On the stage and behind the scenes

The NarroWay Blog

Chapter 25: King's Arena

pulling nails

Memorial weekend, 1996 (–dash–) Memorial weekend, 1997!
First time we saw the rundown amphitheater in Fort Mill, SC (–dash–) First show opened on stage at King’s Arena.
You know what they say: "It’s all about the dash."

It was October before a lease was finalized, granting NarroWay use of the amphitheater property until December 31, 2005, with an option to extend the lease for two three-year periods.

working on laptopREBECCA –
With the help of our attorney and friend, Joe Justice, and his wife, Virginia, we began the insufferable procedure of securing a tax-exempt status from the IRS. Unbeknownst to us, our coming to the old Heritage USA property coincided with Jim Bakker’s release from prison. So, the IRS agent thought we were a front for a Jim Bakker come-back!

Little did we know that we would live in the ominous shadow of Jim Bakker for years to come.

Without IRS certification, we couldn’t secure the contributions we desperately needed.


Dr. Joe spoke to a mutual friend who agreed to loan us $50,000.00 to start renovations. We already owed $60,000.00 to friends who loaned us money to purchase most of our audio equipment from the 1996 Atlantic Olympics, although the actual value of the equipment was double that amount - $120,000.00.

The quote for lighting came in at $100,000.00. And electricians informed us that we were looking at $30,000.00 to repair and update the electrical.

Each of our brothers, Joe Clark and Phillip Martin, were working in construction at that time.
They left their families in Southwest Virginia and came to South Carolina for minimum wage to head up the re-construction.

brothers working

We hired my daddy, too - but we didn’t pay him! A retired highway design engineer for the Virginia DOT, we knew, if all else failed, he would at least keep our brothers in line!

rebeccas dad
lunch break

That October, 1996, we were standing at the top of that heck-of-a-mess amphitheater designing a brochure for a show with no cast, no costumes, no brochure photos, no staff, no office, no supplies, no ticket sales, no money to renovate, and the cost to print and mail the brochure was a whopping $10,000.00+.

We figured that if one of us died, the other wouldn’t get enough life insurance to get out of debt. Neither of us got paid. NarroWay had no income. Still there were car payments, house payments, insurance, taxes, groceries - and the money we had saved was disappearing.

We fasted and prayed. Once we went a week without eating, pleading to God for help, for MONEY!

At least our food cost went down!

Every day we walked around the amphitheater, seven times, praying the entire way.

This was the first prayer I ever prayed around the amphitheater, and I prayed it all the years we were there: “I will not be afraid. I will not be discouraged. I will take my position and do what you tell us to do. And YOU will fight this battle for us.”

Help began to show up from everywhere. Ed and Janice Shaffer had never heard of NarroWay when they came from Pennsylvania. Ed recounted that before they left their home, the Lord told him to put his tool box in the car because he was going to need it. When they arrived in South Carolina, someone told them that there was a prayer meeting going on at Aunt Susan’s house. Not knowing anyone, they came.

That night, Birdie and I had been asked to lead that prayer meeting and share what the Lord had instructed us to do at the amphitheater. The people wept as we told them about Tessie’s vision and our step of faith.

After the meeting, Ed introduced himself saying, “You’re the reason I’m here. I’ve got my tool box in my trunk.”

ed shafferREBECCA –
Ed and Janice moved here and stayed by our side for years.

There was help, but still no money.
It was December. Time was running out.

On Christmas Eve my family came together in Tennessee. And like the heralding angels God sent that Christmas long ago, Dr. Joe and Tessie brought good news:
“Remember Johnny and Marie? You met them on the Holy Land trip ten years ago?”

Sure we remembered. They were wonderful people. Johnny loved singing in the ancient stone cathedrals.
Tessie said: “Johnny called Joe (Johnny’s pastor). Johnny is selling his business and asked if Joe had any recommendations as to how he should designate his giving!”

Now, it just so happened that a month or so earlier, a man we didn’t know offered to put the amphitheater name on a sign to hang on the wall. So we had pondered a name. Finally we decided since Charlotte is called the Queen City we should call the amphitheater, “King’s Arena.”

Suddenly I remembered!

“Tessie!” I asked. “What’s Johnny and Marie’s last name?”

“King,” she said. “Johnny and Marie King.”

arena sign
johnny and marie king

Comments 1

Guest - Autocad Training on Tuesday, 24 January 2017 05:16

Very good and important topic, I've benefited from a lot Thanks

Very good and important topic, I've benefited from a lot Thanks
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Chapter 26: What Were We Thinking!
Chapter 24: Edge of the Cliff

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