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My goal is to share encouragement, grace, and hope from God’s Word, and to brighten your day. Mission trips abroad have enlarged my heart and reminded me once again that regardless of our skin color or location we all need a savior, and His name is Jesus. I pray that my articles will lift your spirits and point you to the One who loves you most.

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This Month's Message

Beyond Carnegie Hall
By Fran Caffey Sandin

My husband, Jim, and I visited New York City in 2012 and wanted to find Carnegie Hall. The famous Manhattan music hall, opened in 1891, is internationally known for its outstanding architecture and the destination for some of the world’s finest musical performers. The only tickets available for purchase during our brief visit were for an Italian opera. We didn’t speak Italian, but decided to go.

Since Jim is 6’4” tall, the small, low, crowded seats were tight and uncomfortable in spite of the gorgeous red velvet cushions. We didn’t understand a word in the opera, and the talented female vocalist was somewhat less than inspiring. We loved being there and seeing the hall’s beauty, but the program just wasn’t a good fit for us, so we left during intermission.

On our return plane trip to Dallas, Texas, a handsome young man occupied the window seat. I introduced myself and Matt seemed open and conversational, so we began talking.

Our son, Steve, had recently passed away, and although Matt was younger, I felt motherly toward him and shared about Steve, a brief testimony, and the tract he had written two months before he died-- So What Happens Next. Matt had a pleasant manner and took the tract.

Then he asked me what we did in New York City. I told him about our activities. Then I said, “Oh yes, and we went to Carnegie Hall last night, but it wasn’t great because it was an Italian opera, we couldn’t understand it, and Jim didn’t have room for his long legs, so we left at intermission.

Then I asked Matt, “So what do you do?”

He paused and said with a shy grin, “I’m an opera singer.”

My heart pounded and my face flushed as I anxiously struggled to explain, “The performance was really wonderful—I’m sure it was, but we’re from the country and don’t know much about opera. It was very fine I know—we just couldn’t understand it.”

Matt graciously smiled.

Later I learned the famous tenor singer I had just met, Matthew Grills, from Newtown Connecticut, had recently won the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Lotte Lenya Competition. Having obtained a Master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, he was on his way to audition at the Santa Fe opera, and that’s how he happened to be on the flight to DFW. We parted on a friendly note.

Only a few weeks later Matthew sent an email saying that he grew up near the Sandy Hook Elementary School and was devastated by the mass shooting that took the lives of 20 students and teachers. He and his parents knew some of the families involved and he wanted to know if I had anything to say about it.

I answered right away. “Thank you for contacting me. Jim and I are grieved by the loss of the children and teachers at Sandy Hook. Having experienced the deaths of our two sons, we are well aware of the pain and emptiness you and your friends feel. Young children are precious to God, and I believe they are in Heaven with Him. The Bible tells us we have all sinned but God’s only begotten Son, Jesus, came to earth and took the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross. When we accept his gift of love and forgiveness and trust Him as our Lord and Savior, we can be sure of our eternal destination. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me (John 14: 6).’ The most important decision we make in this life is to believe the truth that not only Christ died but He arose from the dead and His resurrection is the reason for our hope of eternal life. We serve a risen Savior. We live in a fallen world, and until we depart, things happen we cannot explain, like the senseless killing of the innocents. Matt, the most important decision you will make is to accept Jesus into your heart, and I hope you will.” Matt did not respond to my message but I am praying for him.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the divine encounter with Matt. I pray you will bless him with more than worldly success. I am praying he will understand that his gifts and talents are from You, and that he will know the joy of a personal relationship with Jesus. In His name, Amen.