Twenty-three years ago my father was finally persuaded to come see the Christian musical drama “The Promise” at the Texas Amphitheater here in Glen Rose.
It was like pulling teeth to get him here. Even with his two grandchildren having various roles in the show, he was reluctant to attend because as he said ”I’ve seen all those type pageants before.”
In reality I believe it was because he didn’t want to be confronted with anything “religious.”
Nevertheless, in September 1996, my dad relented and attended The Promise. It was a life-changer for him. He could not get over seeing his grandson Charles and granddaughter Noelle on stage in such a grand production. He’d never seen such a “pageant” in all his 74 years.
From start to finish, he was fully engaged in the songs, characters and message. But of all the actors and portrayals in the show, there was one man that really got to my dad.
That character was the Apostle Peter, played by a local resident named Allen.
“Peter” was rough around edges, unkempt, boisterous, and impulsive to a fault, the antithesis of the type of guy I figured my dad would be drawn to.
Yet, after the show, there was Allen, with long scruffy hair and beard, standing there talking to my dad up on the grass landing of the amphitheater where cast members and audience mingle. It was strange seeing my straitlaced dad befriending such a character. I’d never seen that before.
My widowed father became a regular at The Promise for the next several years and was Allen’s biggest fan. Whenever Allen was about to act out his scene in “Peter’s Song,” my dad would lean over to me and whisper, “Here he comes. I love this part.”
It was Allen’s passion, emotion, sincerity, believability in his rendition of the song that touched my dad. Though he could not identify with Peter’s outward shabby appearance, he was identifying with Peter’s inner struggles, numerous faults, the desire to do right while still doing wrong, and the crying out to the Lord for help and forgiveness.
Maybe something that we all could identify with.
Over time my dad and Allen became more than friends, they became brothers in Christ. So much so that, whenever the time may come, my father made it known he wanted Allen to sing at his memorial service.
That time did come some 10 years later, and Allen played piano and sang Kris Kristofferson’s song “Why Me Lord?” — lyrics that spoke the true sentiments of my believing father’s last years on earth.
Fast forward to present day where I’ve recently learned that Allen, who lives in East Texas, is battling stage 4 prostate cancer. The prognosis is not good. We’ve talked on the phone, and I told him more of what he meant to my dad. He knew some but not all.
As our conversation was winding down, we cried a bit as we reminisced how the Good Lord providentially brought them together, and the eternal good that came from their friendship.
I’ll always be grateful for how Allen used his talents to reach out to my dad (and I’m sure countless others) in need of hearing the Good News.
Thank you, Allen, my dear brother, for answering the call.
Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.