Happy Birthday Frances!
EVERY YEAR I do this, and every year I neglect to tell you her age, and there is a reason for that—I want to stay alive awhile longer! The first year that I mentioned her birthday in The Evangelist, I did tell her age, and I won’t do that again! You fellas know what I mean!
But in all seriousness, Frances is very, very special to me and to the work of God. What we’ve been able to do for the Lord could not have been done without her. What we are doing presently falls into the same category. Her contribution to this ministry is beyond my vocabulary to express. I’ve said it before, if she had to, I believe Frances could run General Motors, and I mean that.
The Lord has given Frances an amazing degree of wisdom, on which I constantly rely. Suffice it to say that without her, we would be doing far less than we are presently doing for the Lord Jesus Christ. She functions as the chief financial officer and personnel officer of this entire ministry. She has an uncanny ability to be able to read people, while at the same time being a friend to them. Along with all of this, as many of you know, she also has her two-hour program, Frances & Friends, which has, I think, the largest viewing audience of all the programming on SBN.
I will never be able to put into words all that Frances means to me. I only know that my eyes are not big enough to see her, and, as I’ve said so many times before, it’s been her wisdom, her faith, and her consecration to Christ that has helped us surmount what seemed, at the time, impossible.
Happy birthday, Sweetheart!
ALL RAISED TOGETHER
Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, David Beatty, and me were all raised together in the little town of Ferriday, Louisiana. As many of you have heard me tell the story, we all attended the same Assembly of God church—a small church numbering probably thirty or forty, if that. It was in this environment that we all learned to play piano together. We all had godly mothers and grandmothers who prayed for us every day.
Two of us became preachers of the gospel, namely David and me. The other two became entertainers, and they became two of the most popular in the world. Actually, Jerry Lee was referred to as the greatest entertainer in the world of his day. Mickey was not far behind, especially in the world of country music.
Almost from the time I began to preach the gospel and record gospel music, we started getting letters and requests for Jerry Lee and me to make an album together. But during that time, we were never walking the same path. I even remember watching a particular program over television where Mickey was being interviewed. He was asked as to why we did not make an album together, and his answer was somewhat revealing. He said, “Reverend Swaggart won’t do it.”
BUT THINGS CHANGE
As the Lord would have it, He would honor His word, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Jerry Lee and Mickey both came back to the Lord around the same time, and that changed everything.
Earlier this year, around the time of my birthday, I spoke with Jerry Lee, and said “Cuz, I’ve got an idea, and I would like for you to participate. I’d like for us to make an album together.”
He immediately said yes. I asked him where he wanted to record it—Nashville, Memphis, or at our studio here in Baton Rouge.
Without hesitation he said, “Your studio.”
I was hoping he would say that because we have an excellent, state-of-the-art studio here, and, as well, we have excellent engineers and people who do nothing but record gospel music all day long.
We immediately began to set the schedule, and the best time for everyone was the week after our Resurrection Campmeeting. We had a lot to do in a short amount of time.
As most of you know Jerry Lee suffered a stroke about three years ago. It left him unable to play piano, and it has hindered his singing voice as well, as should be obvious. But I knew I wanted to do this project with my cousin, and I just knew the Lord could work everything out.
Also, this meant we had to find a way to get Jerry to Baton Rouge that would be easy for him, and there is no way to get to Baton Rouge commercially without connecting through an airport somewhere else.
As word got out about this project, a dear brother in our church actually offered us to use his airplane, which made things much easier in transporting Jerry Lee. All of us will be forever grateful.
When we first discussed the project, Jerry told me, “I can’t play the piano.” In my mind, I was not worried about this, but we would see what we could do.
That day, before Jerry Lee started recording, we spent time at a piano in our studio to take photos for the album cover. As we sat there telling stories and reminiscing about some of the things we did in our childhood, we started just picking out a few notes, both of us playing together for a brief moment.
I had recorded my songs earlier in the day, so now it was time for Jerry Lee to cut his part of the album. He walked in and sat down at the piano and, would you believe it, he could still play some even after his stroke! I think everyone in the room was amazed.
He began to sing that old song, “Jesus Hold My Hand.” And then, all of a sudden, we were transported back some seventy-five years—back into the little church in Ferriday. It was the same Spirit, the Spirit of God. I could not help it, tears rolled down my face because something was happening that so many of us had prayed for all those years. Don’t ever give up on a soul. Hold them up before God because the Lord is always able.
As stated, we have some excellent engineers and musicians and singers here at the ministry. And whenever they added their efforts with Jerry Lee’s, you could tell it was church. I believe this album is going to be historic. I believe you’ll play it over and over again, and I believe the Lord will use it.
You will want a copy, and I think that you will be blessed listening to it, because when you do hear it, you are hearing some fifty odd years of prayers being answered, as only God can do.
The title of it is Jimmy Lee & Jerry Lee—The Boys From Ferriday.
As many of you know, Mickey went home to be with the Lord in May. Not long after we talked to Jerry Lee, I called Mickey, and we were going to do a gospel album together later this year. When I talked to Mickey, he was so excited and could not wait to do the album together. Mickey’s passing was very sudden and unexpected—just a few weeks after we had talked. But there’s a good possibility that we will still cut an album with Mickey. Some might ask, “How can this be done?”
Wait and see!
In the Master’s service, yours,