More than once I heard my father, Brock Speer, say that when fishing for lost souls, the Speer Family used music to bait the hook. The truth of this was broader than he could know, for there were two songs in particular that changed me personally. When I was about 9 years old, the Speers performed at a revival for a Nazarene church in Trenton, Ohio. On the last night, Daddy sang “He Touched Me,” and Uncle Ben sang “Until You’ve Known the Love of God.” The Holy Spirit’s moving during that service prompted me to walk the aisle and kneel at the altar to accept Christ. I am just one of the many who came to have a personal relationship with Jesus because of the music of the Speers.

Although I wasn’t there, Daddy told the story of their first performance of “The King is Coming,” written by Bill and Gloria Gaither and Chuck Milhuff. At the Iowa Nazarene Camp Meeting, Dr. Milhuff preached a message on the Second Coming, followed by the Speers singing “The King is Coming.” Brock said when Dr. Milhuff gave the altar call, people swarmed the front to “pray through.” But it didn’t end there. After folks did business with God, the altar cleared and they sang the song again. Another wave of people came forward. This went on for several more cycles; they had never seen anything like the outpouring of the Spirit that happened there.

Though the ministry of the Speer Family was real and extensive, there were a lot of good times and funny things that happened on the road. Before my time, the Speers and the Oak Ridge Boys worked many dates together and were relentless in the pranks they pulled on each other, with the Oaks doing more of the pranking. While the Speers were on stage one evening, Duane Allen went to a local bait shop, bought hundreds of live crickets and emptied them in the driver’s window of the Speers’ bus. Ben said it took them weeks to get rid of them, all while the chirping drove them crazy.

My mother, Faye Speer, always said that Brock’s kids could be dying in the next room, and he could sleep through it, but if one little hiccup happened to the bus, Brock would be wide awake. Once, after a very costly engine overhaul, the Oak Ridge Boys waited until the Speers were on stage and dumped a quart of oil under the engine of the Speers’ bus to see Brock’s reaction about more engine difficulties. When they showed Brock, he nearly had a heart attack right there! Many fond memories of those days of laughter and fun still fill our conversations.

I played guitar for the group between 1978 and 1982. During one concert in Canada, we noticed an older, dignified woman on the second row. I use the word dignified, but she never smiled, and even grimaced during the entire concert. She stuck her fingers in her ears on several occasions, and at one point, made a great theatrical gesture of pulling long pieces of cotton out of her purse and stuffing them in her ears — scowling all the while.

During the encore, Harold Lane’s “I’m Standing on the Solid Rock,” she pulled out a pair of orange airline worker’s hearing protectors and put them on her head. We all got tickled on stage, except for Ben, who was playing piano with his back to her side of the audience. Our laughing made him turn to see what was so funny. When he saw her, he immediately jumped up from the piano, ran to her, and pulled the protectors off her head. He put them on HIS head, and ran back to the piano. Later, he said he could only hear the thump of the bass guitar, but he never missed a note for the rest of the song. The music pastor, who had been putting up with this lady’s protests of loud music for years, got so tickled he slid onto the floor in a laughing fit.

Though it is easy to get tickled during the upbeat songs, the funny things that happen during the serious songs are the most memorable. One night during a beautiful song of redemption, called “The Brush” by Chuck Milhuff, Uncle Ben walked from the stage and made his way toward the end of the altar to sit and deliver this powerful song. As he pulled the rail out to sit, the altar came apart in his hand. He held it up to see what damage he had done, then stuck the piece back where it came from, and that is when I got tickled. I laughed so hard I cried, and had to bow my head in order to finish the song, while tears ran down my face and across my guitar.

Hopefully, you can see that this has been a great life, and I consider myself blessed to have lived it. I now travel with Allison and am still learning valuable lessons from my family who traveled the road before me. Just after Daddy died in 1999, I was negotiating with a promoter about money. Around that time, I read an article from a pastor who wrote of having the Speers at his small church’s homecoming. The pastor was nervous about having them, but was very happy with the concert. After the service, he handed Brock a check for the agreed amount. As he walked away, Brock called him back and asked him to rewrite the check for half the amount because Daddy wanted to “sow into the church’s ministry” in a tangible way. When I read that, I cried. The calling on the lives of the Speer Family was more powerful than the power of money. My dad proved that the generations of ministry of the Speers was God’s kingdom work.

Faye is still living in the same home she and Daddy purchased in 1960, and she continues to be active in her church. Ben is still singing with the Homecoming crowd and does occasional dates with Allison. Rosa Nell is 90 and seems to always be on Facebook! She still plays piano every Sunday for her local church. And while Mary Tom’s mind has dimmed, she still remembers the words and harmony to Dad Speer’s songs, “Heaven’s Jubilee” and “Sweeter Each Day.”

The older we get, the more we become aware of words like heritage and legacy, and I am no different. From 1921 to 1998, my family had a singing group on the road, continually. Their ministry has affected countless lives for the glory of God. One day, recently, a lady came to me after a concert and spoke of how her dad had taken her family to a Speer Family concert. As teens, there were many other things they wanted to attend instead of the gospel concerts, but he made them go along. On the way home, he sang along with Speer Family songs on cassette and was singing them the next morning as he drove away to work. He was killed in an auto accident that morning. Through tears, she expressed how comforting it was to know that her dad had left this earth singing songs of heaven, the music he loved, the songs of the Speer Family

Though a new generation of faithful Speer servants is now spreading the gospel through music, the kingdom building Mom and Dad Speer started in 1921 is still affecting lives today.