The highest elevation in the county of upstate NY where I grew up was almost 3400 ft. There were lots
Have you ever wondered how once in a great while, it seems like God sent a friend into your life and you didn’t even realize it was happening? Maybe that sounds a little strange to you, or it’s never happened to you, but it has to me and I’m writing about it today!
From the late 1980’s through the late 1990’s, I would watch southern and bluegrass gospel music videos on a TV channel and that shaped my interest in music, as well as my favorite groups. One of my favorite groups of that entire time were “The Spencers”. They were a family group from Ohio, and their style was a unique blend of country/southern gospel music. Eventually the group was down to just 3 members, the parents J.B. and Barbara, and their son Wade.
By 1998 I heard that Wade’s parents had retired from full time singing and Wade was starting a solo music ministry. For about the first three or four years of his ministry he put together the “Amish Country Jubilee” held late each summer at the Prairie Campground south of Elkhart.
For three nights each year, he brought in the most well known southern gospel and some bluegrass gospel groups from all over the country! (I had never seen that much talent praising God in one place in my life!)
I know nothing about starting out solo in the world of gospel music, but I knew how difficult it was to start my business so I decided to help Wade where I could…..I ordered a block of 25 tickets to give to people who wouldn’t have or couldn’t have gone otherwise.
The first night there I almost couldn’t believe the talent represented going from group to group!
Now….Wade was on stage alone for his portion-his concert…..This was what I had been waiting for, as I’d never heard him sing alone….. I don’t remember much about the songs he sang-other than that they were very good and professional. It was what he said-his testimony, that I remember most….. In fact, it’s the main thing from ALL THE GROUPS I still remember!
Wade started telling about the struggle he went through when his parents retired, something most people would have never known. He figured he would put his mandolin and guitar away, and he would never sing again. Why not? After all, he was just part of a group all his life… what else could he do now? He told about how some friends told him he could be successful in a solo ministry….but he didn’t believe them…..He felt totally defeated…..Have you ever been there? I have.
Fortunately, Wade went alone to the One who could help and show him The Way. He poured out his heart and tremendous fears to God and asked for guidance. Next was the part that really spoke to me and I’m sure God was pleased with it as well. He prayed and cried out to God: “If you’ll help me do this, I promise I’ll minister to the little crowds. I don’t need the fancy halls and large crowds, just you Lord”.
A personal testimony like that from a singer isn’t something you will hear very often. Usually, they are hoping for their “big break” that will take them to the next level—(and yes, it happens in gospel music too).
Well, after a testimony like that I just had to hang around afterwards and see if I could have a “one-on-one” with Wade! As soon as I told him who I was he knew I’d bought a bunch of tickets to give away and started thanking me…..Then, as I was talking with him, my first impression was, he is not breaking eye contact with me while we talk…..That might seem insignificant to some, but it’s a gauge I’ve always used to see if someone is interested in what I’m saying.
He went on to tell me more about his battle with stage fright and speaking to crowds—remember, he had always been the quiet guy in the back! We ended up talking and laughing that night like we’d known each other for years! We both still marvel at that night, because there were so many obstacles that could have prevented us from even meeting. But God knew what was ahead for both of us, and that friendship would become very important…..
“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps” Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)
Soon, Wade’s music and ministry began to expand in a huge way, taking several mission trips to Africa and also the Ukraine a few times. His concerts took on a whole new level of ministry after being in those prisons and hospitals in Africa…..all the Glory was going to God in a way I’d never seen before. Whenever he was scheduled to give a concert somewhere, I started telling people and I still do, that his music is great but his ministry is AWESOME!
Wade is also an outdoorsman. He loves to fish, hunt, ride horses and observe nature all over the country! A number of years ago he started an outdoor reality show called “Life’s Highway”. The show features videos from his favorite hunting trips, fishing, plus beautiful scenery-especially when he’s filmed in Colorado! Many of his music videos are on the website, as well as a segment with his wife Theresa showing you how to prepare a quick and easy dish from her kitchen.
Technology continues to change and Wade uses several different types of social media in addition to personal concerts and the many wild game banquets he has been to…..But Wade Spencer is still the same guy that promised God over 20 years ago, that he would minister to the small crowds. I’ve seen him in concert with hundreds in attendance and small crowds of less than 100 and he’s the same guy serving the Lord no matter the size of the crowd.
He kept his commitment to God, and God has blessed Wade and Theresa in ways that they never could have imagined!
You can’t force or manufacture a friendship like I’ve described today…..because as it says in Eccles. 6:14 ‘a faithful friend is a treasure’.
I hope you can reflect on a time in your own life when you believe God directed your steps…..as we continue our journey on…..
Till Next Time…..