Monday, September 22, 2008

OPERATION FREEDOM BELL

Most of this year for me has been spent working on my Christmas record, Ring The Bells (which releases October 7, by the way. Is that date circled on your calendar? harhar). I have never spent so much time (or energy. or money.) on a project before. Also, I have never been so excited about a project before. I have chronicled many of the moments on here...including my excitement to work with the freakishly great Brown Bannister as my producer for the project. I learned so much. Worked so hard. And just flat out had a great time through every moment of the process.

Hey...have I mentioned that you can pre-order your own copy, er, um, copies today over at my website? Wow...I can't imagine the relief you will have taking care of so much Christmas shopping so early. Stocking stuffers, teachers' gifts, pastors' gifts...not mention one for your home AND one for each car in your family.

Ahem.

A few months ago, my record label, manager and I began to talk and brainstorm about ways we could make this project more than just another CD release. We wanted to do something that would make a difference for eternity...investing in people like Jesus would. They came to me with the idea of OPERATION FREEDOM BELL. And I instantly loved it, for many reasons. Here is how it works:

When you purchase this Freedom Bell (you can find out what exactly this bell is here), a NEW TESTAMENT is sent to a soldier currently deployed overseas. Also, when they receive their New Testament, they will receive access to a website that will allow them to download some Christmas music, as well as stream personal messages from Lt. Col. Oliver North and Beth Moore.

So, when you buy a bell, you send a bible. The Word will go out. In power.

You can follow the links to their website and read specifically about these products, and how this process actually happens, so I won't duplicate all of that information here. But I do want to give you personal testimony about why I think it's important that we all participate in OPERATION FREEDOM BELL. Of course, we all have been touched personally in some way by people we love serving in the military...whether it's spouses or parents or children or brothers and sisters or friends...and even many of you yourselves have served. And many of us have even lost loved ones. My life is far removed from any kind of first hand experience with serving our country through the armed forces myself. And my prayers, thoughts and thanks go out to all of the BRAVE people who serve in this selfless and heroic way.

A lot of you know that I came along later in life for my parents. My dad was 45 when I was born (of course, that doesn't feel nearly as late as it used to). Because of this, I had a privilege that was rare for other kids my age: I had a dad who served in WWII. He served in the Army. Not only did he serve, but he was a prisoner of war. He served for 9 months in a concentration camp in Germany.

I have some really neat documentation of his story. Once, when I was in elementary school, I recorded him telling his story (on a cassette, thank you very much) so I could do a report for school. I have since had it put on CD. My siblings and I cherish it. Also, one year for Christmas, my mom and he typed out his life story. It talked a lot about his time in the service, in the war, and in captivity.

While he was captive, a lot of the horrible stuff that you might expect would happen to him did. Horrible stories...some he told, and some he never would. When the Germans captured him, they took everything he had in his possession. Everything but ONE THING: a small, metal-covered New Testament that he carried with him in his front shirt pocket...as he says, "next to his heart."

They never touched it. It was the only thing that stayed with him for his entire time of service. He still has that New Testament today.

When he returned home at the end of the war, he gave his life to Christ.

So, as you know, I do not have first hand experience with clinging to God's Word in the midst of terrible war. But I am here - alive - because my dad did.

Buy a bell. Send a bible. Who knows just how many people will be changed forever because you did?

18 comments:

Cindy said...

Wow, that's an amazing story Travis! Thanks for sharing. I got goosebumps reading it. It really made me think about what huge impact a small New Testament Bible could have. I will definitely place an order.

Have a Blessed week!
Cindy in Weaverville

lavonda said...

Your father's story brought tears to my eyes.

My father, grandfather, and father-in-law served in the Air Force, my brother-in-law served in the Army, and I'm married to an Army Lt. Col. (He flies helicopters, so I'm often in prayer for his safe return.)

I'd be honored to buy a bell for a soldier. We can never know what plans God has for each one of those Bibles -- I consider it an honor to be a part of that plan.

Thanks Travis! You have a heart of gold.

HisTreasuredPossession said...

i'm so touched by your father's story and you all, his legacy. Praise the Lord for "operations" like this one. May your project and ministry continue to be blessed and be a blessing! lovingly, rachel

Cathy Davis said...

Great story!

My husband is in the Army and has been deployed once (and is now just "deployed" in the US, but we rarely see each other, but that's a different blog), so anything to do with the soldiers and their families is near and dear to me.

(I ordered my CD and bell a week or two ago :-)!)

Tammy M. said...

Can't wait to order your Christmas Album and check out that Freedom Bell.

Kristi said...

We pre-ordered ours last week. I think this is a WONDERFUL idea!

hisfivefooter said...

Thanks for the story and for the two opportunities you presented. Please tell me you will send several CD's to Beth, Amanda, Melissa, and the LPM staff (that's four that I count) so that I do not have to send them some in my October gift box! I love the fact that you so obviously respect and honor your father. Unfortunately, I haven't seen a lot of that recently because it seems every one has discovered their "father wounds", of which, there are many. I know that these things obviously occur, but I tend to hear more negative then positive. It was quite refreshing to hear from you something positive about your father. It makes you a better man and a better father. I hold you in high regard because of your willingness to honor your father in such a public way(the blog). Thank you!
Lisa in Kirkland, WA

creative gal said...

That is such a powerful testimony! What a legacy you have to share with your children through him. Beautiful.

puzzlepiecesista said...

Thanks for sharing Trav. It would
be an honor to buy a bell and send a bible!! There's no greater gift we could give someone than the bible!!

Well said and well done Travis!!

P.S. Those pictures of you're kids that Rich took are soooo....gorgeous!!!!!

Angela in Redmond, WA

Sunni said...

What a wonderful idea! I love it! My grandfather was in the service and it is something near and dear to our hearts. Just when I feel like I can't be more excited about the ministry you have, you go and do something like this. I'm so glad people like you are still out there! God bless you my brother!

donna said...

Thank you for sharing your story. My father was in the military for 20yrs and my husband has just retired from 28yrs of service in the airforce. I am part of a military wives group at our church and we were recently given bibles to give to our ladies called "Finding Hope Beyond the Battle" that was made specifically for military wives. It is a NIV bible but also has testimonies in it from mostly miltary wives and even one military husband on how God has been with them through their journey of being a Military Spouse. I think operation Freedom Bell is a wonderful idea. thank you for doing this!

fuzzytop said...

Hi Travis - Truly an amazing story! It gave me goose bumps to read that the Germans took everything except his New Testament. Praises to God! I will definitely be ordering a CD and sending a Bible!

My mom was a young girl growing up in London during WWII, and she tells stories of the bombings and struggles in London...I am blessed to have that legacy.

Adrienne

Kelly S. said...

What a beautiful story! My grandfather served in WWII, and I too have his account on cassette:). What a treasure.
I tried to pre-order my cd's last week, but it wouldn't go through. I'll try again today. I am buying all of my pastors one for Pastor Appreciate Month (Oct.) And yes that date is circled on my calendar! Can't wait to hear it.

Cathy Davis said...

I received my LPL 3: The Lamb Has Overcome CD yesterday and it's SOOOO good! I feel like I'm there at an event, except I'm sitting here at my desk (bummer!). Do people know how good this CD is?? ;).

:-D

Cathy Davis said...

(Your wife has a beautiful voice! She's singing such a beautiful song - Made Me Glad. - Thank you, Angela :-)!)

Heather in CA said...

I, for one, will be in line at midnight to get the first copy of that Christmas CD Ü! I'm also excited that because it gives me permission to listen to Christmas music starting in October...THANK YOU for that!!!

Bev Brandon said...

that is one incredible story that so stirs my heart ... and he gave his life to Christ when he came home with that Bible in his pocket ... he really knows what he is saved from--- Colossians 1:13 ... i will remember this story and buy a bell

Jeff Bumgardner said...

Awesome. Thanks for sharing that personal story with us. (Did I really just salute the computer screen? I'm such a dork.)