Pastor Ron E. Thompson: Observations of Nashville: Music City, USA

Pastor Ron E. Thompson

In sixty years, traveling as an evangelist, I visited many cities, but my schedule prevented me from visiting Nashville. Currently retired, and a resident of Tennessee, I am pleased to report that I just returned from an enjoyable weekend in this popular tourist attraction. My purpose for this trip was an appointment with a physician at Vanderbilt Hospital, one of over three hundred healthcare establishments. My daughter and granddaughter accompanied me as we spent some memorable moments in Music City USA. God gave me some encouraging observations I want to share with our readers.

1. Highlights. Nashville’s story from its beginning has been music. When the Fisk Jubilee Singers presented their first concert before the Queen of England, she remarked that they must have come from “a city of music!”

Early settlers in Nashville during the 1700s enjoyed fiddle playing and dancing. The first celebrity who entertained with stories and fiddle playing was Davy Crockett. In 1892, the Ryman auditorium, was erected. Top musical acts included names like Enrico Caruso, Louis Armstrong, and Nat King Cole. Radio station WSM brought a weekend show called the Grand Ole Opry to the Ryman in 1925, and it became the longest
running radio show in continuous production for more than one hundred years. Celebrities including Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Elvis performed there.

Today Ryman celebrates 130 years as one of the most famous concert halls in America. Although known as the capital of country music, Nashville includes rhythm and blues that promoted Jim Hendrix in the 1930s, and rock and roll that popularized Little Richard in the 1960s. It is also known as a center for pop, bluegrass, jazz, soul, and even contemporary Christian music.

The award-winning Nashville Symphony occupies Music Mile downtown. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, plus Music City Live produce melodies that saturate the atmosphere day and night. We drove down Broadway and heard a plethora of harmony emanating from two hundred sites ranging from concert halls to honkytonks. Small wonder Nashville calls music its home.

Other attractions include the Parthenon, the world’s replica of the original temple in Greece, and serves as a museum. Nashville boasts a lower cost of living, amazing food, and professional sport teams. It is a big city with small town roots, and real southern hospitality.

2. Hinderances. Nashville is a rapidly growing metropolis with just under 700,000 inhabitants. Around 66.27 % of all Tennesseans live in the Greater Nashville area. It is the 21 st most populous city in the United States. Population grew in 2022 by ninety-eight people per day. However, 14.38% of the people live below the poverty line.

Music City is also the eighteenth most dangerous municipality in America. The crime rate is half that of St Louis, Missouri, but double that of Norfolk, VA. Its high crime rate is found mostly in a few metro areas, so the city is thought to be safe, especially within walking distance to tourist attractions. There are cautions to be observed.

If you want to enjoy the night attractions, go with a group so you can watch out for one another. Be aware of pickpockets and unauthorized vendors selling fake tickets to attractions. Nashville has quite a few bars and saloons. During Prohibition, some of them became the city’s not-so-secret bars. After Prohibition was repealed, many of them stayed open, and today are still in business.

Public transportation can hardly keep up with the growing number of people moving to Nashville. As the city continues to grow, the demand for housing outpaces supply, leading to skyrocketing prices and limited availability. Traffic is disgustingly heavy.

Weather there is high in humidity and promotes intense seasonal allergies.

3. Hope. Statistics reveal that 47.8% of Nashville inhabitants are thirty-four years old or younger. That is almost half the population.

Our visit gave us opportunities to witness with people. Everyone we encountered was friendly and eager to interact. We chatted with a young woman and young man who freely bore their hearts with us openly. We visited a restaurant and were given a table where people were already seated. Instantly we were warmly greeted, and a friendly exchange took place about various topics, including the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. From their conversation, some obviously knew the Lord. We encountered young waiters and waitresses in the restaurants we visited. Their service was excellent, and they warmly welcomed us to Nashville.

We shopped at a shoe store where we were witnessed to by a young sales associate who was a believer, and the son of a pastor. I told him I was an author and promised him a copy of my book, “Hurricane Evangelism.” It was encouraging to see a younger generation in Nashville who demonstrated an interest in spiritual things. God can use a consecrated minority to accomplish His purposes. David’s friend, Jonathan, facing a Phillistine enemy outpost, told his armor bearer: “It may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few” (I Samuel 14:6). God whittled Gideon’s army of 32,000 down to three hundred so they could defeat the Midianite enemy (Judges 7). Jesus fed 5,000 people with a lad’s lunch (Matthew 14:19-21).

Nashville is a big city filled with friendly young people who openly have an interest in spiritual things. What about your city? Do people there openly dialogue with others about the Lord?

Beloved, I challenge you to emulate the friendly witness of the youth of Music City USA. Many of you came to Nashville to pursue a career in some area of music. What is your goal? Do you want to be a famous star, or God’s faithful servant? Is your desire to perform for crowds, or please Christ? My prayer is that you will become a witnessing remnant for God, using your warmth, friendship, talent, and verbal testimony to bring the Good News of Christ to others. Amen?

Pastor Ron E Thompson

Ron E. Thompson is a retired pastor/evangelist having had a ministry spanning over sixty years. He served as pastor of churches in Indiana, Virginia, Arizona, and South Carolina. As Director of Brethren Evangelistic Ministries, he held numerous evangelistic and revival crusades in twenty-two states. He led a team that conducted evangelism seminars throughout the United States and in several foreign countries. Ron is author of two books: Hurricane Evangelism and Sermons in Song. He is also a musician, having studied piano under noted composer-conductor, Hubert Tillery. Music has served him well as an avocation in his life and ministry. He currently is a pianist at the Fountain of Life Bible Church in Johnson City, TN. Ron received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bridgewater College and his Master of Divinity degree from Grace Theological Seminary. He did graduate studies at Wheaton College and the Billy Graham School of Evangelism. He attended the North American Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in1994. Ron’s home is in Limestone, Tennessee. He is the father of two daughters: Evangeline Hales, a musician at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA and violinist with the Lynchburg Symphony; Dr. Melody Archer, Retired Administrator and Principal of Tri-Cities Christian Schools, Blountville, TN.

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