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Gospel veterans Rance Allen Group to perform

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Something about the name Jesus: Steve, Rance and Tom Allen of the Rance Allen Group (Photograph courtesy The Rance Allen Group via Adrienne Arsht Centre of Miami)

After deciding to bring one of his favourite gospel acts to Bermuda, Donal Smith was told it could take up to two years before the group became available.

Mr Smith trusted in God to make a way, and then suddenly a vacancy in the Rance Allen Group’s schedule opened up.

The award-winning performers will be on island tonight for a special dinner and concert at the Fairmont Southampton, starting at 6.30pm.

Mr Smith said: “The inspiration behind this event came when listening to Bishop Rance Allen’s song I Stood On The Banks of Jordan.

“It’s such a powerful song and the message really resonated with me, so much so I decided to look into whether we could attract them, one of the biggest names in gospel to Bermuda.

“The Rance Allen Group have won awards for their music and performed in front of President Barack Obama.

“I reached out to their team and they said the group wouldn’t have availability for 24 months, but I kept calling month after month and now just a few short months later they will be coming here to bless the island with their music.”

In addition to the headliners, Carnegie Hall performer Anthony Whigham, dubbed the Luther Vandross of Gospel Music, will take to the stage, as well as local artists the 3D-T Band, Rickeesha Binns and Toni Robinson.

“It’s going to be great,” Mr Smith said. “We are going to be serving people a delicious three-course meal at the Fairmont Southampton and there will be violins playing while they eat their dinner. Then, after the local performers, we will have an awards presentation where we honour three bishops who have led the way and laboured in order to make their mark for the Lord.

“These bishops will be handed appreciation awards for what they have been able to do on their sojourn on this Earth. Following that, we will go into the main act.”

It was his prayer for people to leave feeling “refreshed, revived and renewed” and he hoped attendees would grow even more committed to carrying out their work for Jesus Christ.

“The entire line-up is intended to give honour to God for all He has done, not only for me and my family, but for all believers in Bermuda,” he explained. “I’m not talking about any particular person; be they black, white, Portuguese or Filipino, but everyone who is willing to trust, believe and put their hand in His.

“One day, our time on earth will be done. We don’t know exactly when that time will be, unless God has spoken to us directly, but we have to do our part to be ready.”

Mr Smith, the host of Christian radio programme Spiritual Connotations (which runs each Sunday night on Hott 107.5FM at 7pm) grew up faithfully attending Sunday School.

Mr Smith has vivid memories of attending the Flatts Pentecostal Church, led by Pastor Marjorie Trott, and while the teachings there were strict. He said it provided him with a “good, solid foundation in the faith”.

“A lot of people say they are Christians, but their behaviour doesn’t line up,” he said. “The truth is we were all made in God’s image.

“What God has for you is yours, but you have to make your own decision on which way you are being led to climb the steps to go up to Zion.

“It’s a personal choice, so your walk with God also has to be personal. It can’t be your grandmother’s or your father’s. You have to put in the work to get to know God for yourself.”

“Everyone alive today has purpose to their life, he said, and it’s our job as believers to figure out what assignment God wants us to do.

“We have 122 churches in this country and people just go to church, not to edify themselves and the next person, but out of habit,” he said.

“The church has to be in your spirit. You really should want nothing else during your time on earth, but to fulfil the will of God, pass the baton and encourage the next person that may not be doing as well as you.”

Through his weekly radio programme, Mr Smith aims to point people towards the truth in the scriptures, so that they might have a better understanding of who God is.

“People say what I talk about is so ‘on time’. Even pastors and bishops, when they are not in church, they tune in to listen to me on Sunday evenings,” Mr Smith said. “I’ve even heard of cases of bars and clubs tuning in. It has been said that we’ve had over 17,000 listeners since February of this year.

“The success of the programme is due to me sharing directly from the word of God.

“I call it the B I B L E — Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. It’s essential to our livelihood. If you are not spending time with God daily, it’s like eating stale bread. It won’t fully nourish and sustain you and your relationship won’t be fresh.”

Mr Smith encouraged people of all ages to attend tonight’s event.

He said: “It’s going to be a great night of great music and fellowship where we reverence the Spirit of the Living God. There’s something on the plate for everyone.

“You get your appetiser with the local acts, as well as your main course with Anthony Whigham. Then the Rance Allen Group will be like your dessert for the night.”

Doors open at 6pm. Tickets, $160, are available at Music Box, Hott 107.5 and ptix.bm. For more information call 536-7830 or 533-7480

A great night of music: Donal Smith