Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 6:21 pm Post subject: Our mighty God orchestrated a Presidential Visit!
I just had to send out this praise report. We've had the most amazing week as we've seen God move in mighty ways. When He wants something to happen, it just happens. This e-mail may get a little long but I want you to get the full picture of what God did for our ministry this past week, even the little details. I'm going to list things in sort of a chronological order so you can see the journey.
1. For some time, we've tried to get people who do good things for our military made aware of our ministry to the troops. We're not looking for glory ourselves but for more opportunities to encourage and share Christ with our troops. Many who support us have e-mailed folks like Sean Hannity, Bill O'reilly,
Congressmen, etc.. We've never received a response. It's the old "I'm not a celebrity" so they don't care.
2. This last Tuesday while at the Coast Guard Base in Elizabeth City NC, I received a phone call from MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) at FT Jackson SC. We frequent this base with our ministry. They asked where I was going to be on Friday Nov 2nd. They said President Bush was coming for the soldiers graduation ceremony and that they wanted me to come and provide musical support for the event. It was suggested by a COL. that I've never had any interaction with there. I had no idea who he was and or that he actually liked what we do with the troops.
3. We were scheduled to be at Poplar Branch Baptist Church in Grandy NC the night of the 2nd it would be a 7 hour hard drive to get back to the church for the service. Even being optimistic it would have been all but impossible to make it in time. It's my policy to NEVER cancel on a church unless I'm just too sick to sing. That's only happened twice in 5 years.
4. I called the base and told them, that there just wasn't a way for me to do it due to the travel time between engagements. The only way we could have done it was by flying and the commercial flights just weren't available. Instead of taking no for an answer, the folks at the base said "just keep trying on your end Eric" and we'll keep trying on ours". I said ok. This was on Wednesday.
5. We had been in Revival all week with the Evangelical Methodist Church in Elizabeth City. Our dear friends and ministry partners Margaret and Louis Twiford attend that church. They began to pass around our situation at the church and people began to talk. There are several big farmers in the church and some of them knew crop dusting pilots, so the conversations began.
6. We were staying at the Twifords House. They put in a 50 amp service so we could plug our coach up in their yard. Louis came out to the coach at 7:00 a.m. that morning as we were preparing to try and make the drive and said I had a call on their home phone. It was a member of the church, Jimmy Winslow and he was working on finding us a plane to make the trip.
7. Jimmy decided to charter us a private jet to go to FT Jackson. Take in to consideration that Jimmy hardly knew us and the cost was going to be between 5 and 6 thousand dollars to do this. He simply appreciated our ministry to the military and wanted to help. Jimmy knew a great pilot and before we knew it, the deal was done and we had fast transportation to do the date.
8. One small complication was that we had all 3 of our dogs with us and someone would have to tend to them in order for us to go. Again, Margaret and Louis came to the rescue. The dogs stayed on the coach the Twifords took care of them as if they were our children. That may not seem like a big deal to some of you but it was huge for us. We couldn't have gone without covering that base.
9. The Coast Guard Base in Elizabeth City closed their runway the day we were to go for re-surfacing so again Margaret and Louis came to the rescue and drove us and hour and a half to Norfolk VA to meet our plane.
10. We got to the plane and were wheels up around 3:30 on the afternoon of the 1st. We had to go a day early to sound check and prepare for the concert. When we arrived, everything went very smooth. They had a great sound company and it was a painless sound check. We were ready to go.
11. We went to the base early on the 2nd to avoid the long security lines at the gate due to the Presidents visit. When we arrived at the venue, we were met by a young lady by the name of Tovah who worked for the White House. She was the advance person for the event. She brought over a secret service agent to check us out so we wouldn't have to wait in the long security lines. She took us in to the stadium and showed us where our seats for the Presidents speech were going to be. (very front row!) She then told us that she'd come get us as soon as the President finished his speech and that we were going to get to meet him. I've been to many meet and greets with celebrities so I pictured a bunch of people clamoring to meet the President. There were around 6000 people at this event and there were only 4 allowed at the meet and greet. They chose our party to meet the Commander in Chief! Out of all those people, they chose us. Ain't God good!
12. I did 3 sets of music for the crowd. I was sort of perplexed as to what music I should do. We have plenty of patriotic material but much of it aims directly at the troops and requires their interaction. It was suggested that I do that material anyway for the families but I just didn't think they would respond. A couple of the songs are cadence. I call out lines the troops yell them back to me. I just didn't see the families doing that.
Well I put one of those songs in anyway and decided to hope for the best. Just before I came to that song in the set list, about 200 young troops filed in to the bleachers directly behind me. Right out of the blue, I had my response team for the song. I yelled back to the Drill SGT and asked if I could borrow his soldiers and he said have at it. The crowd loved it when the soldiers jumped in there with me. The concert was a great success in all ways.
13. Afterwards we were in the Presidents holding area waiting to meet him and the General from the base leaned over, winked at me and said "thanks for all you've done for our Brigade". He had set it up the meet and greet. There wasn't supposed to be one but the General at FT Jackson made it happen for us. Thank you Lord for him!
14. President Bush walked in and he couldn't have been nicer. He was very kind and paused to take photos with us. The General then spoke up and explained to him that we came as a ministry to the troops.
The President seemed to get excited about that and thanked us several times. Again, I'm not looking for glory in what we do but it was pretty cool to hear those words from the President.
15. Debby asked him, how we could get some of our music in to his hands and he said "give it to me right now and I'll have them for sure". Of course Deb was prepared and she gave him 3 of our c.d.'s as well as a brochure about our ministry to the military. As they whisked him away in the motorcade, we could see him reading something that looked like our brochure in the car.
16. Folks the Lord made a way to get us to the very top person in the chain- talk about eliminating the middle men. Please pray for favor in all of this. If the President heard or saw something he liked, he could open more doors for us to grow this ministry than anyone else. (at least anyone of this world)
17. When the President left to visit other places on the base, it became imperative that we get off base before he did so we could catch our flight before they shut the airport down for his departure. Our MWR representative jumped in his car and said "follow me". He gave us an escort off base so we could avoid the traffic of the 6000 people trying to leave. As we went down the interstate toward the airport, there were police and secret service people EVERYWHERE. We made it through just before they closed the roads for the Presidential motorcade. We arrived at the airport and boarded our plane in a hurry. Folks we were the very last plane they allowed off the ground at the Columbia airport before locking everything down. We received word as soon as we were wheels up that the airport was closed. As we flew over the interstate we could see traffic backed up for miles. Had we gotten caught in that or at the airport we would have missed our date that night. We arrived back in Norfolk 48 minutes later and got to the church for our evening worship service with 40 minutes to spare.
I'm sorry to go on and on but I wanted you to see Gods hand in all of this. When we had given up on getting the attention of those who could help us, the Lord said,"You can't do it on your own, BUT WATCH THIS!!!!"
WE SERVE AN AWESOME GOD!!!!!! Thank you to all of you who prayed so intently for us and this situation this week. God heard and HE ANSWERED YES! To Him be ALL the GLORY!
We're so Proud of you Guy's. I bet it was an awesome site, as you were approached by the most powerful Man on earth, our Commander-in-Chief. I wish I could have seen your face(s). Did anyone snap a photo? I guess the only thing to top that, would be when you stand before the Almighty. Peace be with you Guy's.......all of you.
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