We all have a story of how God found us…how He reached down and rescued us. How He loved us back to life. I have been in the Christian music business for close to 42 years and I would love to share with you my own personal testimony and story, and it involves Christian music…
The power of music. The gift of music. Nothing like it. You see I am a product of what Christian music can do for one’s life. I am a true example of how it affected me and still affects and moves me today. I wish I could take you all back to February of 1972 in Twin Falls, Idaho. I was a troubled confused 14-year-old kid. My life up until that age had been one of mass confusion. My mom, who was a product of her own dysfunctional life, her past and her environment had been married 5 times by the time I was 13. My life was surrounded by all kinds of abuse, including sexual, verbal, and mental abuse. I even had a stepfather take me to a prostitute at the age of 12 to make sure I was a real man and introduce me to “love”. We were raised on welfare, had to steal our school clothes and other basic necessities of life. We lived in a housing development in a small apartment that was for divorcees, unwed mothers, widows and their children.
Drugs, alcohol and junk surrounded me at our house. I never had a “dad’ and I was constantly looking for a father’s love. It was a tough upbringing. I was a miserable kid who daily was seeking love, acceptance and approval in all of the wrong places. Yet in the midst of all of the junk and garbage that was around me I had always determined to make the very best of what I had around me.
One Saturday afternoon, a precious couple took time out of their own very busy life and schedule to go around the complex I lived in and invite kids to go to Sunday School on a big church bus. They invited me to go with them and I reluctantly accepted. I will admit there was something that was different about them, I could sense something, which I now recognize as Jesus in their lives. This couple was genuinely interested in me and what was going on with me. They took time with me. They started picking me up for Sunday evening service, they would come get me for Wednesday night Bible Study and youth group. They led me to the Lord, and it was amazing. What incredible joy, and peace came into my life.
One of the key elements that this couple did for me was to introduce me to Christian music. They would take me to their house every Sunday afternoon after church, and they would immediately put Christian music on their stereo turntable…they would play the same artists over and over for me…The Rambo’s, The Lanny Wolfe Trio and The Downings. I would sit there and study the album covers and liner notes. I would look at the pictures and I would listen so closely to the lyrics and the songs. This music moved me so greatly. It encouraged me, it challenged me…and it helped me in so many ways. I loved those Sunday afternoon music times. It was a year or so later and my mom asked me what I wanted for my Birthday, and I told her I wanted some “religious music”, and here is how awesome our God is…I didn’t tell her what artists, but she went to a K-Mart and she came home with The Lanny Wolfe Trio, The Rambos and The Downings. The very same artists that I would listen to each Sunday. God always knows what He is doing. Another important fact with all of this, is that I started going to the church where Carroll McGruder was the Pastor and him and Pricilla were so instrumental in my teen years with so much of life. They did so much for me in so many ways. He was a true mentor, hero and friend. He taught me how to tie a tie, he introduced me to Aramis cologne, he let me sing with him and Pricilla at church, I lived with them for a few years, and he even signed for my first car. They truly invested into me, and he would constantly share his songs with me.
Eventually I left Twin Falls to get married and work at a small chain of Christian Bookstores in the Northwest, and it was during that time that I finally got to meet my favorite group The Rambos. And it was life changing. I walked up to them, and I boldly shared my story ever so briefly and then out of the blue I declared, “and one of these days I am going to work for you”. Dottie looked at Reba and said as strong as she could, “Reba, do you remember me pointing this young man out to you during intermission, and saying, he is supposed to be a part of our ministry”. We connected that night, and we began an incredible friendship, working relationship and treasured journey since 1984. Again, the power of music and how God can use it. Buck was the father to me that I so desperately craved and him, Reba and Dottie poured into my life and today, so much of who I am is from their ministry to me.
I have so many incredible stories from my journey. I was able to meet and work alongside The Lanny Wolfe Trio. I have had so many amazing times with Lanny, Marietta, Dave and the other group members. I have sung with them, sang their songs and developed long lasting true covenant friendships that have lasted for years. I became dear friends with Ann Downing, Joy Gardner and Dony McGuire. Every one of these special ones has played such a significant part of my journey. Their gift of music helped push me into my own gift of music.
I have had the most amazing journey, of course like everyone else, I have had my share of hurt, struggle and pain but the gift of music always has been so refreshing and reassuring to me. Christian music moves me. I love to call it HEART music. The heart of the song challenges me and pushes me like nothing else. I know the value of Christian music and I strive daily to share it and live it out.
My entire career has been totally working with Christian music companies. I went from working at the Christian Bookstore to being one of the first road reps with Sparrow Records, that called on Christian Bookstores. I then went to work for The Rambo’s then onto Word Records for close to 23 years, and then the last seven years I have been so blessed and fortunate to carry on here at New Day Distributors and Daywind Records. Several years ago, I was promoted to Director of A & R at Daywind and it has been so wonderful to work alongside some of the greatest artists that I have known, been friends with and worked with for years. I get to also work with so many other Christian music labels that cover all the different genres.
Christian Music is the gift that gives and gives. I think one of the greatest things that God has done in all of this is the beautiful way, that how The Rambos, The Lanny Wolfe Trio and The Downings music and lives ministered and took care of me as a young teen and still does to this day, but God turned it around and I have been able to help minister and encourage them in certain ways along the way as they all walked thru difficult times. My heart was always to encourage them and be there for them. My heart is to be an encourager and help our artists, our music and legacy that will in turn help so many others along the way. I love how the music ministers and touches your heart and life as well.
This music still inspires me and helps me daily in all areas of my own life. The gift of music, it is for all of us. For you and for me…daily.