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On Broadway

The stage is dark. Cue the lights. It's 1978 and this song is playing on every radio station.

I graduated with my master's from FSU (Go Noles!) in December 1977, and I wanted to be an opera singer. When this song hit the charts, I was auditioning for opera companies while working for a dinner theater doing Broadway review shows to make a living and get more stage experience. I began to develop a real fondness for live musical theater. This was long after my initial encounter with Jesus in 1970. Let's just say my priorities had changed. A lot.

Broadway Baby

I first saw Broadway and performed in New York City in 1973. I was still in high school. Our Jesus Music band was on tour with the youth group from First Baptist Church, El Dorado, AR. We traveled by bus and a gigantic, brand new '73 Cadillac loaded to the gills with some of my bandmates and our equipment. I actually drove that beautiful monster to and through New York City. I was 18 years old. Why the local dealership loaned us a new car and allowed me to drive on a long-distance road trip to the big city and beyond, I'll never know.

70's Jesus Music Band
Sunday's Children - Can you find me?

The entire group of about 30 teens performed a gospel musical at churches along our route from Arkansas to the Northeast. Our band, Sunday's Children, would play popular and original Jesus Music to end every evening at impromptu coffee houses, in church basements, parks, on the street, and anywhere else we could set up. Sometimes we had daytime gigs. In New York, we ran an extension cord from the second story tenement window of a faithful older saint. We set up on the street in Spanish Harlem, played our songs, and talked with people about Jesus. The cops thought we were crazy. We didn't have permit, but they didn't stop us. Honestly, we were just small-town kids from Arkansas, and we didn't know the difference. Sometimes that's not a bad thing. We had a blast!

Day By Day

One night we went to an off-Broadway production of Godspell. I'd never seen or heard anything like it. As the Brits would say, I was gobsmacked. The spark of a burning desire to be on the big stage and have my name in lights ignited inside me.

Gospel Musical
Godspell Poster

Give My Regards To Broadway

Fast forward to 1979. Pam and I met, married, and were working together in the entertainment biz in Florida. All of our friends wanted to be on Broadway, and so did we. More than a few moved there and tried to hit the big-time. Some did. My hat's off to them. We considered it, but their tales of cold, harsh winters, scraping up money to rent tiny, dingy apartments, living with other struggling artists, waiting tables to survive, auditioning, being rejected, and eating beans and weenies out of a can did not sound very enticing.

In contrast, we lived in warm, sunny Florida. We were provided or rented nice, spacious houses, apartments, and condos near the beach. We worked in entertainment full-time in theaters, cruise ships, 5-star resorts and hotels. We played at retirement communities, performed on radio and television, and did jingle work in recording studios. We traveled the nation performing in numerous cities and states, including Hawaii and the Caribbean. It paid very well. We enjoyed our situation and made the decision to stay. We made a lot of friends that became like family to us to this day. But I never saw my name up in lights on Broadway.

Lullaby of Broadway

Fast forward one more time to the present. Pam and I have lived an amazing and very different life since then. I thought my Broadway dream was long dead and buried. Certainly forgotten. Then suddenly, here I am, a 68-year-old published author with a new book about the Church. Guess what? My publisher contacted me with the idea to put my book cover on a digital billboard in Times Square. The address? 1560 Broadway. Wow! We had to go see it.

What Is Church? Times Square
Up In Lights

This was an amazing turn of events for me. I used Facebook Live to capture the moment.

A Dream Come True

One of my dear friends commented that they did not expect to see my name up in lights on Broadway for something outside of music. Yeah, me either. But there you go. It just might be a God thing. Why am I surprised that He would make this happen? After all, it's in the Bible.

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 34:7

Honestly, this experience was so much better than my original plan. I had tears in my eyes out there on Times Square. They were tears of joy at seeing not only my name, but the name of Jesus together up on that billboard before the crowds on one of the biggest stages in the world. That moment caused me to circle back and reflect on the long and winding road that God used to help me find the life and the purpose that He had in mind all those years ago when I first met Jesus and felt His great love.

Save The People

Back in the 1970's there was a Campus Crusade tract titled The Four Spiritual Laws.

#1 - God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

I probably handed this message out to hundreds if not thousands of people back then. Now, full of nostalgia, gratitude, and renewed faith I feel like this is a good time to circle back to it because it is just as true today.

Do you believe this? Do you know that God loves you? He does. Do you ever wonder if He really has a wonderful plan for your life? He does. Or do you think it's too late for you? That you've done too much, lived too long, gone too far away from God and His love? I promise it isn't and you haven't. God plays the long game. His love for you is inexhaustible.

All Good Gifts

The moral of this story from my perspective is that our best dreams, desires, and intentions actually come from God. In spite of what you may have heard or believed; He is good. Yes, God's ways are often hard to understand. He is not like us. That's why it is good that Jesus came and showed us His nature, His character, His great love and mercy. We can look at His life and see what God is really like.

The rest of my story and relationship with Jesus is too long to tell here, but if you're interested you can read more in my book or my other blog posts. Or you can contact me, and I'll do my best to reply. I don't know it all, but I know there really is a God that forgives, and a God that loves. He specializes in resurrection; of that I am certain. So, for now from Broadway, I encourage you to remember this: God really does love you and He has a wonderful plan for your life. Don't give up. Dream big.

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