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|Remembering The "Man In Black"||09/18/2003|
"I'm not here tonight to exalt Johnny Cash or James Robison. I'm standing here as an entertainer, as a performer, as a singer who is supporting the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm here to invite you to listen to the good news that will be laid out for you, to analyze it, and see if you don't think it's the best way to live."I remember that night at the old Birdville Stadium near Fort Worth, Texas, when a capacity crowd heard Johnny perform Man In Black, I Walk The Line and other songs from his album Gospel Road. I listened to Johnny sing and he listened to me preach. We both rejoiced when almost 2,000 people responded to the invitation at the end of the meeting.
Johnny Cash was my friend. He held our oldest daughter in his lap in our living room when she was about 10 years old. He sang and testified of his love for God and the grace he had experienced. He was the first to talk about the need for deliverance and the reality of the invisible realm of darkness. Johnny Cash wore black in remembrance of the neglected, the forgotten, and the overlooked. He cared about people.
I was close to his mother -- "Mama Cash," we called her. She loved us so much. She was thrilled that Johnny and I were friends. He even said it was her heart's desire that he become our singer, and travel with me to crusades throughout the world. But he had another line to walk, a different train to ride.
Johnny Cash struggled throughout his life, but he never gave up. He grew up poor in rural Arkansas where "Jesus was our Savior -- cotton was our king." He suffered through tragedy, divorce and addiction. He fought his personal demons and won.
In 1958, after coming out of a dark period in his life, Johnny wrote the song My Prayer.
Lead me, Father, with your staff of life,
Through it all, Johnny had a heart for people and, I'm convinced, a heart for God. I prayed with him when his young son was nearly killed in a jeep accident. We prayed over the telephone as he stood by his son's side in the hospital. Johnny loved his wife and family dearly. He learned to handle his success -- the money, wealth and fame -- but never forgot those who helped him get there. And he never forgot those he'd left behind. Johnny was the working man's hero, the ordinary man who wouldn't let life get him down.
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