The cement steps led up to a church built of grey stone; steeple towering above us, much like the sun in the heat of the day. A gentleman opened the front door and welcomed us inside with a smile. It had been a while since I visited a church where coming through the front door placed you in the middle of the sanctuary aisle. As I slipped into a pew towards the back and looked around, I guessed that the church had stood for many years. Pipes from an organ covered the wall behind the stage and the balcony above us was situated on each side of the sanctuary instead of the back. If the decorations had been a little more elaborate, I would have thought I walked into an English Cathedral. Alas, it was a Baptist church – The First Baptist Church of Anna – where Brian Free and Assurance sang over the Fourth of July weekend.
The pastor opened the evening in prayer and welcomed BFA to the stage. Brian, Bill and Mike opened their concert with What A Beautiful Day, When We All Get To Heaven and their new song, You Could Be The Difference. After the first few songs, Brian greeted the audience, “I know it’s the Fourth of July weekend and there are a lot of things you could be doing tonight, but thank you for spending your Saturday night with us.” He went on to quickly introduce the group and point out that Bill has been with the group for 15 years and Mike for three. Brian shared a little about their families as he introduced each member and when he came to Mike, he mentioned that Mike’s oldest daughter was seven years old. “I know what a lot of you are thinking,” Brian began. “He doesn’t look like he’s old enough to have a sever year old daughter. First, he’s a lot older than you think. Second, he got married when he was ten…we do that every now and then in Georgia.” Everyone chuckled and Brian added, “No, we don’t do that but that’s what some people think.” LOL The next song featured Mike and was titled, Tell It Like It Was. “I love that song,” said Brian, “you can get eight or ten good sermons out of that song.” While they were singing that last song, I noticed some folks walk in the side door and around the sanctuary to sit with some people who waved them over. As they were sitting down, Brian looked their way and said, “Y’all are late! Where have you been?” LOL
“Satan’s on a rampage,” said Brian, beginning to preach a little. “He knows his time is limited. He’s after the family and trying to get people away from the Word of God and if you’re a Christian that’s your rule book, if it isn’t, you’re not a Christian.” He went on to explain that the previous night they were singing in Indianapolis and 21 people came to know the Lord. “It was one of those times there was a sweet, sweet spirit in the auditorium,” he added. After a pause, he began to speak of the next song. “I realize how blessed I am to have the grace of God in my life. I know how unworthy I am to have God’s love and grace; His forgiveness and love are something our hearts can never understand, but that is the wonder of it all…because that’s just what grace does.”
The song, That’s Just What Grace Does, followed. Bill went into his solo Somebody’s Miracle and the audience clapped to the beat all the way through the song. Afterwards, Bill stated, “You could be their miracle.” With a message like that, Brian couldn’t help but elaborate a bit. “God can use us in so many different ways,” he began. “We don’t have to know what everyone is going through to be their answer to prayer. I’ve missed chances in my life when I was just living in my own world and I thank God He always has given me another chance.” When Brian finished talking about Somebody’s Miracle, he introduced Peace In The Valley and how they came to be a part of the documentary celebrating Elvis’ anniversary. Speaking of the opportunity to be a witness for the Lord, Brian said, “We gave them Jesus all day long and by evening, they were ready for us to go.” LOL Before the song, he added, “We have one in our group that looks like Elvis and one that sounds like him, you figure out which is which.” Bill interjected, “Thank you very much,” in Elvis fashion. They sang Peace In The Valley and went right into Say Amen. By the first chorus, hands were raised. “If you can sit there and not feel anything,” Brian said after Say Amen, “you’re not saved.” He quoted the lines of the chorus and when the appropriate places came, everyone answered with amen. Mike and Bill had stepped off the stage for a moment and Brian pointed out their bus driver, Guy, who was sitting in the back row. Guy doesn’t always come into the concerts so when he does, Brian always points him out.
“You chose to be in the best place you could be, the house of God.” – Brian Free
Before the offering, Brian shared about BFA’s ministry and then the pastor prayed for the offering. While the offering plates were passed the church pianist played the offertory. As I listened to the tune, the thought entered my mind, I know this song. On stage, Brian sat and watched her play with a big grin on his face. When she finished, he told the story. The song was titled I Am Redeemed (a BFA song) that she had requested the last time they were there. This year, she requested it again. But the song was older and Brian couldn’t remember the lyrics! She hollered to Brian, “I’ll hear it one way or the other!” Brian shared from the stage, “I tried it during sound check and couldn’t even remember the first word.” From the front row where she sat after the offertory, she spoke the lyrics, “The angles were assembled around the throne.” Brian replied, “That sounds real good but I still can’t remember it!”
Instead of intermission, BFA went right into their second set. They sang many favorites like If It Takes A Valley, Praying Man, O What A Savoir, For God So Loved and then closed with Long As I Got King Jesus.
Conclusion: This concert was a real blessing. BFA has included many of their songs from “Live Like We’re Redeemed” in their set and I love it! The crowd was amazing. They clapped on every song and not just at the beginning, but all the way through. That’s a rarity most of the time! The guys really fed off the crowd’s energy, which energized the crowd even more. A few folks were just about dancing on Long As I Got King Jesus too! We had a great night!