Music ministry: Hartselle pastor Charley Cain to hold 30th anniversary concert
By Catherine Godbey
For the Enquirer
When CAIN — the chart-topping, Dove Award-nominated band consisting of siblings Taylor, Madison and Logan Cain — called to let their father know they were transitioning from country to Christian music, he offered this advice.
“I said, ‘OK, but if you think this is a step down or a consolation prize, you better not do it because, to me, it’s sacred ground. It’s the highest calling there is to get to serve God with your talent,’” Charley Cain said.
It is a calling Cain, a Christian musician and pastor of World Harvest Outreach Church in Hartselle, has been following for the past 40 years.
A concert celebrating Cain’s music ministry will take place Feb. 19 at Calvary Assembly of God on Alabama 20 in Tanner. The event marks the 30th anniversary of the live recording of Cain’s “Highest Praise” album.
“We are praying for this to be an epic move of God. We want to see people saved, healed, filled, delivered and to never be the same after that night,” Cain said.
That has been Cain’s prayer ever since he accepted his calling into the ministry.
That call, spurred by his younger brother Rob Cain, who now serves as president of Hartselle Camp Meeting, came two weeks before Charley Cain graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in civil engineering.
“I told my brother that I was going to straighten my life out, graduate, come home and settle down, but first I had to get through the exams. He said, ‘Why wait until then when Jesus can help with exams?’ We got on the floor, I gave my life to Jesus and, in that moment, I knew I wasn’t going to be an engineer. When I got off the floor I said, ‘If you’ll let me, I’ll tell everybody about you,’” Cain said.
After graduating, Cain returned to north Alabama and worked as an engineer for nine years.
“Every night during those nine years, I was somewhere teaching Bible study and doing concerts. Eventually I gave up my job to do ministry full time,” Cain said.
In the early 1980s, Cain served as the director of The Fire Escape, a Christian outreach where teens and adults would gather for music and fellowship.
In 1985, that grassroots ministry transformed into World Harvest Outreach, where Cain serves as senior pastor. While leading World Harvest Outreach, Cain also traveled around the world performing Christian music.
He performed events with Grammy Award winners Steven Curtis Chapman and DC Talk and released three projects of original songs, including the song “For a Moment,” which climbed to No. 66 on the national charts.
“Music is so powerful. Music goes right in your soul. Sometimes, when a sermon can’t reach you, music can,” Cain said. “For the concert, I don’t want to just play music, I want the Holy Spirit to show up and minister to people.”
The idea for the 30th anniversary concert of Highest Praise came when Cain ran into Calvary Assembly Pastor George Sawyer at the movie theater. The original concert took place at the former Calvary Assembly site on the Beltline.
“It was a big deal back then to video a concert. I had to have a truck drive down from Tennessee to record it. Each roll of tape lasted 15 minutes and they were $500 each,” Cain said. “During the concert we took up an offering. When I came off stage, I just prayed I had enough to cover everything I owed everybody that night.”
Joining Cain for the upcoming concert will be his original drummer David Vest, who runs E320 recording studio in Decatur. In the audience will be Cain’s children.
“I didn’t expect them to be there because they are starting their own headlining tour in March, but they said they would be here. They said they wouldn’t miss it. That makes me feel good,” Cain said.
The concert, which will begin at 6 p.m., will include a combination of new songs and tunes recorded on his “Dead Man Walking” album. Admission is free.
One-on-One with Charley Cain
How important is music in your ministry? My wife once said that music is half of what we do. It’s very important because it gets past people’s walls they put up. There was a guy who came to the concert 30 years ago. Somebody dragged him there. He told me later that he had to get out of the auditorium because God was all over him. He went to the bathroom and God was in the bathroom. He dropped to his knees in front of the toilet and gave his life to Jesus. He is now a pastor.
What impact have you seen your ministry have? I was doing an event in Tuscaloosa right after the (April 27, 2011) tornadoes came through. At the end, I got a prompting in my heart that somebody who had cancer needed to come forward. I finally said it. A very proper, well-dressed young lady came down. I laid hands on her and prayed. Five years later, I was there at another church. A lady and her husband were standing in the back. She finally came up to me and said, “I want you to know I was the lady. I had stage four breast cancer and when I went back Monday, it was gone.” God did that.
What does it mean to you that your children are involved with Christian music? It means everything to me. From the very beginning, it was obvious what they should do. When Taylor was 4 years old, she would get behind our big speaker, pretend it was a podium, open up an encyclopedia and start preaching to people. I am so happy they have stepped into their anointing.