Southern Gospel in Minnesota
By Steve Carter
During my early years of ministry, my primary skillset centered on music. Having never been confused with a singer, I utilized my skills as a drummer.
Despite all the negativity that inherently went with drums in church, such as “too loud,” at every opportunity I would be found rolling, dragging, or carrying drums down the center aisle of the host church. After setting my “tubs” up, I would climb behind them, pick up my sticks and proceed to set toes tapping and hands clapping.
Several years into my “quartet days,” I found myself riding on a 1952 vintage bus heading to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota to put on a program in each city. Getting there involved heading north after work and driving 1,000 miles. By swapping drivers and keeping at least one person awake (whose job was to keep the driver awake), we made it without anything terrible happening.
We rolled up to the church in Minneapolis by mid-afternoon Saturday and lugged equipment from under the bus and into the sanctuary for setting up. The quartet was introduced and started belting out “Southern Gospel” at 7:00 pm. By 7:03 pm The Holy Spirit went to work, and blessings from “on high” commenced. Shouts of adulation, hand-clapping, arms lifted in praise and upturned faces filled the small church. The spiritual victory was in the air and everyone soon found themselves enjoying the “showers of blessings” pouring down from heaven!
After about two hours of anointed music, I didn’t think things could get any better. As happens more often than I like to admit, I am through before God is. Suddenly, over the steady din of the rejoicing congregation, I heard additional praises to the Lord being shouted to the rafters. I looked over my crash cymbal and caught a glimpse of a woman who had long since seen the better side of seventy, running down the center of the church. She sprinted toward the quartet, hung a left, went back up the far side of the pews to the rear of the congregation where she blended into the crowd. It had been a few years since I witnessed anyone caught up in the Spirit enough to “run the aisles,” and I found it to be beautiful, indeed.
At the program’s end, much handshaking, neck-hugging, and well wishes went on as the congregation filtered out. Knowing we had another program to put on the next morning, we quickly stowed our equipment back into the bus and located a motel to get some sleep.
The Sunday morning service was conducted in a more traditional church. While I believe the congregation enjoyed the quartet, assurance of His approval of our efforts had to be taken on faith.
Following a quick lunch, we pointed our old leaky bus south into the pouring rain. The windshield quickly fogged over and trying to keep it clear with paper towels proved futile. One of the guys had a hair blower so we taped it to the visor, pointed it forward, and put it on wide open. So, there we were, squishing every step we took in wet carpet, back to bunks while a blow dryer steadily screamed. But despite our travel arrangements, no one complained. We had seen God work in a mighty way, and any inconvenience we faced, paled in comparison.
Back at work, Monday morning found myself telling those interested about the trip. One man, whom I had been witnessing to for a couple of years, had remained skeptical about Christianity and quickly pointed out flaws in those trying to serve Jesus. He was flabbergasted we had driven “all the way up there for nothing.” I explained about the blessings the congregations had received and what a joy it was for us to be a part of it. Not being one to comprehend things of the Spirit, he couldn’t grasp the concept of us answering our calling with no monetary gain. After letting me know how stupid we were to do that for free, he walked away shaking his head.
I don’t know if he ever accepted Jesus before he died a short time later………
Steve Carter is entering his 5th decade of Christian ministry. Steve had peddled across the continental United States twice. Mr. Carter’s email is: Msroadkill@bellsouth.net
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