Paster Parker   by Suzanne Nielsen

Pastor Parker fanned his weary face with an abandoned program from the evening’s HIM-spiration. “I hoped to bring at least fifty forward tonight,” he said to his deacons. “Sure hope tomorrow night God speaks to several.”

“How you gonna get the word out if you can’t hear it?” chimed in Mission Stephens, a sound man, paid by the hour. “Lord’s my witness, Pastor. Your praise band’s gone dead.”

Mission came to Fall on Your Knees Baptist Church with two goals in mind: selling his personal gospel cd and providing grace through the speakers he carried in his paneled van. The congregation made up of 650+ members, sat on the border of South Dakota and Minnesota, in a swanky little area of Sioux Falls. Every summer the church captured the attention of vacationers on their way to Mitchell to see the Corn Palace with their inflatable Jesus flown 50 stories in the air, run on a hydraulic fan and propane. Although the energy bill spent to operate Jesus lay a burden in August, Pastor Parker felt obligated to keep it up and running 24-hours-a-day during the summer months as it was donated by Inez Charpelle’s family when she passed in 1991. The floating Jesus could be seen from miles away, reminiscent of the Hindenburg floating mysteriously in space. Mission followed it one day and landed at the church with dollar signs for pupils as he stopped in to sell his cd’s early one morning in May, 1994. Pastor Parker asked Mission how much he wanted for his cd’s. Mission had prepared for that ahead of time by taping an index card to the inside of the cd case which read: $7.00 cash, $14.00 personal checks.

In a moment of weakness, Pastor Parker agreed to keep six copies of Mission’s cd in the church lobby on consignment, but wasn’t interested in Mission’s speakers. Mission hung around and two weeks later, all six copies of Mission’s cd were sold. He’d donated the money to the June fundraiser to help pay for Jesus spot in the sky.

The Friday night Him-spiration wasn’t as well attended as Pastor Parker would have liked it to be, partly due to the unfortunate heat wave that swept through the Falls, partly due to the fact that the praise band needed to be born again. “Let me hook up them speakers from my van, Pastor P. It’ll have people running for salvation.”

After spending the rest of the night connecting the new sound system, Pastor P and Mission were set to plug it in the next morning and bring down the house that evening. “Okay, let her go,” said Mission, eager to hear his demo cd bellow out across the town. On the count of three…the electricity blew, but that’s not all that blew. Jesus, high up from 50 stories, thrust forth a KABOOM! that nearly flattened the Corn Palace some 40 miles away, then evaporated.

The moral of this story: a soundman is not necessarily a sound man.