Since half of the group was still in high school, and the rest still
under 40 and stout, we actually
managed to manhandle our gear up the narrow, rocky deterrent,
towering before us with surprising
speed and little issues. Once inside we began the then mammoth task
of setting everything up. A venture we had perfected over the years as everyone had specific
jobs and responsibilities to cover. With this opera-
tion in place, a set up that could take as long as 30
minutes was often completed in as little as 10 if we
were forced to “put it in overdrive” as it
were. With very little time before the service was to begin,
this was certainly one of those moments. Now many of
you may be asking how we got into the church.
Well this is where this story gets interestin.
We had lugged about half of our
equipment up to the church when a young woman arrived to
unlock the doors. We greeted her and with smiles, she opened the
door and allowed us to
hustle down the isle to begin our setup. As we started unpacking crates,
and putting up mic stands, the young lady walked straight down the isle, approached the
alter, and fell to her knees in prayer. We were stunned at first. We didn’t know what to
About then some of the other guys came in the door with a fresh load of gear from
the bus, joking and
cutting up with no idea someone was in the alter praying. When they
noticed her, they stopped dead
in their tracks. No one knew what to do. Do we stop what
we’re doing out of respect? Does she
need us to pray with her? Was it personal? General?
We were completely at a loss. She acted like we
weren’t even there. The young woman
stood up shortly afterwards and was all smiles and good cheer.
Taken aback and unsure
of what to do, we just keep doing what we knew we had to do although a
aware of our surroundings. Then the oddest thing happened, as folks began to
one after another they came through the door, walked straight to the alter, fell upon
knees and began to pray without any regard to who was there or what was going
on. When they were
finished, they got up and gleefully visited with others in the
tion as they found
their seats and waited for the service to start.
We got the sound system up and running with instruments tuned and
ready to go in
line with our best times of completion. It was then, after a great deal of the
and guest had arrived, that the preacher came up and asked us to join the men in
the back classrooms to pray. Naturally we agreed if for no other reason than to keep up
with the folks who had been praying the entire time we were setting up! The women stayed
they, in turn, prayed in the sanctuary. You could feel the energy changing in the
was an air of joy and excitement beginning to swell. When we came out of
the classroom everyone was
in a rather good mood and we were all very thankful that we
had decided to stay. All this and the
service hadn’t even begun yet!
Once back with the entire congregation the preacher walked to the
front of the church
and announced that he’d like the entire church to come to the alter
and join him in prayer.
We all looked at each other... Didn’t we just do that like three minutes ago?
But it didn’t
matter, we had to watch ourselves not to get ran over as everyone rushed to the alter to
pray. We had never seen anything like it. So, never missing an opportunity to speak with
our Lord, we
joined in happily. Once the congregational prayer was complete, everyone
got up smiling,
hugging, laughing, crying…we were having church and all we had done
was pray! Everyone took their
seats and the church service officially began.
The preacher got up and thanked everyone for coming. He thanked us
for being there
and welcomed the guests and visitors who had come to hear us sing. Then
he said, “Before
we begin tonight, I’d like to open the service in prayer. Does anyone have
any objects of
prayer they’d like to bring up?”…our mouths fell open again. Then baritone singer,
Lanning looked at Tommy and stated, “This is the 'praying-est' church I’ve ever been to in
life!” With that, once again, we all went to the alter to pray. After this prayer the
electric. We were introduced and from the first note of the first song the
Spirit filled that church like
a whale in a mop bucket. There was feet stompin’, hands
raisin’, God worshipping going on the likes
of which we hadn’t seen in years.
It was the kind of service you rarely get to be a part of and when
you are, you never
forget it. The kind of service that changes peoples lives just because they were
Spirit so powerful that if you didn’t know the Lord when you got there, you were in tight
with Him when you left! It was just what we needed after five shows in three days and
miles on the road. It was almost like the Lord reminding us what it is we do
and for what reasons. On
the way home we rejoiced in our experience into the wee hours
of the morning, making a long
journey seem far shorter.
We never forgot that
church on the hill with no parking lot or way to get to it but
crossing a road, climbing stone steps etched into a rock wall, up a sidewalk
and a second
set of steps. But you can rest assured we learned our lesson on jumping to conclusions
based on the difficulty of what’s to come. Cause when you’re willing to stick it out and
it, God takes care of the rest.