The Ministry – The Travel Years

preacheroftruth

People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built. Eleanor Roosevelt
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It was 1980 that year was a year for me of learning that no text book in formal education could have taught me, nor prepared me for the road I was going to travel.  This was the year I had just bought my first car, a 1973 Ford Pinto Station Wagon.  Moved into my first apartment, bought groceries and stood at the checkout and cried realizing how little money I had until the next pay cheque.


Later on in life I saw a sign on a refrigerator door that said:

Please move out

While you think 

You still know it all!


Then I was asked by an evangelist to join his team as the organist.  I knew piano well enough to play with some confidence, but the organ, I didn’t have a clue.

Well I didn’t say yes right at that very moment and told the evangelist I need to thinks about it.  I first told my grandmother, then my mother, and then finally my Pastor.  This sparked a huge commotion within the local church family.  Some were totally against me going, others were ambivalent.

My Pastor was in the camp of don’t go and when asked why all they could say was they had heard stories, rumors.

To make a long drawn out story short I made up my mind and told that evangelist that I would join.

This was the beginning of a journey I would never have guessed that I was going to experience.  I entered a world that changed my outlook on evangelists in a completely unexpected way.

More to come —-

The Ministry – Small Beginnings

I actually grew up playing the piano in the church and was deeply involved in music ministry. T. D. Jakes
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myself winter 2006 with frame
Taken in 2006

I can recall telling my mother that I was going to be an evangelist.  I barely knew what an evangelist was, did, etc.,

My music was the key to opening doors for me.  If my music was accepted I knew that I would be accepted in my preaching.

I did not start travelling for several years.  The pastor of my home church would allow me five or ten minutes to speak.  Those were the training wheels of my ministry. I didn’t have a clue on how to stitch together a sermon.(Some would argue “I still don’t”).

I am no Billy Graham or Billy Sunday, yet I feel adequate in my speaking skills, skills that I developed as the years passed by.  I did not mimic another preacher for I needed to be realistic, just to be me.

I was sixteen and was invited to a Minister’s Convention. I accepted, attended the convention. It was held in a tent.  It was in a little town outside of Ottawa, the Town of Spencervile.  One thing led to another, I became the main piano player, then they asked me to take and minister in some morning and afternoon.  The result of that time was I received ordination.  As far as I knew I was the youngest ever.

I eventually found my way back to my home area, moved into a small apartment above a bank.  Began work in an orchard, after work travel to an evangelistic meetings near by.  That led the way for that evangelist asked me to travel with him to be part of his music team.  I accepted and began travelling with him in July 1980. I was seventeen years of age.  With that I entered a crazy period of my life.

To be continued – The Travel Years

The Music- Part Two

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Myself – Grade 8

Now, the girl I was seeing told me that her family would be moving to Alymer, Ontario.  I was broken hearted over it.

There was a silver lining to that dark cloud they gave me their old upright piano.  It to me was like winning a jackpot. My parents could never had the means to buying one.

Well, I was working part time doing different jobs, I started saving my money eventually saving enough to have the piano tuned.

I sat and practised on that piano every chance I had.  I worked hard trying to play imitating piano players that I wanted to sound like.

It wasn’t long that I was playing half decent.  I became the defacto musician in the home church, well, for the services that I could make it to. 

As I became more proficient I started having my sister join me in singing duets.  We practised songs until she knew without saying a word the song that we were singing next.  We sang at youth rallies, home church, and then we were invited to sing on a Gospel T.V. Talk Show in Detroit, Michigan.

Around the beginning of the year nineteen-eighty I was able to buy my first car, a Ford Pinto Station Wagon. 

I started going into Detroit to revival meetings held in the very studio where I sang with my sister.  Every time I was there the evangelist spotted me and had me take over on the piano.  He didn’t even know my name, but for some unknown reason he seemed to like me.  That summer he asked me to travel full time with him and others, I would be his organist.  That became a new challenge for me.


I learned how to play what is called a B3 Hammond 
B3 HammondOrgan. I had to develop a style that was totally different than the Piano. Two hands were not the problem. Now I had to learn to use my left foot on the bass pedals, plus, all of the draw bars to created different moods on it.

I soon learned that my style on piano and that on the organ were not inter-changeable.  In Canada it was the piano that was accepted. In the States it was the Organ sound that people seemed to enjoy better.

As the years have went by I have become more proficient on the organ, not the Hammond, but on an Organ for my home.  My dream would be to have both the Piano and the Organ both in my home.

I have never regretted taking that step of travelling that developed my style of music both here in Canada and the United States.

The Music – Part One

myself playing piano at WCFS convention in Sasatoon
Playing and Singing at a Fair Convention in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, approx. mid 2000’s

In the early seventies my Mom had me start lessons to play the Accordion.  I believe I made it to the second year. We were living in London, Ontario. My parents decided to move back to the Windsor, Ontario area, so, the Accordion lessons ceased.

I have been in involved in Gospel Music in one form or another.  It started with my maternal Grandfather who played the guitar.  We listened to Bluegrass Gospel, and Southern Gospel Music.  He had some of the Grandchildren learn some Gospel Music songs to sing in Church. We were not allowed to have the words in front of us, thus, memorization came to play.

My music revolved totally around my Grandfather.  In nineteen-seventy-five he suffered a major heart attack while at work.  He died immediately.

Needless to say I was totally devastated, it felt like my world came to an end.  That year the region was hit with a major snow storm and Grandpa’s funeral was held back for a week.  That was the toughest week of my life at that time.  It was my first time coming to face to face with a close loved one’s death.

As a young teenager I couldn’t understand why this was allowed to happen for Grandpa was only fifty-seven.  I became bitter, stopped playing the Accordion and basically quit everything associated with Gospel Music.

We moved back to the city of Windsor, Ontario, I entered my first year of High School. I started seeing a girl that I met, she was a friend of my oldest sister.  Her family had a piano which when I was there I would try to play it.

Now, my Home Church no longer had a musician, they encouraged me to try and play for the song service.  The old piano sat to the right of the Pulpit, it was out of tune, Grandpa didn’t like anyone trying to play it.  He always said emphatically that “it is out of tune”.

To be continued…

My Home Church

Several months ago I had a phone conversation with a dear relative of mine. My relative and I were reminiscing about things from our home church.  It was mentioned that they pined for those days again.

Lori & myself at the Gospel Way Church-Leamington Ontario
My Sister Lori, myself at our Home Church, The Gospel Way Church, Leamington, Ontario, Canada

You see, the place I considered my home church sat on a country lot with tall poplar trees lined the edge of the property. It was not fancy for most of my childhood they was no running water within the walls.  At maximum it would seat maybe sixty or a little less. On the front left of the sanctuary sat an old upright piano, out of tune and was only played when a guest would visit that knew how to play, much to the grumblings of my grandfather about it.  Grandpa was the only musician, a self taught guitar player for the small and unassuming congregation.

We considered ourselves to be “Pentecostal” in doctrine but with no one umbrella that were our over-seers.  We went through many different variations of preachers and teachers over the years. Until a man became a constant with us and he was picked to be the pastor of a congregation with limited means.

Yes, we were those “Pentecostals” that you hear much about, but, not to be mistaken for those who claim power over “snakes”.  Talking in tongues, prophecy, and all manifestations of the “gifts of the spirit”.  These were all I knew growing up and throughout my teenage life.

Casual

Come Sunday night everyone would dress for church.  No, the ladies did not bring out of their closets mink coats, or wear diamonds around their neck, but yet you knew these were not their every day wear.  The same with the men, the pastor wore a suit and the men that had one.  We always had respect for those who would step behind the pulpit, sometimes we would call the “brother” so and so, or “pastor”, but never once did we think of using their first name.

Then There Was the Music

For awhile my family moved quite a bit and sometimes my mom and dad would take us to different churches when we lived a distance from the home church.  In all those years we learned the tried and tested “hymns” of the church,  mix in some choruses, and of course the Anointing of the Spirit of God.