Drops of rain chased me into the church doors of Fellowship Baptist Church of Cape Girardeau in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. This was the last concert in our “May Madness SGM Mini Marathon”…one we weren’t really sure we’d make it out to. A few days previous (at that time) the F5 tornado went through Moore, Oklahoma – injuring 377 and killing 23 – the storms were still coming and going through the area and threats shadowed Missouri as well. After checking the weather many times before leaving the house, we decided to go. (Tornadoes we can’t handle – but thunderstorms we can!) So even though it was a Tuesday, I found myself once again, at a SGM concert. This time, the artist was Brian Free and Assurance! It was also the last week Derrick would be with them before departing from the quartet, couldn’t miss that, could I? *smile*
When the little church filled in, the Pastor stepped on stage and asked us to bow our heads and pause for a few moments of silence in respect for those who lost loved ones in the Oklahoma tornado. With hearts focused on others, minutes passed and then the pastor eased into a prayer. After, he smiled and said, “These folks need no introduction.”
Brian Free and Assurance stepped on stage and put the concert underway with What A Beautiful Day. “C’mon everybody, keep those hands going!” Brian exclaimed, “Let’s have a good time tonight.” Their second song, If The Lord Says Do It, comes from their current CD “Nothing But Love” and features bass singer, Jeremy Lile. Bill introduced the number that followed with an energetic, “Is there anyone here tonight that’s happy in the Lord?” With the response, he added, “I believe there are!” Then he sang Anything Is Possible – a lively tune that uses a few Bible stories to remind us of the Lord’s ability to accomplish anything in our lives. With a message like that, Bill couldn’t help but exclaim, “What a mighty God we serve, there is nothing impossible with Him!” Next, it was Brian’s turn to introduce a song, one that featured Derrick called Revival. When the track faded on their last notes Brian interjected, “And that’s the truth!” (I had a feeling we were going to hear a sermon before we left that night and I was right on! Brian was really fired up and if you hang in a while longer, on this review you’ll get to hear a bit of it too…) Their next song was Just A Little Talk With Jesus – then Brian greeted the crowd and shared with everyone the reason they came. “Thank you for coming. It’s a stormy, messy, rainy night but we’re here to lift up the name of the Lord Jesus. If we keep Him in the forefront of our minds, we will leave different from when we came in.” Introductions were next and Bill made sure to mention that this year marks Brian’s 32nd year in SGM! Another new song followed, it’s called I Will Be Praying and features Bill. When they finished the song Brian preached a one point sermon before they sang again. He said, “How many believe there is power in prayer? We as Christians sometimes don’t tap into the resources we’ve been given and one of those is prayer.” He went on to say that when someone comes up to them at their product table and requests prayer, they take it seriously. Brian says he will stop and pray with them right then and there at the table if they want. Just a few nights ago a man went up to Brian after a concert and asked for prayer, after 50 years of marriage his wife left him and the ole’ Devil had him beaten down and discouraged. Brian encouraged the man, “God has not forsaken you!” To us who were present that night (and really to anyone who listens to this great music) he reminded us that, “If you missed the words of the songs, you missed the whole point in being here.” The talk transitioned here into an introduction to I Want To Be That Man. “The greatest legacy we could leave men,” he continued, “is what our children, grandchildren and families will say about our relationship with God when we’re gone.” With that he sang the ballad that begins, “He was up before the sun, with his Bible opened up…seeking truth with every single page he turned.” A fun, but different version of When We All Get To Heaven came next, featuring Bill on the second verse. They ended the first half of the evening with Calvary’s Cry, another beautiful ballad that featured Brian. This is what Brian had to say before the song began… “This song reminds us what took place at Calvary…I love that cross. We tend to get a little complacent and a little jaded, we tend to forget what happened on that day, and it’s more than my mind can comprehend. It wasn’t the nails that held Him on that cross but His love for us and every drop of blood that was shed is just as powerful today as it was then!”
They stopped to take up an offering and as the ushers were getting ready the Pastor kidded with the audience and told us to give big…if we missed a meal, that’s okay! Then he turned to Brian and asked, “Can we give you a chicken?” Brian grinned and answered yes. The pastor continued, “We’re in the South, we’ll give ‘em a chicken and they can cook it up on their bus.” (The crowd chuckled at that!)
When they came back for the second half Brian announced that there was a man in the audience named James, and that day was his birthday! So before they started their set the guys sang James “Happy Birthday” in four part harmony. Officially into the program, we heard First Day In Heaven and You Must Have Met Him. “I love that song,” Brian said speaking of You Must Have Met Him, “that’s a Ronnie Hinson tune.” Stifling a sneeze, he requested a tissue and explained to the crowd that the allergies were really bothering him. After a little dialogue about the “snot-rag” he sang a request, Oh What A Savior and received a standing ovation. “My favorite Scripture is John 3:16,” he went on, “that is my favorite because it says it all. There’s only one God – there’s only one Savior – and His name is Jesus Christ! For God so loved the world that gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” If we don’t know the Word of God, we don’t know how He wants us to live and what He wants us to do.” (Here he quoted 2 Timothy 3:15) As they sang What Will You Choose the front was open to any who wanted to come forward and accept Jesus. After the invitation, Brian encouraged everyone to, “Keep a smile on your face, keep your chin up and don’t be afraid to stand for the truth.” Long As I Got King Jesus closed out the set. My favorite part of that song was watching Brian tease the other guys with his “snot-rag” – they sure scatted when he waved it in their direction! LOL
Conclusion: There is always something unique that happens at each concert to make a special memory. Being Derrick’s last week with BFA, this one gets tucked away in a special place. Yet, there are many more reasons for its distinctness – the Moore tornado is the first that comes to mind. The solemn respect and prayer that the pastor offered up at the concerts onset reminded me how blessed we are to be in the family of God – no one in Oklahoma may ever know that we prayed for them that night, but God does and the support doesn’t go un-noticed in His eyes! Secondly, Brian and his “snot-rag” – I have never, ever seen him so silly on stage! He was flat out torturing those guys with that tissue on that last song! LOL All in all, it was a wonderful evening…AND, we made it home without encountering any foul weather. Praise the Lord!