As the next few weeks went by, I started hanging out with Carla and her group of friends more and Jerry was part of that group. We all went to Lakewood church. It is one of the largest churches in America now, but even back then, it was huge and one could easily get lost in the crowd. Through our time together I began to realize that Jerry Lackey must be older than 18 or 19, because I kept hearing bits and pieces of some of the things he had done since high school, and I knew he couldn’t have done all that in such a short time. I was 24 years old at the time.

Image Carla was a known “matchmaker” so reluctantly one evening, I was riding to church with Carla and another friend when I mustered up the nerve to ask exactly how old Jerry Lackey was. I knew this question would be met with some serious “ooh’s” and teasing but I just had to know! To my shock and surprise, I found out that night that Jerry was in fact- 6 years older than me. For one, rare moment, I was speechless!

Soon after that, we had a concert planned with Russ Taff’s first “crossover” album, an album that was being played in the Christian and Secular Markets. Because of this, we planned a press conference to get the media out for the great event just prior to the concert. Now Carla, being the devious matchmaker that she was, said to me, “Jana, Russ Taff is Jerry Lackey’s favorite Christian Artist, so you need to invite him to be your escort to the Press Conference. After all, it just wouldn’t be appropriate for you to go alone.” Yeah right! Being the godly, spiritual young lady that I was, I said to her, “I will not be the first one to ask him out. That just wouldn’t be right!” She replied to me, “Now Jana, just where do you find that in the bible?” She had me! When I reluctantly agreed, she then proceeded to lay out the plan of exactly what I was to say to him after service that next evening. We all went in for snacks after the service. So, just as I had rehearsed, I asked, “Hey you know the Russ Taff concert coming up?” “Yes”, he said. “ We are having a press conference before-hand. You want to go with me to pick him up from the airport, go to the press conference, and then go to the concert afterwards? He resounded with a very eager “yeah sure!”

So, the time came for the exciting evening. I had gone shopping and bought a new outfit- with bright colors, an indigo jacket, bright yellow blouse and big splashy flowers on my skirt. The evening was great. I was terrified, but excited and managed to be confident as he watched me mix with the crowd of media buffs from all over the city. The concert was a sell- out crowd at the Arena Theater in Houston, an awesome facility in the round that has a stage that makes a slow 360 as the show is in progress.

Afterwards, when everything was over I had to take him back to his car, a cute little Red MG Convertible that was too small for us to go fetch Russ in! So there I was,driving my little blue, Toyota Celica on the 610 loop of Houston. The loop encircles the city with all the major highways intersecting it. There is just one thing I left out about when I asked Jerry’s age in her car that night. Carla said to me, “Jerry is a really great guy, but good luck getting him to open up and tell you anything about himself.” He is the kind of guy that can draw the best out of other people, did not talk too much about himself. Well you could have fooled me! That night in the car as I was driving, Jerry began to share his story with me about how God had called him in a very special way –to Africa! He actually shed tears as he spoke and recounted to me the experience of watching a T.L. Osborne film that changed his life and gave him the unmistakeable call to serve in Africa. I had a similar experience for Southern Africa while studying at Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas just 3 years before. Just as I was about to blurt that out, I experienced a “holy hush” that came over me. In the midst of his sharing, I missed our exit!! I ended up driving around the entire city of Houston as Jerry poured his heart out to me about his call and love for the precious peoples of Africa. Normally I would have said something like, “Oh wow, neat, me too”, but that holy, reverent hush had come over me and it would be weeks before I would share with Jerry our mutual love and calling for the Nations of Africa.

Watch here for more of the story~