Published February 4, 2014

Shelia Shares....
"Staying The Course"

The program that aired last weekend celebrated 34 years of producing The Gospel Greats program. Some years ago, when we celebrated the program's 25th anniversary, I reflected on those past many years. Here are the thoughts I shared at that time. They still hold true today...

When I look back over the past twenty-five years, so many thoughts come to mind.

It was early during that time, because of the program, that I met Paul. God put us together and over the years, our lives have continued to inter-twine more deeply.

During a local concert that Paul was emceeing on the program's actual twenty-fifth anniversary weekend, I knew I wanted to give a gift to Paul. Twenty-five years of consistent hard work deserves some consideration.

I considered flowers or a basket with local goodies. I thought maybe an appropriate piece of furniture. Nothing seemed just right.

Finally, when I saw it, I knew this was right. I'm not sure what I actually said in making the presentation, but following is what I meant to convey:

I've chosen to give you a solid wooden lighthouse.

We all know that Jesus is the lighthouse. You've presented that message for 25 years.

But, through the last twenty-five years, The Gospel Greats program has been a lighthouse to so many people. A lighthouse is durable, steadfast and doesn't change with a whim. You've been steadfast in presenting the message — and that message has not changed.

I can remember industry people telling us what you should and should not play. We listened politely and then continued to play exactly what you felt the Lord wanted you to play.

I can remember Glen Payne (Cathedrals) saying that you were successful because you presented the music with class and didn't play favorites among the groups. We've heard over the years from some groups that attribute their success to the way they were originally presented on The Gospel Greats program.

I know prayer goes into the program. I have been right there with you. Without that dependance on God, I know twenty-five years later would have been much different.

I remember trying to place the program on a radio station. I was to the point of closing the deal, when the station owner said, "You have that Baptist stuff on your program." I responded that we were not associated with any particular denomination. He said, "But, you talk about that ‘saved' stuff and the blood." I could tell that a Christian was not where He was, but I knew we would prefer to lose the station than to compromise the Message. I told him that we play the best in Southern Gospel music as well as interviews with the artists that will include the blood and being saved stuff. He responded, shocking me by telling me he would try the program. And they are still with us today. That illustrates the uncompromising values on which we base the program and our lives.

Have we gotten criticism? Absolutely. Have we been discouraged? Absolutely. Have we felt God leading us? Absolutely.

The wooden lighthouse is still in our bay window at home. Each evening, it sends out a light to the houses around us.

There are times I look forward to retirement, although I don't think it has crossed your mind. Just like the light from that lighthouse, Paul, keep doing what you are doing with The Gospel Greats program, as long as God gives the provisions and continues the call.

- Shelia

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