Well…. what a strange year this has been for all of us! As I’m sure you noticed, it’s been quite a while since I shared anything about KSM, and there’s a couple reasons for that. First, it seems like everyone is having a rough go of it in one way or another, and second… well, there hasn’t been all that much to talk about. I told Matt’s story on March 15 of this year… and we all remember that date, don’t we? That was the last time I shared his story until October 4.
You may (or may not) recall that towards the end of last year I mentioned in my blog that I felt as if there was a realignment of priorities for our Ministry on the horizon. It seemed that things were “fundamentally changing”, although at the time I could have never known what that meant. A couple years into the our JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME, a small church well out into the country here in Texas approached me about helping with their media and worship. As time went on and as I began to be impressed that there were some “changes in the offing”, I was interested when they asked me to take an active role in their worship ministry several Sundays over the course of 2020. It seemed in my spirit that this was somehow the right thing to do, so I was thrilled to help. When we agreed on the dates I added them to my calendar. In February of this year in addition to seven conferences, revivals and several other “through the week” dates, there remained only 7 open Sundays for the entirety of 2020.
Enter… the pandemic. In a matter of a couple weeks, we simply had nowhere to go.
Like so many of you, I wondered what in the world was going on. What would I do now? And the message of THE GREATER JOURNEY began ringing in my heart… “one step at a time”; “just enough light for that next step”. So it was easy to pour my heart into this little church that had been so good to us, and where we enjoyed old friends, and made new friends. Right off I began editing “virtual services”, and soon helping other churches do the same.
And then once again, the miracles began.
This “little” church way out in the country complete with its own graveyard baptized their 61st new believer last Sunday. The Pastor is a guy older than me (can you believe that?). He doesn’t know any better than to just preach Jesus, and preach he does! Just before I “snuck out” for a couple of dates after September, there were 170 souls gathered for worship, most half my age. At some point in this Journey, our oldest son, Joe Jr., showed up on a Sunday with our beautiful Daughter-in-law and two of our grandchildren in tow. For the record, Junior is an amazing, guitarist, vocalist, saxophonist, audio engineer and so on. Soon he would join the worship ministry. In God’s incredible love He used the threads of both our lives to weave yet another amazing tapestry of His grace. Now nearly every Sunday when I’m at Prairie Valley I get to stand right beside my son and lead worship…once again.
As far as KSM is concerned, we are doing great. God has met our financial needs every month and every time in a unique way. Our regular supporters have somehow continued. The MISSIONAudio part of our picture has grown exponentially and we have received offerings from unexpected places; and we have never had to ask. The regular monthly support of our “little church” has been a huge factor in bridging the gap. We have been invited to lead worship and consult as of late as many churches are opening up. I can’t go into detail here, but God has also continually opened doors for Shaunda and I to minister “one on one” with other hurting parents.
Remember when I said that I told Matt’s story for the first time since March 15? That was on October 4. Our Director of Missions was asked to speak for the homecoming for a small church, also way out in the country, on the opposite end of our County. He invited me to lead worship for him that day. I was able, at his direction, to put a small band together and generate a worship set for this “big day”. As things sometimes happen though, he became ill the week before that October Sunday. “Would you cover for me” he asked. I was thrilled to say yes since this gentlemen has become a friend of KSM, and a friend of mine. He continued: “forget about what we were going to do and just tell Matt’s story”. I was thrilled. After all it had been months!
On that beautiful sunny morning Shaunda and I set up our equipment on the small wooden platform in the Church, the only structure located at a crossroads in this remote section of our County. The Pastor was gracious, apologizing for the expected small crowd. I took my turn and apologized for the fact that the band he wanted would not show up, nor would his expected speaker.
The most difficult part of our “Matt story” is explaining to people exactly what it is that we do. It’s not preaching, it’s not a concert, it’s not a video presentation…it’s something entirely different. I felt that I should share a bit of what we were going to do that morning with the Pastor since it was, shall we say, a bit out of the norm for a Homecoming Sunday. I shared how we structure the service as well as a bit of Matt’s story. I told him how Matt was in his third year of Bible College, and also how he chose to worship Jesus throughout his battle with cancer. I shared that he passed away at 22 years of age. All the while I was talking, I was carrying speakers, running cables and setting up my keyboard.
I noticed that as I spoke it became rather quiet and that he had quit responding to me. The first thing that went through my mind was “oh boy, here we go… this is NOT what he wants for today”. I stopped what I was doing and turned to look at him. It was only then I saw the tears streaming down his face. He didn’t really have to say a word. I knew exactly what was happening. He broke the silence with these words:
“You don’t have any idea, do you? You didn’t know that we lost our 21 year old son just a year ago?”
And right there in that little country church I once again felt God’s smile beaming down from heaven just as sure as I had felt the sunshine earlier that morning. There were only a few of us that day thanks in no small part to the crazy year we have all experienced. But that has never bothered me. Big crowd – small crowd. City church – Country church. Traditional Church – worshipping Church. On the road – at home in worship with Joe Jr. beside me. It just has never mattered. I simply want to believe that in some supernatural way my ministry connects earth and heaven.
Do I want your continued prayers? I sure do, although I am hesitant to ask when so many people have so many needs. Do I know what 2021 holds for us? I’d be foolish if I said I had any idea. I do know this however. As I shared in ON THE VIRGE, more than ever I just simply want to finish well. And who knows, with all that has gone on this year, it may not be that far away. I pray I always remember the hard learned lesson, and that I keep the “light of His word” as a “lamp unto my feet” illuminating the pathway just ahead so I know where to step next. If I do, one of these days I’ll see the finish line and take that final step. And maybe then I can finally hear those words: “well done, good and faithful servant”.