By Vicki Brown, Word&Way Associate Editor
Hannibal — Although "I'm Gonna Sing" was the theme of this year's Booster Banquet at Hannibal-LaGrange College, the hundreds who turned out for the annual event on Nov. 17 only heard one song from an unexpected guest — Guy Penrod.
Internationally known singer-songwriter Gloria Gaither, who was originally scheduled to appear, had to cancel a few weeks earlier. Gather felt she should remain at home with her husband, Bill, while he recuperated from unexpected surgery.
With Gaither's urging, Penrod, lead singer for the Gaither Vocal Band, agreed to step in — as a singer.
"I'm not a speaker. I sing for my supper," he said in his opening remarks.
But Penrod landed in Missouri with a bad case of laryngitis. The singer and a host of HLG staffers prayed that the substitute would at least be able to talk.
Drawing from personal experience, Penrod challenged students in the audience to go ahead and plan a life direction and watch God interrupt the journey.
Noting that he didn't plan to become a singer, the former backup singer for such well-known performers as Garth Brooks and Michael W. Smith challenged students to hone their skills because God would use them.
He didn't set out to cut records or to perform on stage, but he knew he had a gift and honed his musical skills. "Get on a track to earn a living. Get on a path that makes common sense," he said.
"When you're doing something but not what you think God wants, remember that God knows your phone number, your address and what you like to do."
Penrod shared that after finishing a degree in Bible and music at Liberty University, he was called to a church in Atlanta as pastor of special music.
However, when he arrived at the church, he learned that the man in the position had decided to remain. Penrod was told he would teach music in the congregation's Christian school.
He finally decided that if God wanted him to pursue a music career that God would open the doors. "I was just tough enough and hardheaded enough to believe God would do what He wanted," the father of eight said.
"You do whatever is in you," he encouraged listeners, adding that they must commit themselves to serve others with their gifts.
"God's will happens on the journey," he said. "When you're walking...someone will interrupt.... Most of the time it will be in God's will.... God puts those people on your path.
"The will of God will usually happen in the interruptions of life."
Penrod shared the story of how a woman interrupted a fishing trip he and a friend had planned. That interruption led to an agnostic's conversion.
"God has a specific plan for your life.... All He needs for you to do is to give it to Him," Penrod said.
And his voice strengthened just enough to end the evening with an a cappella rendition of "Be Ye Glad." (12-05-06)