When our pastor, Don Carr, was a young man of about 11 years, he had a life changing experience. He learned that life was going to change drastically for him. His father was dying of lung cancer. Don observed his father in the closing months of his life and saw something remarkable. His father, who had been abusive and had never shown Don any affection began to change. Don observed that in the last year of his father’s life – for the first time in Don’s life – he had a father that cared about him and his family. How had this change occurred? His father had given his life to Christ while watching a well known preacher on television. This began for Don a desire to know this Jesus who changed his father’s life. Don gave his life to Christ at 11 years of age largely because of the change he had witnessed in the life of his dad who died in October of that year. The Lord called him into the ministry at age 12. Don discovered his musical talents at age 13 and began to travel on weekends with a Christian band that covered the southeast and recorded his first album in Nashville with them at age 17. Don developed his craft and lived as a professional musician most of his life. He attended Oral Roberts University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a communication arts degree.
He then left to travel all over the U. S. and Europe with a band called Living Sound. Due to some bad circumstances, Don began to blame God and Christians for mistreatment that was not at all God’s fault. People had wronged him, but he was not yet mature enough to know how to forgive. Don left Living Sound and began to run away from Jesus and God’s call on his life. Don and his fiancé, Evelyn Solovij went to London to record at Abbey Roads Studios with well known producer, Alan Shacklock. The managers of the project were the managers of The Who and other well known groups. Recording contracts were offered by Atlantic Records and Warner Brothers as well as other small labels. Don thought that he was on his way. One problem persisted. Don was absolutely miserable.
Don and Evelyn went home to Florida (Don’s home, Evelyn was Canadian) to get married and planned to return and sign contracts and get going on a recording career. But Don was on an emotional downward spiral. Don began to drink heavily and regularly considered suicide. One day, while alone in his Tampa apartment, considering how he might end his miserable life, Don began to play one of his favorite songs. It was not a Christian song, but the Holy Spirit was all over it on that day. It was a song called Desperado. As Don began to sing this song (it had always been one of his favorites) tears came to his eyes and he fell on his knees as he recognized His God was calling him back home. It was time to stop running. It was time to stop blaming God and others for wrongs that had been done. It was time to let Jesus love him again. On his knees, he prayed, “God, You called me into the ministry at one time. I’m miserable and I don’t want to live anymore, but if You will take me back, I would sure like to do whatever You want me to do. I’m dying right now and either you take me, or I will take my life.” As He prayed, he felt the love of God cover him. He knew that he was still called by and loved by God and, somehow he wanted to live again. The dark covering that had shrouded his life for the past many months was suddenly lifted and Don for the first time in a long time wanted to live and wanted to be used by God. He prayed again, “Jesus, I surrender all that I am to You. I don’t want to just follow You when You tell me to do the things that I like, but I want to follow You with my whole heart.”
As you have probably figured out, Don and Evelyn never went back to finish that recording project.
In fact, Don became the part time Youth Pastor at Tampa Bay Community Church almost immediately. After that, Don was called to move to Tallahassee, FL to take a full-time position as the Youth Pastor of Christian Heritage Church. When he and Evelyn arrived there, the youth group had about 16 kids in it. The next week, it had 8. As Don and Evelyn trusted God, that youth group grew to about 200 strong. Many came to know Christ and are walking with Jesus even today. Several are in the ministry themselves today. In 1987 the Lord impressed Don that He wanted to use his music again. Don spent the next 5 years on the road, traveling with his band, “Don Carr & Sold Out.” They didn’t go for record contracts or any of that. God directed Don not to be tempted there again. They simply played from coast to coast, to anyone who would listen. They ministered in churches, public schools, prisons, hospitals, festivals, town squares, shopping malls, movie theaters, on the beach, concert halls and even the odd night club or two. Literally thousands of people came to Christ. During this same time, when Don was at home, he would help out as the assistant pastor and worship leader at Calvary Chapel in Tallahassee. Don and Evelyn then felt impressed by the Lord that they needed to move their ministry to Dallas, TX. They said, “yes,” sold their home, packed up and moved to Texas where they continued to minister on the road and Don became the assistant pastor and worship leader at Calvary Chapel of Dallas – which is now Calvary Chapel of Plano.
Don was perfectly happy to serve the Lord on the road although sometimes life could be difficult. It didn’t matter, he was doing the two things he enjoyed most in life. He was playing his music and serving his God. Nothing was better than that! Don had a small Bible Study on Thursday nights. On one swing out west, the Lord made it known that He considered the Bible Study to be a church. Upon arrival back in Dallas (Mesquite to be exact), Don began to share with everyone at the Bible Study what God had shown him. God had said that they were to start a church called Grace Fellowship where people would get to know who He really is. Grace Fellowship would be a place where people who have been hurt by judgmental Christians in the past can come a receive healing and be restored to Jesus Christ. It was to be a place where people actually care about each other and get involved in the lives of one another. It will be a place where the church focuses on what Jesus and the apostles deemed important and where all the religious rhetoric was thrown out. It was going to be a church for people who don’t like “church.” Don said it this way, “It will be a church for people like me, who love Jesus, but somehow got hurt. I needed to be restored back to my Jesus.
This will be a place where people like me can come and serve God again and put their lives back together.” Don has been the pastor of Grace Fellowship ever since. The church currently meets at 124 Gross Rd, suite E, Mesquite, TX 75149. You are more than welcome to come and be a part of what God is doing at Grace Fellowship. God loves you and would like to change your life. Just turn to Him and let Him love you. Receive the sacrifice that Jesus made for you on the cross and make Jesus the Lord of your life. Don would say it this way, “if He wants me and can use me, He will use anyone.” God thinks you are special. Isn’t it time for you to come back home to Jesus?