When disaster strikes, the harsh realities of life rush in. Our eyes are opened and we realize how blessed we really are. We stand on the sidelines and watch others go through things that we can’t imagine. If faced with the same circumstance, would our faith hold up? What would we do, if placed in someone else’s shoes?
A few weekends ago a strong set of storms crossed Arkansas. I didn’t realize it then, but we had planned on seeing The Mark Trammell Quartet in concert near that very area. Driving down the road that would lead us to the community center, I noticed that the Black River was flooding and when we pulled into the parking lot, FEMA was there. The following day the community center was going to be used as a shelter for those who had to evacuate their homes because of the flooding. It dawned on me that this was going to be an interesting place to have a concert, and then I learned something else…MTQ was singing in Arkansas the whole weekend, and all three dates were booked by the same gentleman. He owns an ambulance company that serves the area and the concert we went to in Pocahontas (free admission) was a way for him to say thank you to the community for supporting his company through the years. With the tornado that went through ten days previously and the flooding, this gesture of kindness touched my heart. Then I met Wade Lentz, the man who was filling in as bass singer for the weekend. Wade is a pastor, great singer and currently without a home. Everything that he and his family owned was taken away by the tornado that swept through ten days previously. Yet, there he was with a smile on his face, ready to help MTQ with the transition they were going through. How ironic is that? The Mark Trammell Quartet was there to encourage the community who were facing the after effects of natural disaster and singing with them was Wade, who experienced those effects in a very personal way, yet, stepped on their bus to support them. Indeed, God works in mysterious ways!
The community center had a row of folding chairs set out on the floor and then there were the bleachers, but these weren’t just any bleachers! For the first time ever, I spotted a scoring table amid the second row! I’m telling you, it was a bloggers paradise! 😉
The gentleman who booked The Mark Trammell Quartet introduced MTQ as the evening was about to begin. When he talked about Mark being from the area, he called him “Arkansas’ favorite son of Gospel Music.” The Mark Trammell Quartet kicked off the night with Leave Your Sorrows, How Long Has It Been and Ransomed and Redeemed. “I know you all have had quite a bit of water and strange weather over here,” said Mark, “I’m sorry for that, but we’re so glad you let us come.” He introduced the guys next and when he came to Wade he said, “The next one in line is brand spanking new. This is his very first night with us; he’s filling in, singing the bass part for us this weekend.” He went on to say that Wade pastors the Baptist Church in another town and how his house looked “very much like this floor tonight.” The audience gasped when they heard the story of how the tornado flattened his home and killed 39 in the community. “I heard them rehearsing a while ago,” Mark went on, “I don’t know if they rehearsed this one or not, do you think you could get through Echoes?” Wade answered, “Let’s try it.” So Echoes from the Burning Bush was next. “You did better than I thought you would!” exclaimed Mark afterwards, “Honest, I thought I was throwing you under the bus on that one, but since you did so good, let’s see if you can get through this one.” Then Wade sang I Thirst. I sat there amazed. When you add a new person in the mix, you can expect to be surprised. Though that song usually isn’t in MTQ’s set, it was obvious Wade had been singing it long before that weekend. It was perfect. Another song that hasn’t been in MTQ’s set for a while followed, Mark’s solo, Way Past Ready. Mark thanked the crowd and then set up their next song, Your Walk Talks, by briefly talking about their new CD. God’s Been Faithful and Don’t Stop Running followed. “You can’t imagine how much fun I’m having tonight,” Mark laughed, “because he (speaking of Wade) doesn’t know any of these songs.” LOL After taking a moment to pay tribute to the work that the EMTs do on a daily basis, MTQ closed the first half of the program with Too Much To Gain To Lose.
After intermission, the second half began with Meet Me Over on the Other Side and went into Tis So Sweet, When the King Comes to Claim His Throne and Man of Sorrows. After the bass feature, I’ll Take it to the Grave, Mark turned to Wade and said, “My hat is off to you, sir, because the last thing on your mind is learning songs to help us out.” Then to the crowd, he said, “I’m grateful, so grateful that I got a text message from him saying, ‘You may already have someone for this weekend, but I’d really like to do that for you.’”
“These folks who have put this on, allowing them to aid this community they serve, day in and day out, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I want you to know that I don’t take that lightly. My mom and my wife’s mom both were very sick, they’re now in glory, but for a few years it was a common occurrence to call 911 and have somebody come pick them up. People who know what they’re doing – it means life or death. I thank God for folks who are willing to care for us like this.” – Mark Trammell
The King is Coming was the last song of the night. Though there were few folks in attendance, all were on their feet, taking in the lyrics that say… “The King is coming! Oh! The King is coming! I just heard the trumpet sounding and now His face I see…”
When it was all said and done, I slipped my computer back in its case knowing that I just attended no ordinary concert. Literally, it was the first concert without Pat Barker singing bass, and I must admit, I was a bit afraid to go for fear that it just wouldn’t be the same. Yes, it was different, but I learned a good lesson after that night – the absence of one doesn’t diminish the effect of the group as a whole. Wade did an excellent job – for it being his first night, I would have expected to hear more mess ups, but every time the bass line was featured, he knew the words and melody! (What really impressed me was they sang seven of their new songs! Seven out of ten!) It was a fun night, yet, humbling. Everyone who walked in had a story to tell about the storms that came through. Though many experienced the physical storms during that time, it was a vivid reminder that all are facing some kind of tempest in their life, whether it is spiritual, in a relationship or any other kind of trial…and that He is faithful to us through it all!