we actually lived in our bus. We spent so much time on the road that it just seemed to be more practical that way. While we were back in Dallas we took our car to a local mechanic that was highly recommended to us for some repairs. It seemed that our car had started dying on us at the most inopportune moments. As time went on it continued to get worse. I thought that it was probably the ignition module but I decided to take it to someone who had the right diagnostic machines in order to be sure before purchasing a $200 to $250 part. I called and the mechanic said that I would have to leave it and he would get to it as soon as he could. Well since that was our only car and means of getting around I asked my wife to drive it over to the mechanic and I would follow her in the bus. I figured that we could use the bus to go any place that we needed to while the car was in the shop. As it turned out he was not able to get to it that day but told me if I left it there he would get to it the very first thing in the morning. I explained to him that we were kind of stuck for transportation except for the bus. Since he would probably be done with our car first thing in the morning I asked if he would mind if we just parked the bus at his shop and spent the night there. He was more then happy to accommodate us and even offer an electrical plug in for the air conditioners over night.
True to his word he started working on our car first thing the next morning. According to his test equipment it appeared that the problem was just a minor part but one that he would have to order. It would take a couple of hours to get the part and install it. I said, "OK lets do it". Well a few hours later the part was installed and guess what. It didn't work! He scratched his head and said, "Well it must be this other thing-a-ma-jig". The "thing-a-ma-jig" was ordered and later that afternoon was installed and guess what. It didn't work either! By this time I could see that we were going to spend another night there. And so we did.
The next morning he admitted that the only thing that it could be was "guess what". That's right! The ignition module. So the ignition module was ordered and replace and "guess what". It worked! I'm thinking by this time, after I have paid him over $600 that maybe I should have been a mechanic.
I told Debbie that I was going to unhook the bus and get it ready to move. Now after doing this thousands of times I felt that I could do it in my sleep. I think I did once, but that's another story. I had Robert unhook the electricity while I open the drivers' window, reached in to turn the key on and then push the start button. THUNK! Nothing. Now what's wrong? I pushed the start button again. THUNK! I am thinking to my self "I can't believe it. Somehow the batteries had run down over the two days that we were parked there. I got my voltmeter out and checked them and found that they had 12 volts but I'm thinking that maybe somehow the amps have dropped. I asked the mechanic if I could borrow his battery charger. After charging them for a couple hours I was sure that it would start now. THUNK! THUNK! I got to thinking next that the two great big 8D batteries in the bus have a one-year full replacement warranty on them. I looked at my records and saw that it had only been about ten months since I had bought them. So I disconnected the batteries and removed them from the bus. That was no little job in itself. Those batteries each way about 90 pounds and sit on a pull out tray that's about chest high on the bus. After somehow getting those batteries out of the bus I put them in the back of the car and off we went to Sam's Club to replace them. The man at Sam's didn't ask any questions. He didn't even test them. He just said, "OK. Go and get two new batteries".
After getting back to the bus and reinstalling the two batteries. I was sure we would now be on our way. I walked to the front of the bus and reached inside, turned the key on and hit the start button. THUNK! THUNK! THUNK! After all that it apparently was not the batteries. Now, I didn't like the thoughts that were flooding my mind. You see I had experienced these same symptoms before. It sounded like the starter had gone out again. I looked in my wallet and knew that I had just spent almost all of our money getting the car running. What were we going to do? Well for one thing it looked as though we were going to spend a third night at that shop. And we did.
The next morning I got on the phone and started calling every shop in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. By around 2:00 PM I found a shop that had a rebuilt starter. And it was only $250 exchange. That was a far cry from $750 (the cost of a new starter). The man said that he lived not far from where we were and would be happy to swing by on his way home and deliver the rebuilt starter and pick up the old one. I said thank you and hung up. I now had to remove the old starter from the bus. I think whoever designed buses must have been a gorilla. Nothing on them is lite. I asked the mechanic if I could borrow a floor jack and placed it under the bus directly beneath the starter. I jacked it up until it just touched the starter. I then removed the electrical cables and three bolts that secured it to the engine. I then lowered the jack very slowly with the starter. After the man arrived with the new starter I gave him the old one and my last $250. I was thinking this had better work. After installing the new starter and reconnecting all of the cables I tried to start it once more. THUNK!
Now I'm getting scared! I have done everything that I can think of to get that bus started. I have spent all of my money and it still will not turn over. As I stepped into the bus I saw the faces of my family. The looks in their eyes showed faith in Dad to overcome this problem but concern with the situation at the same time. Turning away from their eyes I slumped down into the drivers seat. As I did I quietly call on the Lord to help me. I told the Lord that I had done all that I could do and it was NOW up to him. In God speedy answer to prayer my I moved my hand down to rest it on the stick shift. Immediately I felt a horrible feeling deep in the pit of my stomach. No! It can't be. Please Lord, tell me that it's not true. But it was. As I opened my eyes and looked at the sick shift I knew then what the problem was. With my left foot I depressed the clutch peddle and with my right hand I gently moved the stick shift out of first gear and into neutral. I looked back to see if my family had seen me and was delighted to see that they were otherwise occupied. I then turned the key once more and pressed the start button. The roar of the diesel engine as it came to life was nearly drowned out by the screams of joy and praise coming from my family.
Way to go Daddy!
I knew you could do it honey!
It was probably six months or so before I had the guts to tell them that we were stuck at that shop for three days because I, being the rocket scientist that I am, forgot to take the bus out of gear before trying to start it.
Mr. Bullwinkle, The Critic
One of the things that you have to learn to contend with in gospel music is the critic. No matter where you go there is always a critic around. It seems that they come out of the woodwork. Or the woods in this case.
In August of 1997 we were scheduled to appear in the area of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Looking at our schedule I knew that we would need a service on the way out of the valley. As I looked at the map I noticed the small town of Pinedale. The first church that I called said that they would love to have us for that Sunday morning. We made all of the arrangements and I began looking down the road to find the next service. A few days later I received a phone call from that pastor. He told me that he had been thinking about it and was wondering if I would mind if he moved the service from the church to the city park. I told him that whatever he and the church wanted to do was OK with me.
We arrived the day before the service and contacted the pastor by phone. He told me that arrangements had been made for us to park our bus at the local RV Park. No sooner had we parked the bus and got set up for the night when the pastor and his family showed up to take us to dinner. On the way to the restaurant we swung by the park. He wanted to show me the flatbed trailer that they had set up for a stage. He also told me that since it was Labor Day weekend he had invited all of the other churches in town to cancel their services and join them in the park for a community gospel music service. To tell you the truth I had my doubts about whether or not any of the other pastors would cancel a Sunday morning service and join us at the park. Boy was I surprised when he told me that all the churches with the exception of one had confirmed to be there. In my minds eye this was starting to look like the makings of an extraordinary service. When went to a local restaurant and had a great time of dining and fellowship.
On Sunday morning we started the bus and drove to the park early so that we could set up our sound equipment before anyone arrived. The concert was scheduled to start at around 10:00 and go till noon. Soon people started to arrive and sure enough I saw people from different churches and denominations start to meet each other and introduce themselves and their families. I was so excited to be a part of this. It was great! At 10:00 sharp the pastor climbed up on the flatbed trailer to welcome everyone and then introduce us. We started singing and the people started joining in and clapping their hands. It was like heaven on Earth. I started thinking that we must be doing really good. The people were responding in a great way. The sound system was mixed just right. Our voices rang out clearly in the crisp mountain air. We were doing a great job! Wow! I mean we had it going on. Then just as I was patting myself on the back and congratulating myself on what a good job we were doing I began to hear a crackling and snapping sound. It was kind of hard to tell just where it was coming from while I was singing, but then all of a sudden I turned to my right and there stepping out of the woods was the biggest Bull Moose that I had ever seen. He walked right up to the trailer and stood there for a minute just listening to us do a great job. As we finished that song I paused and looked at that moose. The moose just looked at me, gave a real loud snort and began shaking his head from side to side. It was like he was trying to tell me that we were not as good as I thought we were. I was speechless. Once again the Lord was reminding me that he was in control. He was to be the center of our attentions.
The Lord has a knack for getting His point across.
He sent Jonah a whale.
And he sent me Bullwinke!
Mr. Goodwrench Strikes Again
For some reason it seems that a lot of the most humorous stories that I recall stem from adventures with the bus. Life on a bus is a never-ending learning experience.
I recall being at a service in Oklahoma City in 1995. After the service we were invited to lunch with the pastor. We were scheduled to be in Tulsa that night so looking at the travel time required I thanked him for the invitation but told him that we had to get on down the road in order to meet our schedule. Now at that time we were still traveling in our first bus. This was a 1964 GMC 4106. The 4106 was probably on of the most reliable buses ever made in my opinion. It was not the fanciest looking bus on the road but it was like a Timex. It could take a lickn' and keep on tickn'. Those buses were built to travel from bus depot to bus depot so they just didn't put fuel gauges in them. There was no need. They would just fill up at every stop. Needless to say we had to keep a close watch on the mileage so as not to run out of fuel. Well we pulled away from the church, drove to the end of the street, turned the corner, got about a quarter of a mile down the road and guess what. Yup! We ran out of fuel. I called back to the church and the pastor sent one of the men from the church who worked on forklifts to help us get it started. We put about 20 gallons of fuel in the tank. He then started an air compressor in his van and placed the hose inside the neck of the fuel tank and sealed it off with rags. This would of course create air pressure in the tank forcing the fuel through the line to the engine. He then loosened the fuel line that enters the primary fuel filter. This allowed air to escape until fuel started spraying from the line. He then tightened the line and told me to try to start it. BBRRRROOOMMMMM. It kicked right off. I was simply amazed. I made a mental note of that procedure just in case I ever needed it again.
Now lets jump forward to about 1998. We now are in our beautiful Eagle bus. We are down in Rockport, Texas for a service. I had been keeping an eye on the fuel pump. It was starting to give me some problems. We woke up on Monday morning and as I tried to start the bus it just didn't want to start. It was the fuel pump. The pastor saw me with my head in the engine compartment and came to see what was the matter. Now the pastor and I go way back. We had known each other for many years. When I explained what the problem was he simply said, "Well let's go get you another fuel pump". We finally found a parts store that had a fuel pump for an 8V71 Detroit Diesel. After getting back with the part I realized that I didn't bring all of my tools with me on this one-day trip. After working with it for a while I got it started. My past experience had shown me that if I got it going it would keep on going until I shut it off so we headed back to Poth, Texas where we had been working on the interior of the bus. That is where I had left most of my tools.
The next day in Poth I removed the old fuel pump and replaced it with the new one. In the process however I had lost the prime in the fuel line coming into the primary fuel filter. The engine would not start. I thought to myself. Hey, I know how to fix this. I went to where I had my air compressor and brought it out to the bus. My son Robert was wondering what I was doing. I told him to watch and learn from the master. I took the air hose and stuck it just inside of the neck to the fuel tank. I got some old rags and stuffed them around the air hose inside the filler neck. I then went to the back of the bus and loosened the fuel line at the primary filter. I called to Robert to start the air compressor. As the compressor started to build up pressure the air started leaking from the connection. After a minute or two the leaking sound became a gurgling sound as fuel moved up the lined to the connection and started leaking out. I immediately tightened the connection and called Robert to shut off the compressor. I them went to the driver's compartment hit the starter and BBRRRROOOMMMMM. Man was I proud. I was able to get the bus going again and teach my some a lesson in mechanics at the same time. I shut off the bus and returned outside to clean up our work area. As I stepped off of the bus I saw the air hose that was still sticking inside of the fuel tank. I thought to myself "I'll just start with this". I walked up and stood in front of the tank and took hold of the hose and BOOOM! Just as I touched the hose the pressure from inside the tank forced the hose, rags and about forty gallons of diesel fuel out off the tank and straight into my face. The force of the diesel fuel knocked me to the ground. The remainder of the forty gallons of fuel flew about thirty to forty feet from the side of the bus. I was in a terrible fix. I had diesel fuel in my eyes, up my nose, in my hair, everywhere. My wife came running out of the bus at the sound of the explosion and grabbed me. She ran me around the bus to the water hose and started peeling my clothes off and hosing me down right there on the church grounds. I'm sure that that made for some good gossip around town for the next week or two.
I guess it was about a week before I could smell something besides diesel. Oh and as for Robert, did he learn a valuable lesson? I don't really know. I haven't been able to find out. You see every time I ask him to help me work on the bus he disappears.
And for some strange reason so do my tools!
Now That's A Tough Church
I think that anyone's first year or two in the ministry can the most eye-opening experience of their life. Many preconceived notions and expectations crumble. They will also contain some of the most unforgettable things that will probably be told among friends for the rest of your life. Like this one . . .
We had been in the full time ministry for about a year when we were booked into a church in western Nebraska. As I recall it was on a Saturday night. I remember this because our friends The Singing Bragg family who are also from Texas just happened to be singing in that same town on the same night at a church across town. As a matter of fact we made plans to meet at the McDonalds after the services for dinner.
We arrived at the church around 4:30 in the afternoon. In those days we traveled in our suburban pulling a trailer with all of our "stuff" in it. Now this was not a travel trailer. It was more like what I call a pre-horse trailer. It was a utility trailer made out of the same type of trailer that they use for horses. As we pulled up to the church I got out and went to the front door of the church. It was locked so I decided to look for a side or back door that might be unlocked. No such luck. They were all locked. I did however notice that there were telephone and power lines running between the church and the house next door. I figured that the house must be the parsonage so I walked up to the front door of the house and knocked on the front door. There was no response but I did hear noises coming from in the house. I knocked again, this time a little harder. Still no answer. I was just about to turn and walk away when I heard a deadbolt unlatch and the doorknob begin to turn. As I looked up from the turning doorknob I saw the outline of the face of a lady. She said, "What do you want"? I then introduced myself. I said, "Hi! I'm John Moody with The Moodys. We are singing here tonight and I was wondering if I could talk to the pastor"? She replied, "He's not home yet" and then shut the door and locked it again. Surprised I turned and went back to the truck and told Debbie what had just happened. No sooner had I finished my story when I saw a pickup truck drive into the driveway of the house. The driver, a man, got out and went to the front door, unlocked it and went inside.
About this time I began thinking that this was really strange. A second later the man walked back out of the house and went to the church and entered through a back door. I got out of the truck and entered the church through the same door. As I did I saw the man sitting in the pastors office at his desk. As I entered his office I stuck out my hand and, "Pastor, my name is John Moody. How are you doing"? He looked at me a introduced himself. I said, "We sure are looking forward to the service tonight". He just looked at me and said, "Well I just hope someone shows up tonight". Now let me just stop and say, if you are a pastor and you are reading this story, please don't ever say that to a gospel singer in your church. You can say just about anything else. You can tell that they can't carry a tune in a bucket. You can make fun of their hair. But just don't ever say, "Well I just hope someone shows up tonight". It just sets the wrong kinda' mood. Ya know what I mean? Anyway, I reassured that I was sure it would be fine. He just shrugged his shoulders and walked into the sanctuary. As I followed him he showed me were to set up. In an attempt to make small talk I asked him, "So how long have you been at this church"? His reply was, "Five years" . . . "Five years to long". I guess the shocked expression on my face prompted him to explain. "You have to understand John, This is a tough church to pastor. I have been looking for another church somewhere, anywhere"! He then added, "You wouldn't know of any churches that are looking for a pastor would you"? Now I'm thinking to myself that if I did I would tell this guy about them. He went on and on about how bad it was there. How unresponsive the church was. Again he stated how tough this church was to pastor. Well suffice it to say that we finished setting up and told he that we were going to go and rest before the service. I couldn't wait to get out of there.
As the service started that evening I counted a grand total of 35 people in the pews. The pastor introduced us and we started singing. I had made a promise to the Lord when he first called us into His ministry that whatever the situation was we would always give 110%. Tonight would be no exception. We gave our all.
About an hour later we took a short break and the pastor came up to receive a love offering for our ministry. What happened next was something that we will never forget. He walked up, took a deep breath and said, "Well I guess we need to take a little offering for these folks". Now I know that I have heard worse calls for an offering . . . . I just don't know where! Then it went from bad to worse. At the very mention of an offering I heard a commotion rise up behind me. I turned around just in time to see literally half of the 35 folks that were there jump up out of their seats grab their bags and kids and not walk but run for the door. I mean it was a stampede. It seemed like in less than 30 seconds the only thing left of those people was the creaking of the doors as they swung back and forth on their hinges like in an old western saloon (forgive the analogy please!). I couldn't believe what had just happened. As I turned back around to face the front I looked at the pastor. He was looking towards the swinging doors and softly said, "I told you son. This is a tough church to pastor". If I weren't so close to tears I probably would have laughed myself silly. As a matter of fact Debbie was about to loose it herself.
Well the offering was collected. We finished the service and after shaking hands and saying good-byes we were off to meet with the Braggs for dinner. We arrived at McDonalds at about the same time as the Braggs. I opened the offering envelope and counted it out. There was just enough money for McDonalds. Praise the Lord!
OK, But Don't Flush!
I will never forget the time that we ministered at a little church east of Dallas, Texas. It was a Sunday morning and we arrived a few hours before the service was to start. There were many signs around the church that told us that this was a very close knit group. There were picnic tables, a bar-b-que pit and chairs for sitting and visiting. Shortly after we arrived the pastor got there to open up the church so that we could get set up.
This pastor was a very nice and accommodating individual. He seemed very excited that we were there that morning. As were introduced ourselves he began to tell me that this particular morning he feared was going to be very difficult. "You see", he said, " This morning I have to tell the congregation that I have been transferred to another church". He went on to explain that the people of that church had treated him and his family with great love and they had fallen in love with each and every person in that church. He told me that "This is the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. I think that you folks and your music will help to take the edge off of a very sad and difficult situation. Needless to say I was a little disappointed myself. When you have an opportunity to share Gods calling with people you always hope that you will have their undivided attention. It appeared that this was not going to be the case this morning.
As the pastor unlocked the church front door he was met with a very upsetting sight. The whole front of the church was soaking wet! Apparently something had gone wrong with the plumbing during the night and the toilets in both bathrooms had overflowed flooding the front of the church. I could see the anguish on his face. As if this day was not going to be difficult enough, now there was this problem to be dealt with. By this time a few more folks began to arrive. As we began to set up our sound equipment the pastor and some of the others started the task of cleaning and mopping and trying to dry the carpet as much as possible.
By the time church started the building was just about full to capacity. With everyone intently listening the pastor opened the service with prayer. The pastor announced that due to the unexplained problem with the plumbing during the night the bathrooms could not be used. He apologized for the inconvenience and asked everyone to please be patient and "Just hold it". A couple of songs were sung and then he made the sad announcement that he would be leaving the church in the next couple of weeks. You could hear the gasps of unbelief and tears of sorrow as his words hit the ears and hearts of the congregation. The heaviness was so thick in the air you could cut it with a knife. After that we were introduced and began to sing and try as best we could to lift the broken hearts that lay all around the church. It seemed that no matter what was said or sung nothing was getting through the wall that had been created that morning.
Towards the end of our service we introduced one of our most requested songs, "Elijah". As I told the story of how we came to write that song the attention of the crowd began to turn from there own personal lose to the story of the creation of that song. For those of you who have heard that song you will remember that of begins with the sound of birds chirping and of all things the sound of a "rippling brook". As the sound of that running water began to hit the ears of people who had be restricted from the bathroom for over an hour natural human tendencies began to take effect. I saw people begin to cross their legs and squirm in there seats. Just as it seemed they could take it no longer the pastor jumped up from his seat and yelled at the top of lungs "OK! You can go but DON"T FLUSH!" Laughter broke out all over the church as people began to race to the facilities. People began to smile and ran to hug their pastor and pour their love and respect out on him and his family. Needless to say, the rest of the service that morning was a time of singing, smiling and hand clapping. It is amazing how God can take a situation of sorrow and turn it into one of joy and laughter with something like a clogged toilet!
Rain Drops, Rain Drops
You may have read inside of the cover of this book that it was partially dedicated to The Singing Bragg Family. James, Barbara, Cheryl, Marcus and Roxanne have been such an inspiration and help to us over the years of our ministry. It was they who encouraged us to answer the call to full time ministry. It was the Braggs who were always there to lend a helping hand and a prayerful knee. We have shared so many wonderful times together over the years. We would like to share with you one of those times that will always be special to our family.
In August of 1994 we found out that our friends the Braggs were in Amarillo, Texas. We often kept tabs on each other so as to be able to meet up whenever possible on the road. They were in Amarillo doing some work on their bus. We got to talking and when they found that we had a few days off between services they invited us to come and park next to them and visit awhile.
When we pulled up in our bus I noticed that James was up on the top of his bus. They were improving the insulation in the ceiling and had removed the air conditioner from the roof. I can tell you from experience when you get up into the northern states and the temperature is down around -20 below zero you need every bit of insulation that you can get.
As it was already near lunch I asked them if they would like to grill some hamburgers. The idea went over well and I broke out the little gas grill that we carried with us. We gilled hamburgers and had a great time of fellowship the rest of the day.
The next day was spent helping the Braggs on their bus (that means watching and staying out of the way). It was also Crystals 13th birthday. We used a church van to go into town and bought her one of those great big chocolate chip cookies that was decorated like a birthday cake. Somehow the Braggs came up with a birthday gift for her and along with our gifts to her we had a fun time.
The next day was spent just visiting and relaxing. Plans were made to go into town for an early dinner around 4:00 PM. During dinner we noticed that the sky was getting darker and it looked like it might rain. We quickly finished our meal and loaded into the van. James was worried because they still had the air conditioner off of the bus. This left a 14" X 14" hole in the roof. If it started to rain it could do a lot of damage inside of the bus. No sooner had we pulled out of the restaurant then it started raining. This was no little sprinkle either. I mean it was like "pair 'em up Noah one more time". We could hardly see the front of the van. It was heart breaking to see the look on the Braggs faces. Like us their bus was their home and contained most everything they owned. They could just imagine the rain soaking everything they had. As we were all urging James to hurry up (which he needed no urging) there was a still small voice almost unnoticed whispering a prayer from the very back of the van. "Please Jesus, don't let the Braggs bus get wet inside. Please keep it dry for them". As we herd this sincere prayer from our four-year-old little Bethany we realized that it had nothing to do with getting there quickly. It had everything to do with calling on God for his divine protection.
As we pulled in to where the buses were parked the water on the ground was already about 3 inches deep. James pulled the van up by their bus jumped out and ran inside. The next thing we saw was a collapsed umbrella shoot up from the opening in the roof. The umbrella was then popped open and pulled back down over the hole in the roof. Everyone in the van burst into laughter at the Keystone Cops type remedy to the situation. It was the funniest thing you ever saw.
As quickly as the rain had started it stopped. We went to survey the situation and were amazed to see that the entire inside of their bus was completely dry. Not even a drop of water was found in the bus. What a miracle!
For many years The Singing Bragg Family has sung a song called "Rain Drops". It has been and probably always will be Bethany's favorite song. Next time you have an opportunity to see and hear The Singing Bragg Family make sure you ask them to sing "Rain Drops" for Bethany. You will be blessed
To this day it seems that almost every time we get together with the Braggs we all remember how the pouring rain and howling wind was averted through the soft words of a child:
"Please Jesus, don't let the Braggs bus get wet inside. Please keep it dry for them".
Stealing the Show
I remember once when we had been on the road for just a couple of years. The Children were still all quite young. As with most children our's had to always test the boundaries and like most found some of those boundaries just won't move.
It was the middle of winter and we had been booked to sing at an activities center of a Thousand Trails campground in Conroe, Texas. The concert was to begin at 7:00 P.M. We were running a little behind schedule and had arrived only an hour before the program was to start. I pulled the bus up to the center and we unloaded the equipment. The wind was blowing and it was cold. As we were setting up the equipment a good friend who had got us booked into the campground showed up. He started playing with the kids and slowing down our progress. I asked him if we could get together afterwards but right now we were running a little late. He said he understood but before he took a seat he gave each one of the children a piece of candy. I immediately told the children that they could have the candy after the concert but that they were not to have any sugar on their throats before they were to sing.
The old saying is "Boys will be boys" and Robert was all boy. At seven years old he was starting to test those boundaries at every chance he got. Seeing that Dad was not looking he popped the piece of candy into his mouth and began to enjoy it's sweetness. Having finished setting up the sound equipment we all walked the short distance to where the bus was parked. As we walked towards the bus Robert would run up ahead of us and then run back. I told him not to be running in the cold air but he wouldn't listen.
We got inside the bus and a changed into our "singin' in clothes". As I walked to the front of the bus I saw Robert having a hard time breathing. It seemed that the combination of sugar and cold air was creating a very thick flim in his throat. I quickly lectured him on the wisdom of obeying his parents and then instructed him to start sipping some hot water to flush out the flim and clear his throat. I told my wife, Debbie, that it was time for the concert to start and that I had to get up there now. I would go ahead and start singing and she was to bring the kids up as quickly as possible. I went to the activities center where there was about fifty or so people. Most of those in attendance were well into their retirements. I opened up the program and began sharing stories from the word of God and singing some good ol' gospel music. After a song or two I noticed in the back that Deb had arrived with the children. Looking to interject a little something different into the program I introduced Robert and asked him to come up and give us a song. Robert walked up and grabbed a microphone. I noticed that he looked little flushed and attributed it to his walk up in the cold weather. I then told the folks that Robert was going to do for us one of the old standards of the church called "OH How I Love Jesus". As the music started I watched him with great pride as my oldest son was standing with me side by side in ministry. What father could ask more? He started to sing out the words so sweetly.
There is a name I love to hear I love to sing its words It sounds like music in my ears The sweetest name on Earth
Man was I proud . . . .
Oh how I love Jesus Oh how I love Jesus Oh how I love Jesus Because he first loved me. This was MY boy.
As the music went into a bridge it sounded like he had stumbled over a word. At this point I was so proud it didn't matter. As the musical bridge continued he looked at me with the most awkward look on his face. I quickly assured him that it was all right. He looked at me real funny like and all I could say was "Son, it's OK. Go ahead". Apparently that was all he needed. He then proceeded to turn toward the audience open his mouth and began to loose all of his lunch. I was shocked! What in the world was he doing? Three little old ladies jumped up from their seats grabbed towels and ran to his rescue. They picked him up and held him as they ministered to his needs. As they turned and looked at me their eyes seemed to say "You mean ol' man! How can you work this poor child like this". I wanted to say, "It wasn't me! It was the candy". But I don't think they were listening. Needless to say I did a few more songs and the concert was over.
To this day he still chuckles when I recall the predicament he put me in. But I will get even! I promise!
My God answers prayer.
I am praying that he has children.
Just like him.
The "KB" Church
When you travel on the road all the time you are bound to come across some rather strange things every now and then. Such was the case with a church in central Texas one time. One Sunday night after the service the pastor of the church we were at asked us if we would like to grab a bite to eat before we headed out of town. Let me tell you, if there is one thing a gospel singer likes to do more then sing, it's eat. We followed the pastor to a local Denny's restaurant where we enjoyed some food and fellowship.
During the course of the meal I couldn't help but notice another group of people at a nearby table. Judging by the clothes that they wore and the topics of their conversations I could tell that they were another church group. At one end of the table sat the pastor of that church. He wasn't wearing a sign that said, "Pastor" or anything like that. He just had that pastor look. As we finished and began to leave I made a point of dropping by and introducing myself. When I explained that we were in the full time ministry of gospel music he became excited and as he handed me his card he asked me to call him about coming and singing at their church. I thanked him and told him that I would be in touch.
Several months later I saw on our schedule that we were going to be in the area of that church so I gave the pastor a call. He said that he was glad to hear from me and asked if we could come and sing at his church on a given date. I explained that that would fit just fine into our schedule and we booked it.
On the day of the concert we arrived at the church and saw that this was a wonderful looking sanctuary. We were excited about the impending service. As church time arrived my family and I were sitting on the front row of the sanctuary. The music started as people filed in and found their seats. After an opening prayer and a few praise and worship songs the pastor made a few announcements. So far so good! He then welcomed the lady's ministry back from their lady's retreat. Again, so far so good! He asked his wife to come up and say a few words about the retreat. She stepped behind the pulpit and began to share what a wonderful time they had had over the last day or two. She told of how each lady had enjoyed the many different topics of ministry that had been brought at the retreat. She said however that she was moved especially by the topic of the main speaker the night before. She explained that the speaker had addressed the problem in today's church of not having enough workers in the church. She spoke of how so many people today have an excuse or "but" as to why they can not become involved. Such as "Oh, I would love to teach Sunday school "but", or "I really meant to help clean the church last week "but". She told us that the speaker told them that there where "too many "buts" in church today and that we they needed to start kicking the buts out of church". Yes that's right! You heard me! Right there from the pulpit she declared that they need to become a "Kick But Church". I could not believe what I was hearing! But it wasn't over yet. The people began hollering "Amen" and "That's right". Then I could hardly believe my eyes as those same people began to rise from their seats, enter the aisle and bent over as others started kicking them in the seats of their pants. They were quickly joined by two groups of "Ribbon Dancers" doing there thing at the front of the church. It was about this time that I began pinching myself to see if I was having a nightmare. My wife somehow with her bare hands covered the ears and eyes of all four of the kids. I looked all around fully expecting to see Alan Funt and his Candid Camera crew.
As quickly as it started it stopped. People resumed their seats and we were asked to come up and sing. Not knowing what to do we took the stage. I will tell you that our ministry was just a little reserved that morning. We sang until just before noon then ended. As quickly as we could the equipment was loaded back on the bus and we were gone.
To this day the family still gets a "kick" when we remember out short but scary visit to the KB Church.
The World's Best Booking Agent
I'll never forget the time that my Dad asked me how come I didn't book our services in a straight line. He had just looked at my schedule and saw that we were crisscrossing back and forth over several states and regions in our travels. I had to explain that our dates were not determined solely by me, but also by the openings on the calendars of churches. I told him that I wish I had someone that could just book our services for us. Well, this one time we did.
We were on tour through the northwestern states. We had just finished a service with a dear pastor and friend in Johnstown, Colorado by the name of Aubrey Buettel. Aubrey is from Australia and has one of the kindest spirits of anyone I have ever met. Any way, it was Saturday and we were headed up to Cheyenne, Wyoming for a concert that evening. We were right on schedule and doing fine as we crossed over the state line. As we came closer to Cheyenne we approached a pretty good little climb. About halfway up the hill everything on the bus just went dead. I mean it just stopped working. I looked at the dash and all of my gauges were dead as a door nail (what ever that is). I was still traveling forward but I was loosing speed. I just prayed that we could make it to the top of the hill. With God and Sir Isaac Newton on our side we crested the top of the hill. Now I remembered that at the bottom of this hill was a port of entry for the state of Wyoming. I had to keep it in a lower gear so that I didn't use all of the air in the system. I would need that air to engage the brakes as soon as I reached the port of entry and with the engine not running it would not generate any more. Sure enough we were able to pull into the port and find a place to roll the bus into. Now I had no idea what the problem was but I quickly started to think about the concert that we had scheduled that night in Cheyenne and the Sunday morning service scheduled the next day. I made a decision to go ahead and call the pastor for the service the next morning and inform him of our situation. He might want to go ahead and dust off one of his stand-by sermons because it didn't look like we were going to be able to make it. After speaking to him and informing him of our situation I went to the back of the bus and opened the engine compartment. It was like the Lord just grabbed my head and turned it to look at the starter area. Right there in front of me was the problem. Somehow a retaining strap holding the main power cable from the battery to the starter had broken. This had allowed the cable to fall down and rest on the muffler. The heat from the muffler had finally melted through the protective shielding and exposed the raw wire to the muffler. The result was the whole system in the bus shorted out and the cabled virtually welded itself to the muffler. After using a hammer and chisel to separate the cable from the muffler and re-secure it, I tried to start the bus. I turned the key on and noticed that al of the gauges were now working. Praise God! That was a good sign. I hit the start button and the engine would barely turn over let alone start. Oh no! That was a bad sign.
I then called the pastor in Cheyenne. When he answered the phone I introduce myself to him and told him of my situation. I told him that he would come to the port of entry and use his vehicle to charge and jump start the bus we would be able to get to the church in time to set up for the concert. He replied that he would be more than happy to come and help us get the bus started but that there was no concert scheduled for the evening. This was one of those moments when it feels like someone just punched you in the stomach and knocked all the wind out of you. I couldn't believe it! I asked him what he meant and he told me that he never received our promotional package in the mail and therefore thought that we weren't coming. He apologized for the mix up and said that he felt very sorry about it.
After getting the bus started he asked us if we would join him for dinner at a local restaurant. During the meal he asked us if we could come and sing for the Sunday morning service. I told him that since we had already cancelled our Sunday morning service it would work out great. We accepted.
During the service the next morning I felt that God was leading me in a very strong way to minister to that congregation on a certain subject. The pastor, whose entire family had been under an assault from Satan himself was touched in a very special way. It was one of the most awesome services that we ever had. Not only did God use our family to minister to a hurting church and family but he also provided for us in a very special way. That church responded in such a big way that I believe that our income surpassed what we probably would had received in the services had our bus not broken down.
It just seems to always work out better when God steps in and rebooks our schedule to be where he wants us to be.
And that's where we always want to be!
Wolf Creek Pass
Pagosa Springs, Colorado is a beautiful place. I remember as a little boy hearing a song on the radio about Pagosa Springs and the hill just outside of town called Wolf Creek Pass. It was a very funny song about a truck driver losing control of his truck while coming down that pass. However it wasn't as funny when that song became a reality for us.
In April of 1997 we were booked to sing at a church in Pagosa Springs. It was an absolutely beautiful time of the year to be there too. The snow was still on the ground and the air was crisp and clean. The morning after our concert I got up and told the family that while they got the bus ready to travel I was going to check and adjust the brakes before heading up the pass. This was to be our last tour in the old GMC 4106. We were raising money for the purchase of the Eagle. Since the 4106 was built with an air bag suspension system I was very leery of crawling under the bus. I have heard way too many stories of air bags bursting while someone was under it causing the bus to come crashing down on them. So, I laid on the ground next to the back tires and reached my hand back behind the tires to where the slack adjusters are located. Slack adjusters are just that. They allow you to adjust the slack out of the brakes. When I finally reached them I was really surprised. Usually adjustment requires little more than a half of a turn. As I began to turn the adjusting screw it continued to turn past the half turn point. I continued turning the adjusting bolt 1...2...3 and then four turns before it started reflecting some resistance. At that point I backed it off a half of a turn and then removed the wrench locking the bolt in place. I was sure glad that I caught that before we went over the pass. Next I went to the other side of the bus to adjust the brakes on that side. To my surprise the slack adjusters on that side required about the same amount of turns before they too stopped. After adjusting the brakes I got back into the bus which was now ready to travel and off we went.
Just outside of town we approached the pass. It was so wonderful up here. The higher we climbed the colder it got. The snow was getting deeper and deeper. There were huge icicles hanging from the side of the mountain. For a boy from Texas this was truly a winter wonderland. Up and Up we went enjoying the incredible handiwork of God. What an artist He is. At the top of the pass there is a pull off for people to rest their cars and bodies and enjoy the splendor of the mountains. I pulled over because my kids from Texas wanted to play in the snow a little bit. While Debbie and the kids were out in a field making snow angels it gave me a chance to do a once over on the bus again. Everything seemed to check out OK. After about 30 minutes I called to the family that it was time to get going. They came back to the bus dusting the snow from their clothes and sniffing their now red noses. With everyone now settled in their places I slipped the bus into gear and headed down the other side of Wolf Creek Pass.
As the bus rolled forward we pulled out of the turn out and onto the main road again. As the Rpm's climbed I slipped the bus into second gear and we accelerated just a bit as we started down the mountain. The road still seemed fairly level and I could see quite a distance ahead. With several cars now following close behind and the road still level I slipped it into third gear. We were now moving along well but at a safe speed. The cars following us had either passed us or backed up a bit from the bus. Around the next turn the downgrade started to increase quite a bit and I thought it was time to start slowing down to down shift the transmission for the remainder of the decent.
Now if you have never driven a standard transmission let me tell you something. Once your speed increases past a certain point you will have to slow the drive train down in order to down shift to a lower gear. In a bus without a Jake Brake or exhaust restricters the only way to slow the bus down is to use the brakes. Knowing this I began to apply pressure to the brake pedal. Now close your eyes and picture my slightly graying hair suddenly turning white as the snow packed on the front of the bus. The bus was but slowing down but in fact was going faster. I slammed my foot again onto the brake pedal and held it there. The bus was still not slowing down but it wasn't getting any faster either. I continued to stand on the pedal and began noticing the acrid smell of overheated brake linings and smoke as it filtered into the bus. By this time the screaming and hollering was in full swing from the rest of the occupants of the bus. I don't know why, but the memory of a ball cap came to mind. It was one that had printed on it "When I die I want to go quietly in my sleep like my Grandfather, Not screaming and crying like the passengers in his car". I pushed the clutch in and tried to race the engine as much as possible to match the speed of the drive train but when I tried to down shift and it would do is grind real loud. My mind is now racing a thousand miles an hour. I called the family to the front of the bus. I told them that I couldn't slow the bus down and may have to dive it into the side of the mountain to stop it. I told all of them to get to the far right side of the bus just in case. With no other options at my disposal I was just about ready to turn the bus into the mountain when all of a sudden the road began to level out and in fact start to incline. As the bus started to slow a little I noticed up ahead a very large turnout. It was probably there to allow people to let their brakes cool. I again pressed the brake pedal. What little brakes that I did have left were now so hot that they had absolutely no braking ability left in them. The bus continued to slow as we approached the turn out, but by my estimate it was still going to fast to come to a stop. As I looked toward the turnout scanning the area for anything that could help I noticed a large rock on the ground right in the middle of the turnout.
Now I figured there was only one of two ways that a rock like that could have gotten there. It had either fallen from the mountain side, hit the ground and rolled about 200 feet or God looked down with a grin and said, "There goes my Texas flatlander again and it looks like he could use a little help," and He just put it there for me. This rock was about 12 inches high and flat on the bottom but round everywhere else. To tell you the truth it really looked as though it had just grown right out of the ground. It was the only one there too. I don't know for sure just how it got there but I was sure glad it was.
As I entered the turnout we had now slowed to about 10-15 miles per hour. I aimed the bus tires straight at that rock. I told the family that if the bus rolled over the rock without stopping that they were to jump out of the bus and I would turn it into the side of the mountain. As Debbie brought all of the kids to the door the right front tire hit the big rock and it seemed like it was in slow motion as the tire began to climb over the top of the rock. Just as it reached the top it seemed to pause for just a moment then rolled back to a stop. We all jumped out of the bus and began to inhale the clean air. Trying to expel all of the smoke and brake lining dust that we inhaled we coughed and choked until we could breath again. I turned to look at the bus. Smoke was still coming from the front brakes. I could feel the heat from several feet away. I went to the bay that houses our fresh water tank and filled a bucket with waster. I started splashing water on the wheels in an attempt to help cool them off.
We waited on that mountain for probably another hour letting the brakes cool off. I then started the bus and pulled it forward then hit the brakes several times to test them and make sure that they were working again. It appeared that they were working so I called the family together and we prayed for our safety and thanked God for keeping us safe this far. I put the transmission in first gear and walked it down the rest of the pass. There were all kinds of cars stacking up behind us and honking their horns but I just took my time and pulled over when possible to let them by.
After we got to Alamosa, Colorado I pulled into a shopping center and Debbie and the kids went inside to get something to eat. I got on the phone and called a friend of mine who is a great Christian man and probably the best bus mechanic in the world. "Charles can you help me" I asked? I explained what had happened on the mountain. I explained how the front brakes were smoking and the how bus wouldn't stop. I told him that I had adjusted the brakes just before going up the pass. He asked me if I had adjusted the front brakes or the back brakes? I explained that I had adjusted them both. He stated that the front brakes were obviously working but that they could not stop the bus all by themselves. He asked me how I adjusted the back brakes. I told him "Well silly, I adjusted them the same way I did the front brakes". There was silence on the other end of the phone. Knowing Charles I didn't like silence on the other end of the phone. Finally, he said, "John, the brakes on the back of a 4106 are adjusted in the opposite direction from the way they are adjusted on the front." Now there was silence on my end of the phone. After we hung up I ran to the back of the bus and threw caution to the wind and climbed under the bus so that I could see the brakes themselves. Sure enough, there was a gap of about half an inch between the brake drum and the shoes. I had indeed backed them completely off as far as they would go. The brakes were working right. They just moved forward closing only half the gap between the drum and the shoes when they were applied. I quickly got my tools out and readjusted the back brakes to the proper position and they worked great.
So if you ever find yourself in trouble, whether it be in a valley or on a mountaintop. Just look for the rock. He was there for us and he will be there for you.
"Passing" The Buck
Have you ever seen that television commercial where someone does something really awkward or embarrassing and the announcer says, “Ever want to get away”? I’m sure that everyone has had times in their lives like that. However, the way you handle the situation can make all the difference in the world. For instance . . .
Years ago when Bethany was about eight years old we were singing one night in Douglas, WY. During those days both Crystal and Bethany would join me on our song entitled “You’re the Only Little Girl In My Heart”. I have always placed a high priority on stage presence and tried to instill in the family the importance of such things as posture and even the proper way to stand and hold the microphone when not singing. Well that one night as I was introducing this song I guess Bethany was getting a little tired of standing there holding the microphone the way I had taught her. As her mind started to drift so did the microphone . . .straight down. Without my knowing it her hands and thus the microphone had fallen down in front of her. If you close your eyes and picture yourself holding a microphone in both hands while they are extended down in front of you. You now can picture the position of Bethany’s microphone.
Most singers will tell you that they don’t like to eat before singing because it is hard to sing on a full stomach. That is true. However, most don’t want to mention the other reason for not eating prior to singing . . . GAS.
I don’t remember eating that night before we sang but regardless Bethany unbeknownst to me had the previously mentioned affliction. All of a sudden, as I paused in my introduction, during that micro-moment of silence, Bethany’s affliction was relieved. Right into that microphone. There wasn’t a corner of the church that didn’t hear it. All of a sudden everyone in the church looked at Bethany. With all of those eyes focused on her there was nothing else she could do but say. . . “C-R-Y-S-T-A-L”! Now everyone is looking at Crystal. With all of those eyes focused on her there was nothing else she could do but say. . .”I didn’t do it”. At that the whole church lost it and started laughing so hard I knew the service had come to a close.
So next time you have a singer at your church don’t feed them before the service. If you do just make sure that they have really good microphone technique.
A Trail Of Tears
The Date: August13, 1995
Place: Belmont Church of the Nazarene
Location: Pueblo, CO
Raising four children on the road in a bus that was home requires a lot of patience and understanding. While the lifestyle allows one to experience and see many things that most people only dream about it also requires some sacrifices. The fact that we were scheduled to sing on Crystal’s fourteenth birthday did not make for a very happy young lady that day. However being the trooper that she is she buried her disappointment and stepped off of the bus ready to sing and bring a little joy into lives. As the service started the pastor got up and welcomed everyone. During this time I started to notice a slightly peculiar look on Crystal’s face. Thinking once again that is was due to her not being able to celebrate her birthday with a party and such I looked back to the Pastor. Just then he said, “Please welcome the Moodys”. We were on. Both Crystal and I hit the stage to the sound of an upbeat, hand clapping song. From there we went immediately into the next song before we stopped to catch our breath and perform introductions. It was at this point that I once again noticed that look, now very tense on Crystal’s face. As the music for our next song started she leaned over and whispered something to me. I now knew the reason for her strange look when she informed me “Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom”! I’m thinking “Great”. Why didn’t she go before we started? I quickly told her “You’ll have to wait”. More tense looks now. Well we finished that song and I introduced the next one. As we sang this song I looked at her and it was almost as if I could see tears forming in the corners of her eyes. As soon as that song finished like a bolt of lightning she was gone. I looked to my right and was walking as fast as she could to the side door of the sanctuary where the bathrooms hopefully were located. Being caught off guard I looked at the pastor and announced the we would take a short break and be right back. The pastor came up and mumbled a few words about enjoying it so far and then I guess he couldn’t think of anything else to say (go figure, a preacher at a loss for words ha ha) and invited us back up. Crystal had not yet returned so I introduced a song and sang it solo. Just as I was finishing that song Crystal re-enters the sanctuary with a look of great relief on her face. She was headed toward the stage when she passed in front of her mother and the rest of the kids. Debra tried to grab her and talk to her but nothing was going to stop Crystal from getting back on that stage. She dodged her mother’s attempts to grab her and ran up on the stage. As she stood and turned she looked once again towards the rest of the family that she had just whisked by. Curious as to the intense smiles and even giggles emanating from her siblings she began to examine herself. At that moment a look of shear horror covered her face as she now saw a long trail of toilet paper streaming from under the back of her dress and extended several feet behind her. The lack of a birthday party was now the last thing on her mind. In a burst of tears and embarrassment she once again ran from the stage with Mom now following closely. As they were in the bathroom holding each other another young girl who was the daughter of another visiting pastor came in to console her. Back in the sanctuary I was absolutely lost as to how to follow that act. After a couple of more solo’s I closed the service. As I entered the foyer where our tape table was set up to my delight and chest bursting pride there stood Crystal ready to face everyone after probably the most humiliating moment in her life. Everyone was so proud of her and heaped praises on her that night. That was an unforgettable night. The night Crystal left the stage leaving a trail of tears. . .and toilet paper.
The Turkey Of Thanksgiving
As it is with most beginnings our first few years in the ministry were an absolute struggle. It seemed that every church we sang at had a pastor that had gone to the same school when it came to receiving an offering for us. Many times I just didn’t know how we would make it when the congregation was asked to “just help us to get to the next church”. But the Lord always provided.
Just prior to October of 1994 things started to open up for us. We were now getting services booked in California and we had even been asked to open for Susie Luchsinger at the Wyoming State Fair. We were really starting to move along. It took a lot of work but the Lord was beginning to open doors everywhere.
We woke up one Monday morning in Plainview, Texas after a service there the previous night. After breakfast and getting the bus ready to go we headed the bus towards San Antonio and home for ten days of office work before heading out again. As we drove south from Plainview I remembered that Debbie cousin Kevin and his wife Cindy and their children lived in a little town just south of Lubbock, which was not too far out of our way. Deb loved seeing Kevin and Cindy any chance we got and I just knew she would want to stop and see them since we had the time. When I mentioned it to her she really surprised me by saying,” No, we had better not”. You see Cindy had been fighting a battle with cancer and Deb didn’t want to take all of our kids into their house and be a nuisance. Well I was caught off guard by that but agreed. I then got out the map and looked for a direct route back home from where we were. After selecting the route I pointed to bus in the direction of San Angelo and headed towards home. After a few hours we found ourselves zipping down a country highway. The sun began to glare through the glass so I reached over and grabbed my sunglasses and put them on. Due to the shadows that were being cast across the road by the small scrubby trees I didn’t see the three turkeys that were standing by the side of the road. As our bus got closer to them and the engine got louder they spooked and jumped into the air and began to slowly fly across the road right in front of the bus! When I saw this I immediately hit the brakes and swerved the bus in an attempt not to hit them. Due to my outstanding driving skills and nerves of steel I successfully avoided the first two large birds. However, the third turkey hit the top of the passenger side windshield and with the sound of a tremendous explosion crashed through the glass. Pieces of glass few into my face making several small cuts but due to the sunglasses my eyes were spared. The turkey slammed into the side of Deb’s head. She screamed, the kids screamed we all screamed as I pulled the bus over to see if anyone was hurt. The sight that met my eyes was unbelievable. Just a moment before Deb had reached down to pick up Thomas out of his car seat due to his incessant crying. I looked at the car seat and saw that it was filled with jagged shards of broken glass and one dead turkey. Deb was holding Thomas and her head but insisted that she was all right. The explosion from the turkey coming through the windshield had the effect of an air cannon shooting off inside the bus and blew the rear window out of the back of the bus. I looked down at the carcass of the turkey and with anger welling up inside of me grabbed it, opened the door and threw it as far as I could. As I did this a flood of questions flowed through my brain. WHY LORD??? AFTER ALL WE HAVE GONE THROUGH! NOW THAT THINGS ARE STARTING TO GO SO WELL!! WHY???
We do not have the eyes of God. We don’t always know what is coming around the next corner, but He does.
After cleaning out as much of the glass and feathers as we could and putting all four kids in the bathroom for the duration of the trip I headed, very slowly, towards home. We now had some big decisions to make. What do we do now? Deb immediately to a job with a company a couple of miles from our house. This helped with the finances while I worked to repair the bus. This was going to take a while because you can’t just go down to the local parts house and get parts for a 30-year-old bus. After she had been there six months her manager told her that she now qualified for medical insurance if she wanted it. It was expensive so we decided that we would go ahead and get it, take the kids in for check ups to the doctor and dentist and then cancel it. Well a couple of days after the insurance went into effect Deb woke up not feeling very well. As a matter of fact she was very sick. She said to me, “Hey, we have medical insurance so lets use it”. We arrived at the doctor’s office and after a few tests the doctor came out and told me that we had to have her at the hospital the very next morning for major surgery. She was in the hospital for the better part of a week and the total cost was over $36,000. Our cost was only $50 because of the insurance. Thank you Lord!
I am so thankful that we serve a God that watches over us. He knows our needs before we have thought to ask for them. Even when we are so focused on other things he will look out for us and provide for our needs. To this day you can not convince me that the Lord did not pick up that turkey and throw it through the windshield of our bus to make us stop so that he could provide for the needs that were just around the corner.
So next time you hit a bump on the road of life or even a turkey trough the windshield know that He is watching over you even if you can’t see it through all the broken glass and turkey feathers.