It’s Sunday afternoon and I am sitting in the back garden enjoying the perfect weather. The skies are absolutely clear and the temp is somewhere around 80 degrees. This is the weather that I prayed for . . . for yesterday! The day before was our third annual Jazz Fest, an outdoor concert and barbecue to raise funds for Our Little Roses, a girl’s orphanage in Honduras. Halfway through Jazz Fest, rain began to drizzle and then continued through the night. I lament over the date that I chose for the event and ruminate over all the opportunities that fair weather would have brought. If the weather had been nice, we would have had more guests. We would have made so much more money. The labor of set up and break down would have been so much easier. It was hard not to slip into disappointment.
As I contemplated the low ticket sales, I wondered if anyone in the history of Christian event planning could ever have been discouraged by a rainy event. Billy Graham was actually asked this question during his last Crusade in Kansas City in 2004, that was plagued by rain. The stadium in Kansas City holds 78,000 and only 7,780 attended. In an interview that night, Graham recalled a Crusade that was held in the rain in London’s Wembly Stadium that attracted 60,000 people a night and 100,000 for the last meeting. I can hear Mr. Graham saying, “It’s not about the rain.”
On Saturday night, I asked myself, “Why would anyone leave their warm, dry home to come to rainy, cold Jazz Fest?” Yet, people came! And, they came happily. The excitement surrounding the Silent Auction was contagious and people held umbrellas over the bid sheets as they protectively watched their high bid. The crowd outside enjoyed the fantastic band, The Brian Sutherland Trio, through the last set and cheered for more. This crowd was beyond generous. The bidding war over two bottles of Scotch and a box of cigars was spectacular, and might have run a close race for spectator thrill with the Kentucky Derby. With energy and smiles, the staff worked heroically from 3 p.m. until midnight, ending the night by loading the truck with chairs and tables in the pouring rain.
Our first year of Jazz Fest was an impressive success, and I accounted it to the flawless weather. WRONG! People come to the Jazz Fest because they care about Our Little Roses and are faithful to supporting the Mission Team that travels to Honduras every year. The food, the fun, the music, is all a bonus. I know the people that come to Jazz Fest. They have fun, whatever, wherever. I love that about this group. And, they have taught me a lot about faith: faith in a God that always provides, always protects, and always reveals joy. There is no Fail or Succeed in event planning based on the weather. It’s about finding God’s blessing in what we do, how we do it, and appreciating the people that He sends to us.
At the end of Saturday evening I finally had a chance to speak with Brian Sutherland and thank him for the fabulous music. His band played for free at the Jazz Fest, however, our happy guests paid them with praise and thanks (and a few bills in their tip jar). I am overwhelmed that we could have such a great band for the event, and that our guests were not only generous to Our Little Roses, but also had plenty to spare to thank the band. Brian approached me with a request to host a house party next fall to announce their new CD. So, get ready for another great party at Peachtree House, rain or shine!