Spoiled. That’s a good word to describe oneself after a week of walking the beach by day and hearing Gospel Singing by night. Spoiled?…most definitely. It’s something I won’t deny happening to me while in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for Singing in the Sun. There’s something rejuvenating in being near God’s creation, especially in that part of the world. Maybe it’s the energy displayed in the waves as they crash against the shore that makes you want to rise up and do something that will make an impact. Or maybe the rhythmic sound sends a peaceful rest into your soul that releases all the worries and stress from back home, allowing you to enjoy the presence of everything around you. Either way, I found that being near the water and sand was the perfect way to re-focus and leave all the worries of tomorrow in God’s hands. After all, if God takes care of all the little critters that use to live in those baby shells I had been picking up all week, there is no doubt He could handle my cares. Nevertheless, it wasn’t quite time to leave this little piece of heaven yet…for Saturday night was still ahead.
The Allen Family was already on stage singing Life in the Storm when I walked in the concert hall. Mr. Allen passionately talked about how “Christian society” has taken the Name out of their movies and music, but that name, Jesus, still holds power today. With the Wilmington Celebration Choir behind them, they sang a ballad called Jesus. This song captivated the crowd and received a standing ovation. The family closed their set with Today’s the Day, a jazzy sounding song that had all the girls standing on one side of the stage and the boys on the other.
The spotlight moved to the front right section where Greg stood in an aisle and asked a gentleman (who happened to be wearing KPNR’s new T-shirt) what his favorite part of the week was. The man said, “Josh Parker’s guitar solo. When he plays you can see through his movements and the way he plays that he believes what he’s playing.” Down the row, a lady from Charleston added, “I loved it all. I loved the spirit that was here and I love being with people who believe in my Jesus.” Greg continued that thought, “I think every group that has sang here this week has been spot on. The spirit of the Lord has been in this place, you all know that this is a convention center and a lot of events come in here, but when we come, we have church. How many remember those old campmeeting revivals?” At the crowds response, Greg directed them to the stage.
The house lights were dimmed low, cloaking the room in momentary darkness while the light bar cast a red hue on the silhouetted figures on stage. The choir parted as the band struck the first note, revealing the outline of a woman standing behind them. On the screens, a clip of Billy Graham briefly played and the water wall began a streaming fountain from the ceiling. “Folks are coming from far and wide…old campmeeting on the county line, 101, yeah, it feels like revival…” the lyrics sang out. The word “Revival” appeared on the screens and the lights came up illuminating the way for Karen Peck and New River to sing their new hit, Revival. (That song was a masterpiece at that point of the program! ) Another favorite, Robe and Crown, followed with the crowd bouncing out of their seats in the middle of the song and clapping along. “How ‘bout some more of that?” asked Karen, the crowd cheered and the encore began. With everyone back in their seats, Karen talked about their “kids” playing in the band and how it was Ray’s dream to have the young people up on stage all week. “Thank you all for being so sweet to our kids,” she went on, “the road is all they’ve ever known, why, they learned to read by reading fast food signs!” LOL (I love Karen’s jokes!) After introductions, Susan thanked the crowd for being so nice to their family and then Karen mentioned the new movie she’s going to be in, Redeemed. After asking the crowd if it would be alright to demonstrate a line she had in the movie, Jeff Hawes added, “This is going to be the Oscar winning performance!” Very solemnly, Karen walked to the end of the stage, looked straight ahead and said, “Are you okay?” LOL Jeff introduced his solo, You Did It Anyway by talking a little bit about his pastor and the impact he had on his life. Four Days Late followed and the crowd applauded when they heard the first line. But if you were the gentleman sitting in front of me, you’d cry out, “Well glory!” Karen encouraged the audience with this thought before their final song, “Folks, we know that if we’re saved heaven is the final goal, but there’s a lot of living to do between now and heaven. I want to spend the rest of my time here serving Jesus.” What a great way to introduce their powerful ballad, Finish Well.
“Amen,” said Greg, “Amen. I know a lot of you love quartet singing and this is probably the finest quartet in all of Gospel Music…might help if they find them a better tenor singer (LOL) …welcome Brian Free and Assurance!” BFA kicked off with their snappy If the Lord Says Do It. “Here’s a brand new song,” Brian said, “listen to the words, this song will preach.” That song was called Tell It Like It Was and featured their baritone singer, Mike Rogers. Then it was time for a solo from Brian on a new ballad, He Still Saves. I was so pleased with the amount of new songs they were singing when, yet again, they did another one! This one was also upbeat and titled Little Bit of Me and You. “I know you have enjoyed this week,” said Brian, “We’ve had church tonight, how many enjoyed Karen Peck and New River? How about the band back here?” He quickly introduced the group (and when I say quickly, I mean names only!) “We had so many people come by the table tonight and even last night…Satan is doing all he can to get our eyes off what it needs to be on. If you know you’re a born again child of God, you are a blessed individual.” He went on to talk about the cross and how that one act long ago on Calvary alone makes us blessed, yet, the Lord didn’t stop there. He continues to bless us. “But I’ve also talked to many people who’ve said that you’ve been blessed enough that you can say you’ve met with God.” This lead into their new single, Say Amen and the presence of the Lord just filled the room! It was a definite moment in the evening. As the track for their last song began, Brian turned to the choir who were making their way on stage and said, “Choir, get up here!” That song was none other than Long As I Got King Jesus. Automatically, the crowd stood. Needless to say, the song was encored when Greg walked on stage and hollered, “C’mon! You have a little bit more of that in you! Let’s go!” He also joined in on singing the chorus with them.
“That’s my kind of singing,” Greg said as they prepared for the next group, “How ‘bout you?” He paused then added, “A while ago a lady came up to me and said, ‘You shouldn’t have said that about that tenor singer ‘cause he is the most precious thing in Gospel Music!’” LOL After an announcement from the Allen Family, Ray talked about their event and everything that Abraham Productions does. “Most people this week have appreciated the extra productions. We wanted this to be the best Southern Gospel Music event in America and we are trying very hard to do that.” He talked about their cruise they started five years ago and how they upgraded to the highest quality ship for next year. Not only are they going to have the live band with them, the ship also has an ice skating rink!
While he was on stage, Ray introduced the next group, The Bowlings. He said, “The last time we had this group here God moved in such an awesome way. I sat over there and cried the entire set. Whenever you go through trials you get closer to Him and see His mercy and strength.” With those words the Bowlings walked on stage and began singing Your Cries Have Awoken the Master. After Heaven Is Mine and I Know Enough, Mike Bowling introduced the group and explained that last year was their daughter’s first time to sing on stage and how she didn’t sing a solo then, would it be okay if they did so now? The answer was a solo called Everything’s Gonna’ Turn Out Right. After Hope’s feature they sang an old Ronnie Hinson tune. (I ended up enjoying the song so much I forgot to write down the name! Oops…) Kelly talked about their bus wreck a few years back and the vocal problems Mike had been having and the miracles God worked for their family in both of those situations. “We just want to tell you that He is faithful,” she said. Then Mike closed out their set with a song called Somebody’s Believing.
Singing in the Sun was a pure success in 2014! Why? I think the answer can be found in Ray Flynn’s statement above – their goal is to make this the best event in America. After attending Singing in the Sun for two years, I am thoroughly convinced that it’s a reality. Abraham Productions pays attention to detail in everything they do with this event: the addition of the water wall and live band are some great examples, but what grips my heart every time is this – people come to the Lord at this event. This year, Ray announced that 80+ people came to know the Lord that week. Singing in the Sun is a success because the people feel free to walk down to the altar and pray. The artists that sing on stage are top notch and the preaching is the best of the best. I mentioned earlier that the location (being on the beach) is a major plus. There are places that evoke relaxation in a person, and the beach definitely does so! I’m glad that this event is hosted here so fans can enjoy the best of both worlds all week long. Basically, this event is a “must attend” for Believers who want a Christ centered getaway with a revival atmosphere. Next year the dates are April 20-25th 2015 – you can visit Abraham Productions website HERE for more info. If you’re on Facebook, I highly recommend you “like” their page HERE so you can get the latest updates! (Even if you’re not sure you can make the trip, the Facebook page is updated with encouraging devotionals and Bible verses you’ll enjoy.) This is a wonderful event you don’t want to miss!