A Porter’s Call

I can pretty much say with confidence that I don’t think I would be married or still playing music right now if not for the ministry of Porter’s Call.  Almost a decade ago, I was told by a dear friend that I needed to not only meet, but meet with, a man named Al Andrews.  At the time I was reveling (or spiraling, depending on the day) pretty dramatically in a world of on-the-road-unfamiliar-faces that somehow always seemed to be “impressed” with me, my first legitimate radio “hit” in the form of a song called Great Light of the World, my second headlining tour with sold out shows almost every night, no real sense of home, community, accountability, or structure, and a heart that was depleted, lonely, and spiritless.  My sort of wake-up call was a statement by my brother that was intended to be a compliment, but cut straight to the heart of me…he said, “Bebo, you’re the king of first impressions, people think you’re their best friend the first time they meet you.”  The sad truth was that I couldn’t have told you what a best friend should look like, much less who my best friend might have been, at the time.  I realized in that moment, that I had a lot of people in my world who “loved” me and required absolutely nothing of me.  I could move in and out of any given town on any given night and play a game of touch and go…leaving a lasting first impression a mile wide and an inch deep.  It was hard for me to understand how I could be in the midst of so many people every single night and feel so terribly alone.  I called my manager one night after one of two sold out shows in Portland, OR and told him that I was done with music…that I would finish out the rest of the tour, but I was coming home for good after that.  I had stood on the stage that night in front of an amazing crowd of people who knew all of the words to all of my songs and I had never felt more empty in my entire life.

All the while, there was a successful counselor in Nashville who had given up his thriving private practice for the sake of a non-profit vision that he called Porter’s Call…a counseling service that he wanted to provide absolutely free to any full-time musician/artist in Nashville, along with their families.  He knocked on the front doors of all the major Christian Music Labels and helped them understand that while they were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on their artists to promote the healthy development of their songs, records, and careers, they weren’t spending a dime or a second promoting the healthy development of their hearts.  Much to the credit of several of those major record labels, they allowed Al Andrews the privilege of beginning his vision for Porter’s Call.

Long story short, God used my friend Al Andrews and the ministry of Porter’s Call to open my eyes to the short-sited vision of the unintentionally self-absorbed.  Sitting with Al, I never felt more vulnerable in my entire life, and I never felt more loved.  I fell apart in tears and confession and humility in a way that I don’t know how to explain to you.  My heart was laid bare for the first time in years in a way that wasn’t meant to be performed in a song or spoken through a microphone.  And the ironic thing was that this renewal of my heart made me want to write new songs and sing them for people that might feel just the same way I had.  Every effort I made to quit became a very clear vision of why I should not – made clear to me through the lens of this beautiful ministry called Porter’s Call.  It was also clear to me that things had to be different…that I needed accountability and consistency, that God created us to draw life from community and good counsel rather than compliments and good opinions from even the most well intended stranger.

I had met a girl during this time who, in the most refreshing way, was not impressed with me…or rather, was not impressed with who I appeared to be on the surface, but was smitten with who I seemed to be underneath.  She was different than anyone I had ever met.  And even as I fell deeply in love with her, I inadvertently seemed to attempt to run and ruin the depth of our relationship…because I had grown accustomed to a mile wide and an inch deep, to arm’s distance, to touch and go.  But Al Andrew’s wouldn’t allow it be easy for me…he wouldn’t allow it be simple.  Because God doesn’t allow it to be easy and simple.  The hidden hand of love is risk.

Here I am nearly a decade later, still writing songs and playing music…and that girl is now my wife of 7 years (Al Andrews co-performed our marriage ceremony).  We have two beautiful little boys and I have tears in my eyes at this very moment thinking of what I nearly walked away from.  But for the grace of God and his work through Porter’s Call I dare say that I would not now be experiencing the richness and the goodness of these two precious things…my family and my songs.

Nearly every Christian musician that I know here in Nashville has been deeply affected by the ministry of Porter’s Call.  That’s seriously not an exaggeration…and the ministry has grown infinitely and has even broken into the realm of Country music.  I wish I could name to you all the marriages that have been saved and hearts that have been healed but in the interest of discretion and privacy I will not.  That’s why you most likely have never even heard of Porter’s Call…it is a private and safe place that rests by design outside of the spotlight for the benefit of those whose calling places them directly in the spotlight.  Needless to say, I am thankful to God right now for such a safe place, a refuge really, not only for myself but for countless musicians like me that all to often find themselves lost and undone even in the middle of something they feel God has called and compelled them to do.

**The primary reason I’m writing about Porter’s Call on this specific day is to raise awareness of the PORTER’S CALL AUCTION fundraiser that is taking place RIGHT NOW and will run for the rest of this week, until it closes THIS SATURDAY (9/18).  Dozens of artists and musicians like myself have donated instruments, memorabilia, and even private concerts to be auctioned off on eBay this week for the benefit of the non-profit ministry of Porter’s Call.  I am personally auctioning one of the guitars from my private collection – this guitar was originally auctioned for Haiti Relief and sold for an incredible $51,100.  AMAZINGLY, after the winner of the auction piad in FULL to the Compassion Haiti Relief Fund, they had only one request…that we keep the guitar and auction it again for another cause that was dear to our hearts.  The time has come, and that cause is the ministry of Porter’s Call!  For more info, click here:

http://www.bebonorman.com/news/guitarauction


33 Responses

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  • Elise Austell wrote on September 13, 2010

    I loved this blog! How dear Al Andrews is to me and Glenn too. You know I would not be alive without his wisdom and guidance. I love that you are a part of building his dream and continuing to make it a reality. He truly is the wise old man for so many. Priceless! I am so glad Glenn will have the weekend with you. He is so excited which thrills me. I'll be looking for y'all on Game Day. Glenn is going to borrow Will's CJ Spiller jersey so as to get some face time on ESPN. Who wouldn't want to see that on national TV?! I love you and your precious family. When you think of it or see him next, please give my love to Al too. Tell him I have more hope than I have had in a very long time and you know just what that means. Elise


  • James wrote on September 14, 2010

    That's amazing. THanks for sharing the story! I can definitely relate to being a mile wide and inch thick. It was my natural tendency to live, growing up on the superficial level, like you said on compliments from strangers. That was until God showed himself to me and I guess I was born again. Still i have a battle with "just telling people something good and they'd like to hear which'd go nice" over the sometimes hard truth which might hurt, but is really good for the person. But this was good reminder of how empty and husky a superficial life is, living off your ego, and I'm jazzed to hear how you and your wife got together. Wonderful story and she seems like a wonderful person. May God bless you! You and your family are in my prayers, James


  • Sheri wrote on September 19, 2010

    Hi Bebo, Thanks for sharing this experience. Funny, God has had me on a journey to heal from the same things you described for about 6 years now. Your song, Where the Angels Sleep, has been instrumental in convicting me of my compulsion to run at the first sign of love or my rising desire to be vulnerable. Anyway, don't know where the writing of this song came into the story you shared but it has been a nightly dose of truth and hope for me. It's some extra light to keep me from slipping back into my well justified refusal to share the real me and participate in my part of the bigger story. Thank you. Sheri


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