By Sherrie Norris
When the four members of Joyful Noise, a local music group, made it back home to Watauga County in early March, after an eventful mission trip to the Philippines, it was with a collective sigh of relief “Everyone on our team made it home safely —by the merciful grace of God,” said Paula May. “We are so amazed by the numbers of souls saved during our time in the Philippines! Literally, thousands accepted Christ in the nightly tent meetings, and hundreds in the high schools, middle schools, jails/prison, and military and police departments. The precious people in the Philippines are hungry for the truth of the gospel, and the doors are open for Christians to share it.”
The group was in the Philippines, on the island of Negros. at the invitation of Bible Baptist Church in La Carlota, and its pastor, Edgar Nono, who they had come to know and love during his earlier visits to the Boone area.
They took part in the 29th City-Wide Tent Revival Campaign in La Carlota which was described by the host church as having marked “another historical milestone as we witnessed another modern-day Pentecost in the middle of a sports field.”
The revival meeting was scheduled for three consecutive days – February 27 to March 1 –with preachers Derek Collins of Gethsemane Baptist Church, Arkansas, and Andrew McCay of Middle Tennessee Baptist Church, Tennessee, delivering the messages. They were joined by Joyful Noise Singers and the New Beginnings Baptist Church Orchestra from Bacolod City.
During the daytime, a Bible study/conference was held at the church compound of La Carlota Metro Bible Baptist Church, attended by various pastors and workers coming from Cebu, Bacolod and nearby cities.
“We were all there to share the gospel in schools, jails, and other organizations during the day,” said May. “In the evenings, we helped with a series of huge tent revival meetings.”
There were two services each night, with the first for all the people who want to come hear about Jesus, May described. “Thousands came from all around, many walking, or using any conveyance possible. The second service each night was for churches and believers, basically revival and encouragement services. We sang and the preachers preached, as Americans draw many in.
The members of the music group, who also took Bibles to distribute, all admitted that they were “humbled to be a small part of it all, adding that they were treated “very kindly, overall, and felt welcomed on the island of Negros, especially by the people of Bible Baptist Church, extension churches, and Pastor Nono and his family.
In addition to Stanley Wilson’s harrowing experience (see accompanying story), group member Charlene Norris was seriously injured after falling from the van in which they travelled.
“On Sunday night, March 5, after attending and singing at four services, we returned in a van to the mission house where we were staying in La Carlota,” said May. “Charlene was one of the last to exit the van, and as she reached out for the support handle, she slipped and missed the handle and fell out of the van, onto some rough pavement. She landed first on her right ankle and rolled it, causing her to twist and fall hard on the ground on her left side. We knew she was seriously injured, we just did not know how badly. We were able to help her up and eventually into the mission house.”
A call was placed to the daughter of their host, Pastor Nono, a pediatrician, who responded immediately and offered needed medical attention, with advice to see a specialist as soon as possible.
The next morning, Monday, Norris was taken for x-rays, with assistance from a nurse who attended the church.
“We learned that Charlene’s shoulder and elbow were both clearly broken and her ankle badly sprained and possibly broken. The good news is that the x-rays only cost a total of $25.”
Monday afternoon, their physician friend arranged an appointment for Norris at the hospital in Bacalod with an orthopedist.
“He made a cast for her ankle, put her left arm in a sling and said she needed surgery within five days.”
“Because he was a Christian and we were on a Christian mission trip, he only charged her for the materials to set her foot and arm, a total of only $36 for a hospital specialist visit! We also gave him one of our CDs.”
Transportation to and from the appointments was handled by a church member.
“Charlene was a real trooper with it all, and beginning on Tuesday, endured the painful long flights home with a wheelchair purchased in Bacolod,” May added.
But, the group’s flight from Manila to San Francisco was delayed by several hours, which caused them to miss their flight from San Francisco to Charlotte.
“We had to wait an additional six hours to get on another flight, which was full and had no seat with extra leg room available for Charlene to elevate her ankle,” May said. “Jeff gave her his aisle seat, but the flight attendant kept hitting her elbow with the service cart. Nevertheless, we made it home.”
Upon seeing an orthopedic surgeon in Boone, and after more tests and a CT scan, it was revealed that Norris’s injuries were worse than first expected.
She has since had a complete shoulder replacement and surgery on her elbow Although her ankle is severely sprained, it does not require surgery.
“In spite of her injuries, we were blessed that her fall did not occur until after all our singing and mission related obligations were completed,” May stated. “We were blessed that she did not hit her head hard. We were blessed that God had people in place willing and able to assist us — and that her medical expenses there were minimal.”
The foursome wishes to publicly thank the people there, and also their hometown connections for their prayers and support, without which they feel sure they would not have made it home safely.
“Besides the minor challenges of power and water outages and rain and mud from time to time — as well as the very real spiritual battles we encountered” May said, they were blessed. They could not share about their two major incidents, (for various reasons) until they were back home.
Furthermore, just three days before departing for home, the group learned that the governor of the island where they were staying, had been assassinated in his home by invaders from the opposite political party. By the time the music group left for home, three of the assassins had been apprehended.
Joyful Noise began in 2010 in with only Jeff Hemric, Paula May and Charlene Norris, with plans to sing in local churches and nursing homes in an effort to uplift and encourage others. Since that time, however, both their group and their ministry have been blessed and continues to grow year by year, currently including Jon Fansler, vocalist and bass guitar player, and Stanley Wilson, bass vocalist. Due to Fansler’s work schedule, he was unable to go on the mission trip.
For more information about Joyful Noise, visit www.joyfulnoisenc.com, call 336-830-7817, or email [email protected]
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