I went to 8/28 in Washington five years ago. It was a life changing event, so when Glenn Beck announced he was having an event on it’s anniversary I knew I needed to be there. And it truly was another life changing event.
In order to get to Birmingham, Alabama from Los Angeles, you have to fly into Houston and then take a smaller plane to Birmingham…..one of those with two seats on one side of the aisle and one on the other side. When I boarded the plane I asked how many were going to the Glenn Beck event and more than half raised their hands. I said great, now talk among yourselves. It was a much more interesting flight.
Glenn Beck put this event together with Bishop James Lowe of the Guiding Light Church in Birmingham. Guiding Light is one of the largest Black churches. Bishop Lowe, as a child, was in Sunday school at the famous 16th Street Baptist Church when it was bombed and four teenaged girls were killed. He also started his ministry as the associate pastor of the 16th Street Church. Bishop Lowe, along with 60,000 ministers, joined the Black Robe Regiment to stand against the moral decline of our country and to unite us at a time when we are more divided than ever in our lifetimes.
These were the most inspirational, spiritual enlightening, uniting days of the lives of those who were there…..and in my case, I suspect there was some divine intervention.
It began by my being booked into the closest thing to the Bates Motel I’ve ever seen. It was in the middle of nowhere and when the taxi dropped me off, I felt abandoned. I opened the door to my room and was overwhelmed by a musty and moldy tomb like odor. I turned on the lights and it was still dark. The furniture was worn and the front of the drawer of the bedside table was missing. I took out my phone to call a cab. My cell said “no service”. I looked for a phone in the room….there was none. I went to the lobby, there was no phone there either. HELP ME!! I got the girl at the desk to call me a cab. I told her this was the worst place I had ever been and I wasn’t staying.
A nice Black cabby came to my rescue. I told him my sad story and he took me to the Westin near the Convention Center. I asked the desk clerk if they had a room because I was escaping the Bates Motel. She took pity and even found me a discount on my room. SAVED! I fell into the nice clean bed and didn’t worry about being stabbed in the shower.
The next day the only event scheduled was at the Guiding Light Church that evening at 7:00pm so I did what they suggested and went sightseeing. I took a cab to the Civil Rights Museum with a very talkative cabbie named Tony. He was agitated about the government wanting to take his guns. He said towns where most people have guns there is less crime. He said everyone should have a gun. I was in total agreement until …….he then said he thought we needed a woman President and Hillary or Elizabeth would be great. I wondered if he knew who was trying to take his guns??
After visiting the museum and the famous 16th Street Baptist Church across the street, I walked back to my hotel (along the route Martin Luther King took).
There were two Mercedes Benz buses in front of the hotel and when I walked into the lobby there was a group of people wearing Mercury One shirts milling about. I tapped one of them on the shoulder, when he turned around I said, “I know you, you’re Doc Thompson”. I asked him what time the event started. He asked a woman in the group if she had the schedule. She opened hers up and said 2:00pm. Doc said the busses were going to take us there and I could go on the bus…..sooo……I got on the bus. When the bus got on the freeway I realized it wasn’t going where I thought. I looked around and everyone was wearing a gold VIP badge. I was with the group that pays thousands to be VIP’s. I thought, OMG!, I’m going to be SO embarrassed.
This event was for the pastors who had committed to restoring unity and morality. Bishop Lowe opened by saying this was Glenn’s event and he wasn’t going to speak, he was just going to introduce Glenn. An hour later and after saying, “in closing” three times, he introduced Glenn. Glenn said he was going to cover the things the Bishop didn’t………”Good Night!” We laughed and then he talked for hour. The choir sang ( I LOVE gospel choirs) and there was dancing in the aisles. The choir had written a song for the event, “All Lives Matter”. http://nation.foxnews.com/2015/08/29/watch-black-church-choir-birmingham-alabama-sing-all-lives-matter-thousands
When the service was over, I got back on the bus and sat behind the driver. A pretty, young blond getting on the bus looked curiously at me and asked if I was with Mercury One. I said yes (as Mercury One organized this weekend), she asked my name and sat next to me and said she guessed she needed to get me a badge. I said, “Oh, I don’t think that’s the case”. She then turned and talked to Rafael Cruz who was sitting across the aisle from us.
The bus took us to the restaurant used in the movie, “Fried Green Tomatoes” and we had fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, fried okra and peanut butter pie. I had dinner with two couples who have been to all of Glenn’s events as VIP’s. One of the women had a brace on her arm. Her husband said her broken arm wasn’t healing as it should.
After dinner we went back to the Guiding Light Church for the main event of the evening. As we approached there were cars parked along both sides of the road as far as you could see and the parking lot was full. There was a giant screen set up next to the church and there were thousands of people sitting on the lawn.
Our bus pulled up to the front and we VIP’s walked up to the entrance. BUSTED! They wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a badge. Just as I was about to join the crowd and watch from outside, the pretty, young blond rushed up and said, “Oh, sorry, here is your badge”. Who am I to argue? I was then escorted to the second row across the aisle from Glenn and his family and in front of Rafael Cruz and Althea King. Glenn got up and was shaking people’s hands and hugging people. He came over and hugged me and thanked me for coming. I said, “No, no, thank you”.
David Barton spoke first about American exceptionalism. He reminded us we have the oldest Constitution in the World. Since 1776, Korea has had nine constitutions, Poland seven and the same holds true for other countries around the world. He said we were 4% of the population of the world but have had more inventions, patients, ideas and products than all the other countries combined.
He then spoke about the history of ministers, Black and White, in our founding and that they were the ones who gathered men together from their congregations to fight in the Revolutionary war. They were the ones who spoke about politics and the rights God gave us. John Wise in 1680 spoke about taxation without representation, the consent of the governed and all men being created equal. The Sons of Liberty took his sermons and had them reprinted in 1772. David spoke about Wentworth Cheswell, who, along with Paul Revere, road to warn that the British were coming. He was the first Black man to hold elected office and held various offices for 49 years.
David is amazing. He spoke very fast and covered a LOT of information and never paused or said, “umm”. How he remembers all those facts, and names and dates without pausing is beyond my comprehension. Several of the members of Bishop Lowe’s congregation told me they were so impressed by David and that they never knew about the Black pastors or members of Congress he spoke about. There was more singing, there was more dancing, there were little girls cheerleading, “We say, thank you….you say, Jesus”. And hugging broke out all over the place.
Bishop Lowe spoke about how important it was to unite Blacks and Whites to stand against the evil that is undermining our country. He got a lot of criticism for doing this with Glenn but he said he felt moved to do it because it was the right thing to do. Glenn spoke about church attendance being down because our churches have abandoned their purpose. People are hungry for rules to live by, for a moral foundation and churches no longer speak about the evil that we are facing today.
When Christians are being beheaded, burned alive, driven from their homes, their women and children sold into sex slavery, our churches are silent. He said when we are selling baby parts, we will not be held blameless if we don’t stand against it. As we left the church everyone was again hugging and blessing each other.
The next morning was the March. There was breakfast for the VIP’s before the March. You needed a gold wrist band for the march and, of course, I didn’t have one. At breakfast a different woman approached me and asked my name. I thought “busted” again. She asked why I didn’t have a wrist band. I said I never got one. She asked if I had tickets for the Convention Center events and I said I didn’t. The pretty blond came by and asked if I had gotten my tote bag. I sat down at a table. General Boykin joined me. He was one of the only Generals to tell Obama the truth and resign rather than do what he knew was wrong. Another of Glenn’s pals and his wife sat with us and we all talked about the way Islam is being taught to our children in school.
I kept thinking any minute one of those ladies was going to come up and tell me I wasn’t on any of their lists and I couldn’t stay. Instead, one of them brought me the gold wrist band and the other brought me the BIG tote bag full of t-shirts, water bottles, a book on the Civil Rights movement, candies and other goodies.
We were taken by bus to the 16th Street Church where we (the VIP’s) were escorted into the church. There were maybe 50 of us there. Glenn and his wife and his two young children came in and greeted everyone. Glenn was beaming. I think you get a good sense of a person when you see them with their family. His kids would come up and wrap their arms around him and he would smile and stroke their heads. They would climb in his or Tanya’s lap and get a hug. Glenn’s security was everywhere and he was wearing a bullet proof vest. How sad is that?
Everyone was taking pictures. Chuck Norris and his wife were there. Several people who had been part of the Civil Rights movement in the 60’s were there. Rafael Cruz lead us in prayer. The pastor of the 16th Street Church gave us a history of the church and we watched a movie about the bombing and the four teenaged girls killed. Bishop Lowe showed us where he had been when the bomb exploded.
We then went outside and saw the March that had lined up. It stretched as far as you could see. The local newspapers said there were 20,000. The police said more like 30,000. Glenn spoke to the Marchers and Rafael Cruz said a prayer. Althea led everyone singing, “Jesus Loves the Little Children”.
We all joined hands and marched down the same streets Martin Luther King marched. A blimp with “All Lives Matter” on it’s side flew above filming the March. We passed a group dressed in African clothing beating African drums in support. People waved as we passed. I was right behind Glenn and Bishop Lowe. Jeffey, puffing and panting, holding a sign was behind me. A security man with Glenn’s guard dog followed along side. When we reached the Arena, the VIP’s were escorted to a VIP room with drinks and food where we relaxed until the event was to start. The rest of the day you could go into this room and get something to eat or drink. Sandwiches at lunch and after the movie. “Woodlawn” there was a cocktail party with Asian food.
The arena was nearly full. Only the very top of the top tier was empty. The Guiding Light Choir got things rocking. Jon Voight came out and started dancing with the choir. He said gospel music was his favorite.
Johnny Moore, young man in his 30’s had dedicated himself to getting as many Christians out of the Middle East as possible. He had been on Glenn’s show talking about what he had been able to do and Glenn had offered to try to raise a million dollars for his cause. In three days he raised a million. He then said let’s try two million. By the eighth day they had $2.7 million.
There were many speakers and wonderful music. Bishop Lowe and Glenn were the last to speak. Bishop Lowe is a wonderful speaker. In spite of the danger this country is in, he was uplifting and inspirational. He said if our country and our churches wouldn’t stand against evil, we will. He said if God asks who will stand, the entire audience stood and said, “We will”.
Glenn spoke about the war on Christianity and his commitment to help Johnny Moore get as many Christian families out of the Middle East as possible. He wants churches to pledge to sponsor a family. He said he will get them into Mexico and walk them across the border if necessary…..even if he goes to jail. Obama is bringing in hundreds of thousands of Muslims from the Middle East but has refused Christians. Glenn pledged to raise $10 million by Christmas.
The last event was a screening of the Christian movie, “Woodlawn”. It is a true story that happened in Birmingham in the 60’s. Two brothers, Andrew and Jon Erwin, wrote and directed the movie. It takes place in Birmingham after the schools were desegregated. A formerly White high school now had Black football players on their team. The White players fought with the Blacks and tried to get them to quit the team. A young minister came to speak to the players and before the atheist coach’s eyes, he converted the entire team. One young Black player becomes a star player being wooed by ‘Bama’s coach Bryant (played by Jon Voight). It’s a wonderful and entertaining movie that I highly recommend to all when it is released in October.
As we waited in the arena for the movie to start I saw the couple I had dinner with a few rows in front of me. Rafael Cruz came to the woman and gently took her arm in his hands. He spoke to her while holding her arm. Then the two of them bowed their heads and he prayed for her arm to heal. This was a moment few saw but was such a clear view into a man who is the father of, possibly, our next President.
After the movie, the cast and producer and director spoke about the making of the movie. They talked about how hard it is to get Christian movies made, but that the public is hungry for them. They pointed out that “War Room” was the number one movie that weekend.
The young actor, Caleb Castille, who played the star football player is a Birmingham native and was playing football for ‘Bama when he was cast in his first starring role…..his first acting role. He said he owed everything to his father (who was in the audience). He said how important it was to him to have a supportive, loving father.
Kevin Sizemore played Jerry Stearns in the movie. He was brought to tears when he told that Jerry had died during the filming of the movie. Jerry’s family was in the audience and Kevin had them stand.
During the movie there is a scene where the fans in the football stadium light candles in support of the team being allowed to pray. I looked around and all across the arena people had taken out their cell phones and turned on the flashlights. It mirrored the movie.
The next morning the hotel shuttle driver asked why I was in Birmingham. I told him about the event and he said he was so sorry he didn’t know about it because he would have loved to have march with us. He wished me a blessed trip.
As I waited for my plane with my giant tote with “Never Again Is Now” on the side, a pretty Black woman sat beside me and said she was there too. The woman next to her said she had been there too. A couple across from us said they were too. We all exchanged e-mail addresses and names and when we got to Houston had lunch together before we went our separate ways.
It’s comforting to be in the company of SO MANY like minded people.