THREE SHOWS IN TENNESSEE
Last minute changes to our schedule brought us into Tennessee for our final three shows. Each one was very different from the others, very special to us. We realized today that during one eight-day period this summer, we had done 23 shows. It was only natural for all of us to feel a great sense of anticipation as we approached the finish.
At the first of these three shows, we had more than a hundred children. They were not the best behaved boys and girls, but their behavior only challenged me to try harder. I heard some children praying in very soft whispers, but it was the comment of one little boy that especially blessed my soul. We had driven from Virginia to do the show that day and were very tired. He said, “Everything was awesome!” His words were such an encouragement to us. I felt my tiredness disappearing as I looked at the smile on his face.
Our second show in Tennessee was quite a surprise to all of us. When we arrived, two little ten-year-old children were dressed as older, very well-endowed large women. They were carrying purses and wearing heels. One was a boy and one was a girl, but both were wearing wigs. I asked if it was a special dress-up day, but it was not. In 26 years of ministry, I’ve never seen anything like this.
There were a lot of things about this show that were troubling. There was a darkness in that place that I could not understand. I saw many things that were not right. One of the leaders kicked a child. I found out that many of the children have parents that are abusing drugs and alcohol. They seem particularly anxious for us to talk with them.
One little boy had a sharp piece of wood hidden in his shoe. The director found it and promised to punish him. He was only seven and I thought it odd that a little boy in a rural area would do something like this, unless he was very afraid. I went and sat down beside him and began to talk with him and his sister. I found out that he’d had to go to the hospital the day before because another child had kicked him in the back. He was very small and was really afraid. I talked with him a long time about ways to deal with problems and how God wanted to take care of him. I gave his sister an Action Bible and she promised to read the stories to her brother. She told me that she had prayed with me at the show. Sometimes the children pray out loud, but sometimes they pray so softly that I can’t even hear them. These children are in a very dangerous home situation and need your prayers. They are new to faith and need you to stand with them. After the show, I went to the car and cried. It was a very unsettling place.
Our last show of the summer was in a gigantic gym with only ten children. From what I heard, I think most of them prayed with me today. In God’s providence, we had exactly ten Bibles left, not nine, not eleven, just ten. The children were so happy to get the Bibles and their director was especially glad we came. This summer we did programs for hundreds of children at a single show, but this show was no less precious to us for the ten children that God gave us today.
Every child that we were with this summer needs your prayers. We gave away thousands and thousands of dollars worth of Bibles. Please ask the Lord to give these children the desire to read their new Bibles and Jesus Storybooks. Please ask God to grow their faith deep.
JUST FOR FUN
We passed the hours in the car by doing a Bible study which challenged us to see the unseen and look at the world with eternal eyes. Leslie serenaded us with her ukulele. I listened to more Christian rap music than I ever thought possible. I learned that I have to watch out for the pineapples, but it will take too long to explain that one. Everywhere we traveled, people were so kind to us. Our friends gave us a free zipline adventure over the tops of the Smoky Mountains. We had a water balloon fight with the Baum children! We visited with our magician friend at Top Hat Magic in Bristol, and he taught us new tricks. Tomorrow we will finish the summer by tubing down a beautiful river in Pigeon Forge…another gift. God has been so very good to us! Please pray us safely home as we hope to arrive back in Georgia tomorrow night.
Linda, Garrett, Heather, Kelsey, Drake, and Leslie