2023! It’s so hard to believe we’re already almost two full months into this year. Where did 2022 go? When I was a little boy, everyone told me that when I got older time would seem to go more quickly, so don’t wish it away. Back then I laughed and shook my head at the absurdity of that thought. Now? I shake my head realizing how correct they were, and I can’t help wondering: Just exactly how much time have I wished away or wasted so far in my lifetime? That can be such a sobering thought.
After the hustle and bustle of holding our 3rd annual New Year’s Eve sing, we experienced a quiet month of January, but we then had a busy start to February. Both of us traveled down to Texas to hold our 6th annual benefit concert for the Children’s Haven Christian Home and School that is located in Reynosa, Mexico. It was the first time Cheryl was able to make this trip since 2019. While in Texas, we also were able to sing at the Bibleville Conference Grounds, the Southern Comfort RV Park Chapel’s monthly Gospel concert, Paradise South RV Park , and another benefit concert in San Benito for the San Benito Food Bank and In His Steps Ministry. Every concert was a true blessing for us. It was so good to be singing down there with my wife instead of by myself!
Cheryl also got to see so many friends, some of whom she hadn’t seen in four years. God got us to Texas safely through many miles of snow and ice covered roads, then gave us a clear path when we returned. We thank Him so much for the mercy and safety He gave us as we drove down and back. It was a wonderful trip and a much needed break for Cheryl to be able to get away for a while.
Well, before we get into our busy time of the year, I want to publish our recap of the ministry for 2022. We hope you don’t find this too boring or tedious, as we feel the need to make a report to all of you who so faithfully support us through prayers, encouragement, attendance at our concerts, and your financial support, as well. This is our way of being accountable for the trust you’ve shown us through your support. So, let’s get started.
We had a total of 97 singing dates last year, which is less than the 130-150 we were having each year before COVID but the most since everything shut down in 2020. Our busiest month was August with 26 singing dates, while November was the slowest with only 1 singing date. Technically, I guess February was the slowest, as we had 0 dates that month. Here is the breakdown of singing dates by state:
- Iowa – 46
- Missouri – 20
- Nebraska – 18
- South Dakota – 6
- Wisconsin – 3
- Texas – 2
- Illinois – 2
Now, here is the breakdown by category:
- Retirement communities – 36
- Church concerts – 21
- Cowboy churches – 2
- Gospel sings – 16
- Benefit concerts – 8
- Fairs/Festivals – 6
- Senior lunches – 2
- Prisons – 2
- Hymn sing – 1
- Square dance convention – 1
- Veterans home – 1
We are thankful that God provides us so many opportunities outside of the conventional church setting. It gives us a chance to minister and spread the Gospel to so many people who might never darken a church door. We still cherish every opportunity we receive to sing at a church (no doubt many people there need the Gospel as much as at other venues), but we are grateful for each time we get to sing outside the church walls, too.
The retirement communities continue to provide a huge blessing for us, and though I had to do so many of those by myself again in 2022, I’ve never seen so many people comment on their thankfulness that someone was coming and doing a whole program of songs that actually mentioned Jesus and salvation through Him. We’ve never seen that large of an outpouring from the retirement community before, and it makes me wonder if the isolation through the pandemic has altered some people’s thinking about life and what’s to come when this life is done.
Cheryl actually made several more concerts in 2022 than in 2021, and she actually made it to every Gospel sing date we had scheduled except for one. It truly enhances our ministry when she is able to travel and take an active part in the ministry. She is so much better at spending time with people and talking with them than I am. She has such a gift for that, and people just gravitate to her when she’s there.
As much as I like to talk, I reach a point where I’m fidgeting, feeling fatigued, and squeezed by time constraints. I’m ready to get the sound picked up, get the CD table packed up (I have to do that when she’s not with me), get everything loaded in the van, and go have some peace and quiet and be alone for a while. I’m sure there are times she feels that way, but you would never know it when she’s talking with people. She has a way of letting each person know that they are important to her and that she’ll take the time to listen to them when they’re sharing their burdens.
The Lord again protected us through all the miles we traveled for the year, as well as protecting Cheryl when a lady ran into our car while Cheryl was driving in Columbia. Our 2008 Buick Lucerne was totaled, and we’re thankful Cheryl had no injuries other than being sore and stiff for several days.
The other lady was at fault, and her insurance paid us a little over twice what we’d paid to buy the Lucerne. Putting that with some savings we had, (Cheryl’s also so good with our money) we were able to purchase a 2011 GMC Acadia mid-size SUV with 148,000 miles on it and still remain debt free. We are able to get the sound equipment and CD table stuff into the back of the Acadia, so we will now have the luxury of taking a vehicle (when we can travel without the camper) that gets much better gas mileage than the van.
We are excited to see what the Lord has in store for 2023. A couple of months ago, Cheryl talked to her dad about her plans to try and be with me whenever we have singing dates scheduled this year. It’s been three years since she’s been able to travel and minister, and we feel the Lord wants her back on the road. That will mean alternating between being on the road for about three weeks at a time and then back home for a week or two from May through October. She has asked him to consider changing his living situation, but as of now he really hasn’t addressed that, so we’d appreciate your prayers for that decision.
We want to thank all of you who have been so faithful in encouraging us over the years. It truly humbles us that so many of you have cared so much for us and this ministry the Lord has allowed us to have. September 11 of this year we will reach the 20th anniversary of our very first concert. Back then we were a part-time quartet that thought we would do a little singing in the area immediately surrounding us. We never dreamed God would allow us to be in full-time ministry or take us to all the places He has. We want to proclaim that any glory that has been achieved through this ministry goes to God alone, and that we are only able to do this……