Henry and I were driving into this small country town in Mississippi that favored Mayberry on the Andy Griffith show and had no idea we were in for a total life change. Sitting in the back seat were our two little minions who were doing life with us and were so exhausted from the trip from Texas that they would have welcomed anything happening to break the monotony of the engine humming.
They got their wish! Smoke started pouring out of our engine area and our gorgeous Buick Electra started puttering as Henry pulled over while checking to make sure the Airstream travel trailer in tow was well off the road. We always looked like a band of gypsies traveling from one state to the next with our car full of musical instruments. One of the greatest blessings for us was the day we were leaving North Carolina on our way to Louisiana with our little Terry travel trailer when Henry spies an Airstream dealership.
He thought we needed to just take a look since we certainly could not afford anything that looked that expensive. We were lowly evangelists who made our living by preaching revivals week after week in churches and depending on those churches to take care of us. We knew we earned our salary; however, the amount was always given to us by faith. We lived by faith, talked by faith, sang by faith and expected God to take care of us. The great thing about all this by faith life was it worked. We were looking at those gorgeous trailers that day, and Henry was dreaming by faith. I lived in reality so I knew the amount of money in our checkbook that day.
Finally, I thought it was time to get back on the road so began coaching Henry back to the car. An older gentleman walked up to us as we were stepping out of the last Airstream that we were dreaming about. “You guys look just like a family that needs this beautiful, luxurious Airstream. Let me help you take it with you today.” I knew there was no way under heaven that we could afford such a gorgeous home, and yet this man was even building my faith.
Eventually, he informs us that he not only owns the dealership, he is also on the board of the local bank. Even after we told him our whole story about living by faith, he laughingly let us know that he was a church member and knew that we were supposed to have that trailer. He would work it out with his bank and we could hook it to our Buick and transfer our belongings to continue our trip.
As I walk down memory lane today, I am still amazed that we did leave with that Cadillac of travel trailers. In one hour, we had transferred our musical instruments, clothes, pots and pans, and even emptied our refrigerator into that gorgeous new home. As we drove away with that big silver bird attached to our blue Buick Electra, we felt like we had won the lottery. A few miles down the road, reality hit me. I began scrutinizing our bank account. How in the world did we think we would be able to afford such a luxury?
You must understand. We did not have a home, nor an apartment. The only home we had for our little minions and us was a travel trailer for six years. Our home went everywhere with us. I could continue on this story and may one day pick it up again, but I wanted you to understand that fateful day in January, 1974, God had plan that would totally change our course in history.
As we were stranded on the side of the road, Henry had a phone number of a young man who had let him know he would be there to assist if we needed help. If our car had to blow, it picked the right place to do it. James Paul lived in that little town and still does today. We were on our way to West Point that day to spy out the land. There was a small group of people, ten adults and eight children, who was the entire congregation of a church in that little town. They had previously met us while we were the main speakers for a youth camp about sixty miles from there.
We were scheduled to speak at the youth camp in Noxapater, MS for five nights. Honestly, we never went anywhere for five nights. We would pull into a town, get set up for revival, and then watch God work miracles. Normally, our revivals ran from four to ten weeks. So, it was not unusual for us when revival broke out in that youth camp which was really in the middle of nowhere. It was surrounded by fields and country roads; however, people were driving in each night from other towns even fifty to one hundred miles away.
The group from West Point knew that God was up to something. So, when we said our goodbyes at the end of the ten weeks, we headed to Texas. These people flew to Texas and let us know that God wanted us in West Point. This went on for several months until we decided to give it a try. That’s how we ended up on the side of the road that day.
We had no idea that James Paul could brilliantly take our car apart and rebuild the engine and make it just like new. We had no idea that we would become the best of friends which would last a lifetime. We had no idea that we would remain in that city for almost six years, buy property and build a beautiful church building that is still a landmark in that little town today. We had no idea that our daughter, Real Talk Kim, would be going back to that area and preaching a meeting several months ago. She was two years old when we drove into town. Rob was almost five years of age, and now he has been pastoring in our city for twenty-three years. Understand me when I say, “Change is inevitable.”