I guess it is inevitable. If you travel long enough and put thousands of miles on a bus every year, something will eventually go wrong or quit working! Just such an event took place for the Blackwood Brothers about a month ago. We were scheduled to sing in a little town in south central Tennessee called Collinwood. It was close enough to home that my wife and I decided to drive down and visit some friends the next day. We had gotten to town a little early and visited a local coffee and gift shop with the extra time we had.
Then came the phone call from Butch. The bus had picked up something from the highway that flew up into the engine compartment, taking out the fan and the radiator in the process. Any of my guys will tell you I’m not the most mechanical person in the world, unlike Wayne who can build or repair just about anything. But I know enough to know that with no fan and radiator, the bus was not moving from that spot unless it was being pulled by a tow truck.
God always provides for our needs and did so that day through a man at the church who had a truck and a trailer. He drove the 45 minutes to where the bus was, helped the guys load all the equipment out of the bus and into the trailer, and brought them back to the church so we could do the concert. Then, after the concert, the reverse process began as we loaded the trailer and he took them back to the bus, where they loaded all our gear back on to the bus. By that time, the tow truck was there to tow the bus back to Nashville to Eagle Nest, where our friend, Mark Chadwell, and crew take care of our baby.
An insurance adjuster verified that the problem was covered under a road hazard clause (can we get a BIG PRAISE GOD!), and parts were ordered to begin the repair process. We also had the unusual situation of having nearly two weeks off, which we naively assumed would be enough time for the repairs to take place. Well, that was an incorrect assumption. And ahead of us loomed a two-and-a-half week tour to the Pacific Northwest, including three days in British Columbia. And we had no means of transportation.
I don’t know the last time you’ve tried to rent a tour bus but the cost is in the $500-$600 A DAY range plus a $300 A DAY driver. It didn’t take a mathematician to realize that a seventeen-day tour would put us in a deep financial hole. But, again, God provided. As I began to explore options and try to piece together a plan, my wife, in her usual brilliance, asked the question, “Is there a way you can reach out to other group managers who have faced similar situations and ask for their input?” Looking back, that seems like an obvious question. I simply hadn’t thought of it, but once she said it I realized the wisdom of it. So, I sent a group text to friends in our industry and said, “HELP!” One of those was Gary Casto of Tribute. I think he relayed the need to Josh Singletary, who knew that Kasey Kemp, leader of Avenue Trio, had a couple of weeks off and a van and trailer that would be idle.
So, he contacted Kasey, who also happens to be good friends and next-door neighbors of our own Jonathan & Sarah Mattingly, and Kasey called me and said, “Hey, I have a Sprinter van and trailer I’m not using for two weeks, and if you need it you are welcome to it.” He didn’t balk when I told him we were headed on a 5,000-mile round trip to the Pacific Northwest, but said that would be no problem. To make it even better, we actually wouldn’t be home before Avenue Trio’s next trip out, but Kasey had already reckoned that with just the three of them, they could make the weekend trip in his SUV, which they did.
There are some obvious points to make from all of this; God provides; He goes before us to make a way where there seems to be no way; listen to your spouse’s counsel; present the need to people God can use to meet it, etc. But, what I really want to say is, “That’s a Brother!” When you have opportunity to see and hear Avenue Trio in concert, go and support them. Anyone with a heart like Kasey & Company will minister to you. I know for a fact!
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