So, I realized this morning that I had never really told the whole story about how the Guitar Auction for Haiti Relief ended up even happening in the first place, much less how unbelievable it ended up ending up. It actually started all because of Twitter. Go figure. I have historically been guilty of arguing at length about the ills of social networking – how it is can often times be a counterfeit and even a distraction to real face-to-face community, how it can spread us too thin relationally, etc, etc. Just ask my friend Keely Scott (KeelyMarieScott.com or @keelymarie on twitter) – we went back and forth over this for months – I think she hated me there for a little while. And although I now see the light, at least “through a glass darkly” (actually, I still think those ills can be very true but, like most all good things, when used in moderation, social networking can be a really good way to connect) it seems fitting that God would use the very thing I scorned for so long to do such a beautiful work for the people of Haiti. Anyway, Roshare and I decided to make a matching pledge offer to my followers on twitter, mostly just to raise awareness…so for a certain amount of time, for every person who retweeted (RT in twitter speak, “forwarded” to the rest of us) our link to Compassion’s Haiti Relief Fund to their own Twitter followers, the Normans offered to give a $5 donation to the fund. We had hoped to have a response of 200-300 figuring a couple thousand bucks is about all we could manage to give right now. Long story short, we realized pretty quickly that we had GROSSLY underestimated the power of social networking, especially in light of the events going on in Haiti. Overwhelming response. Within a few hours we had over a thousand retweets, and it just skyrocketed up from there. Cool as it was, we were freaking out in the Norman household because we knew there was no way we could afford to match all that. So in an effort to at least try to honor our commitment and maybe raise a little more awareness in the process, we decided to put one of my personal guitars (a guitar builder in Atlanta named Kent Everett had built it for me as a gift 10 years ago) up for a 7-day auction on eBay with 100% of the proceeds going to Compassion’s Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti. So, I signed it, described the guitar and listed a handful of songs that I had written on it in the auction listing, and we posted it – hoping MAYBE we could get a few zealous fans to bid it up to around $5000. The folks from Radio and Publicity at my record label (BEC) got wind of what was going on, and wanted to help however they could – so they decided to put together “a few” interviews over the next couple of days. The response from radio stations all around the country was also through the roof, so I ended up doing about 35-40 interviews over the next couple of days. About halfway through the week of the auction we had met already met our goal (really cool!) and then a day later it had doubled to $10,000 with a ton of folks still bidding!! It was pretty clear once the auction got past this point that this wasn’t about a guitar anymore. I had said over and over in my interviews that I hoped that this guitar could just be a good excuse for someone who might happen to have deep pockets, and an even deeper heart, to give to a cause as worthy as the people of Haiti through an organization as trustworthy as Compassion. And that’s exactly what happened. Fast forward to the last night of the auction. With less than an hour left, about 5 or 6 bidders were still fighting it out and had the bidding up to $20,000. Needless to say, Roshare and I were completely blown away at this point, but we could’ve never imagined what was coming. Over the next 45 minutes or so, two bidders sort of rose to the top, went back and forth in $100 increments (minimum bid) and had the bidding all the way up to $31,000…again, quite literally freaking out in the Norman household. And then absolutely out of nowhere, what ultimately ended up being the winning bidder, who hadn’t placed a single bid up to this point, mind you, made their first bid with 1 minute, 31 seconds left – $31,100. To attempt to describe that last minute and a half in our house would be laughable – I mean, the flurry of “hit the refresh button” and jaws dropping and joyful laughter mixed with nervous laughter mixed with utter disbelief. In that last minute and a half of the auction, the last two remaining bidders took the auction payout up to $51,100. Absolutely insane.
I emailed with the winner for several days after the auction closed – what seem to be a really sweet-hearted eccentric couple who were just excited to be able to give and requested to remain anonymous. They knew a LITTLE about my music, but had heard one of my radio interview on Sirius/XM and really just loved the idea and the cause. They paid in full to Compassion a few days later. And the coolest part? Their only request was that I keep the guitar. They want me to either keep writing on it, or put it back up for auction and see if we can’t raise some more money. Unbelievable.
I know this will probably sound melodramatic, but the depth to which I have been effected by this story is difficult to describe. I feel like I’ve seen so many things in it. I wrote about part of that in my “Nothing Less” blog back on January 20th, but, again, that was only a small piece of the story. I think mostly the word that keeps coming back to mind is overabundance. God’s willingness, the pleasure he seems to take, in providing with absolute overabundance.