Greetings from 2021!
The year we just went through brought much turmoil, unrest, heartache and grief to many lives, and this new year holds no guarantee that it will be much better, so we’d like to start off this first newsletter of 2021 with a few verses from God’s Word about how we can have peace in the midst of a world in chaos.
Romans 5:1-4 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Philippians 4:6,7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
These verses are a reminder to us that in 2021 we can have peace with God and the peace of God. Peace with God comes by salvation through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and by accepting him as our Savior. Then, the grace of God allows us to glory in tribulations (I know that’s difficult for us to grasp at times), as those tribulations will produce other desirable characteristics in us. The peace of God comes through prayer and thankfulness, which allows us to not be anxious as we see all that’s going on in the world around us. It brings us a peace that the world can’t understand or comprehend and, at times, even those of us who know Christ as our Savior can’t explain. It’s our prayer that all of you reading this letter have accepted salvation through Christ to know peace with God, and that this year will find us all focusing on the peace of God.
Both our personal lives and the singing ministry were radically different in 2020. On the singing front, obviously Covid-19 drastically altered access to venues we normally minister in, and in many instances venues were shut down completely. We especially experienced this in the retirement communities and assisted living facilities that make up much of our summer road trip schedule. In addition, seven of the nine multi-group Gospel sings where we were scheduled to appear were canceled. Instead of spending the winter in Texas and a five month summer road trip, we found ourselves at home in Missouri most of the year.
From 2015-2019 we did 135-140 singing dates each year. In 2020, mainly because of the restrictions and concerns over the virus, we were only able to schedule 84 dates. Most of those were already booked before the lock downs and restrictions started. Of those 84 dates, 54 ended up being canceled, leaving us with a total of 30 singing dates for the year. We sang in only three states during the year: one concert in Texas, fourteen in Iowa and fifteen in Missouri.
We normally have a list of low lights and highlights of the year. This year the low lights were all the concert cancellations and that we didn’t get to see many of our friends we normally see during our travels. The highlights were being able to hold any concerts at all, including the two Gospel sings (both outdoors) that did take place, and the six benefit concerts we arrange each year. We do one for Children’s Haven Christian Children’s Home (located in Reynosa, Mexico), one for Coyote Hill Christian Children’s Home (located in Harrisburg, MO), three for the Life Care Clinics (three locations in central Iowa), and one for KJAB Christian Radio’s (Mexico, MO) billboard fund. The total raised at these six concerts was $6757.00. That may not sound like much, but in a year where concerts had small turnouts and many people experienced financial difficulties, we were grateful to be able to have a small part in helping these ministries. We are thankful those who attended gave generously towards the love offerings received.
On a personal level, Cheryl spent her time in December 2019 and January 2020 being her mom’s caregiver during her mom’s battle with multiple myeloma. Though her mom lost the earthly battle with that disease on January 27, she accepted Christ as her Savior before her passing. All the pain and suffering she went through fighting that disease is now over, and a new eternal life in heaven (with a perfect, pain free body) began the moment she passed from this earth! Praise be to God for the grace and mercy He showed to Cheryl’s mom, and to Cheryl as well, as she was the one who was there to lead her mom to the Lord.
In a twist we never anticipated, Cheryl now has to dedicate much of her time taking care of her dad and his affairs. There were almost 21 years difference in her dad’s and mom’s ages, and her dad will turn 97 in about a month. Although he has always been in great health for his age (raising cows and cutting wood with a chainsaw as little as two years ago), he has regressed quite a bit since he and Cheryl’s mom sold their farm and moved into a house in the little town of Centralia, MO in June of 2019. That regression seems to have accelerated since Cheryl’s mom died. His eyesight is failing, and he doesn’t get around as easily as he did a year ago. Cheryl now finds herself taking her dad to all his doctor appointments at the VA, shopping for groceries and other necessities, handling bills and other mail, ordering medicines, etc. She was blessed to have the opportunity to care for her mom, and she’s thankful 2020’s singing schedule (or lack of it) allowed her time with her dad. She says she and her dad have talked more since her mom died than they did in all the years before her passing.
In previous newsletters from 2020, I detailed the maintenance, repairs and upgrades we’ve been able to perform on our house and outbuildings while off the road. It’s been a blessing to know the life of our home and these buildings have been extended after years of neglect while we’ve traveled so extensively.
We want to thank each of you who had a part in our ministry during the unsettled time that was 2020. We thank those who prayed for us, those who called, texted or emailed just to encourage us, those who wanted to know if we needed anything, and those who continued to financially support us. Each and every one of you had an important part in this ministry, and there is no way we could ever truly express the deep gratitude we feel for your support.
We don’t know what 2021 will hold for us ministry wise. Cheryl’s dad currently lives by himself in his house, and as long as it remains that way we won’t be able to be away from him for extended periods of time. Right now that will possibly mean weekends singing away from home, plus more singing locally than in the past several years. Please pray for guidance and wisdom, not only for our ministry, but also for the care of Cheryl’s dad and his living situation.
Really, none of us knows what to expect during 2021. As we bring this newsletter to a close I wanted to talk about hope. We all hope things will stabilize and allow us to return to a more normal way of life in 2021, but right now we face many obstacles to that hope. Covid-19 is still in the forefront of the news and, according to some of the health experts and government officials, the restrictions won’t disappear this year, even with a vaccine that’s now available and being distributed. We are experiencing divisive political unrest. Some of the people don’t trust one side of the government, some don’t trust the other side, and some people have no trust of anyone in the government. Violent crime rates and murders increased dramatically in 2020. It seems our country is more divided than at any time since the Civil War.
So really, how can we have hope as we start 2021? I want to go back to the verses in Romans 5 we used at the start of this newsletter. This time I want to use them to talk about hope, and this time I want to include verse 5.
Romans 5 : 1-5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Ultimately, our hope only comes through Jesus Christ, and through Him we can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. If you’ve already accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have an absolute, sure and confirmed hope of eternal life through Him. If you’ve never surrendered and made Christ your Savior and Lord, that hope is still available to you if you’ll just confess that you are a sinner and accept His sacrifice to pay for your sins. It’s that simple.
Now look at the final thing these verses say is produced by tribulation: hope. I wanted to include verse 5 this time, because it reminds us that hope through Christ does not disappoint. We will never be disappointed in this hope because of the love of God that He poured into us by the Holy Spirit.
Don’t be shaken by all that’s happening around us. When events spin out of control, stand firm in the hope of God’s Word. Don’t be dismayed by what’s going on all around us. Don’t let it diminish your hope. As we encounter tribulations and difficulties in our life, remember that God’s Word is eternal and true, and it will never change.
As we face an uncertain new year, let’s remember that we can have peace, there is hope, and it’s all…..