A Final Tribute to Roger Breland and TRUTH
From the Cluttered Desk... May 19, 2002 Volume 48, Edition 18
ON SUNDAY NIGHT, June 16th, in Franklin, Tennessee, the last chapter will ‘officially’ be written on this long and blessed ministry. Only the Lord knows when the last chapter will really be written. Over the last 31 years, I’ve been in over 200 TRUTH concerts. Anything you’ve done that much, impacts your life.
IT AL STARTED with a young Minister of Music in Mobile, Alabama. God put a vision in his heart and he followed God’s call. Most would have taken the easy road, the path of least resistance. Roger and Linda didn’t. With the blessings of a beautiful wife, Roger hit the road to follow God’s call. Most would have said, “I can be successful in the local church, why take a step of faith?” Roger took the road less traveled and traveled it for thirty-one years and three million miles. In the process of building a successful ministry, he also maintained a successful marriage and raised three wonderful, godly sons. Some think you can’t have both. Roger proved them wrong.
IT’S NOT BEEN EASY. The stage is only a small part of the ministry. It’s been a financial challenge from day one. It’s been a road of broken down buses, flat tires, wrecked trucks, truck stops, all night drives and cold showers. This road has taken them to the great concert halls and churches of America. It’s also taken them to small churches with 35 people present. Wherever the road ended up, there was one thing you could count on, TRUTH would do their best.
SACRIFICES WERE REQUIRED and made. People didn’t understand this “new music.” I doubt if thirty years ago anyone could fully realize the impact of this ministry. Andrae Crouch, Bill Gaither and a host of other song writers owe a debt of gratitude for Roger Breland taking their music and bringing it to us.
ROGER BRELAND, more than any other person in America, influenced churches and Ministers of Music to add praise teams and bands to their worship services. He raised the standard of excellence. You couldn’t host TRUTH and then do the “same old stuff” the next Sunday. He stretched the rubber band. At the same time, he never gave up on the church. Roger was the first to show us that God has a plethora of musical instruments. Roger Breland was willing to be misunderstood and even criticized for cutting a path through uncharted waters.
HAS ROGER EVER been given the credit he deserves? No. Has he been criticized for being a risk taker? Yes. Christians are funny people. They throw rocks at the great men and women of God while they are alive and build monuments to them when they are gone. Roger Breland has taken his share of criticism. All because he had the guts and gumption to do what God said and carry out his vision. Meanwhile the critics in the music business sat safely on their 401K’s, in their plush offices and drank their cappuccino.
TODAY, if you study the last thirty years of contemporary Christian music, you’ll see the mark of Roger Breland everywhere you turn. When the Gaither’s toured in the late 70's many in their band and their back up singers were former TRUTH people. One half of the popular group “Avalon” is made up of TRUTH alums. There would be no 4HIM if Roger Breland hadn’t put those four distinct voices together. Alicia has impacted churches and women’s conferences across America - another TRUTH alum. Steve Green is a TRUTH alum. Dick and Mel Tunney met and married in TRUTH. Anthony Evans just backed up Kirk Franklin on the Tonight Show. Another alum. Wes Tuttle, a major player with Integrity Music - a former TRUTH member. The list is endless and the names are known throughout the music industry.
WHAT ABOUT ONE HUNDRED former TRUTH people serving in local churches as pastors and ministers of music? What about 60 musicians playing in Nashville, all former TRUTH people! Who discovered those folks? Roger Breland. Where did they get their first break? TRUTH.
TRUTH TAUGHT US that it wasn’t about style, it was about the message. After sixty albums and over 600 songs, there was only one message, Jesus Christ. That message has been faithfully shared around the world. I would say, before someone criticizes Roger Breland and TRUTH, they should get on a bus for over 300 days a year, travel to Romania, Russia, Brazil, the Philippines and Africa. They should hug a few lepers and visit a Romanian orphanage. The critics don’t have the guts to do what Roger had a passion to do. It’s easier to sit in an ivory tower than a mud hut.
SOMEONE CAME to D.L. Moody one day and said, “I don’t like your method of evangelism.” Moody asked, “What is your method?” The person replied, “I don’t really have one.” Moody responded, “I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it!” I like Roger’s approach. He served the church to reach the world. He’s one of the last ones to leave after a concert. Roger taught good musicians how to be good churchmen.
IT’S A SAD TIME FOR ME. I’m down to my last TRUTH concert. No more phone calls to Roger asking, “Where are you?” At the same time, my mind is flooded with great memories, lovely moments and unforgettable experiences. I have great friends as a result of TRUTH. Roger has been an incredible friend and encourager through the years.
JUST AS VANCE HAVNER, Ron Dunn and others have shaped my life, Roger Breland and TRUTH have been a part of my life for 31 of my 49 years. It’s been my privilege to speak at their 20th and 25th reunion. I’ve been honored to speak on three TRUTH cruises. I’ve been blessed to do countless prayer rooms prior to a concert. I’ve had the joy of being able to speak to TRUTH during three rehearsal camps.
ROGER, THANK YOU. Thanks for the songs, the memories, and for giving me the opportunity to have a small part in the ministry. Thanks to you and Linda for being our friends. Thanks for the laughs. Thanks for the chance to pray with you and for you. Thanks for praying for us through the years. Thanks for believing in me when others didn’t. Thanks for fulfilling God’s call on your life. Thanks for being a part of God’s call in my life. I love you more than you’ll ever know. Thanks for letting me be a small part. Thanks for the memories.