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.
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?