Instruments have a Story…

January 12th, 2016 Posted by The Howells' Blog

instruments have a story

Many of the instruments we have collected are cast-off, unused and stored  for unknown reasons.  Perhaps a student used to play in band, doesn’t anymore, and the instrument went under a bed, never to be heard from again.  


After the first of the New Year, Amber and I were contacted by our local newspaper.  We had tried to get in touch with them in November to see if our instrument drive would be a story of interest.  Now I (Brad) was having a phone interview with a reporter.  The next week, we were back to school and we received an email with a link to our article.  You can read the article here:


We shared this article on our Howells to Zambia Facebook page.  Within 48 hours, this post has reached nearly 4500 people, more than any other post to date.  The print article came out over the following weekend.  We have had several emails and phone calls from people around town with instruments.

Sunday, January 10, I received a call from a lady who had a valved trombone that her husband was considering donating to our ZIP Drive and the Music Academy.  The problem was that he was on hospice care and couldn’t leave their home, so would I be willing to visit with them and share about the ministry so he could decide?  I scheduled a visit for the next day.

When I arrived, I met Becky Curtis at the door and she ushered me into the living room where Tom was sitting with his walker with his oxygen tubing running along the floor.  I shook tValved Trombonehe hand of this man and was startled by the strength in his grip.  While he tired out moving papers on a clipboard, and had to pause between phrases to catch his breath, Tom was very
determined to assess whether our cause was the one he had been waiting for.

In 1972, Tom purchased this unique instrument from a music store in Traverse City, MI.  He had learned trombone in school but described himself as a “below-average” player.  He found he didn’t do well with the slide of a trombone so he found that this valved trombone worked better for him.  This instrument was one that had been designed for the Ohio State University Marching Band.  Tom has played this instrument in churches he has been apart of for many years since then.  

For seven years, Tom wanted to donate his valved trombone to a person or organization that would appreciate it for more than just the music it would create.  He found our article and was moved by our story.  Tom highly prized this instrument and wanted to find a home for it where it would “continue to bring glory to God.” 

Brad and TomI told him about the impact the Music Academy has on the young people in Livingstone.  I explained to him how we live the Gospel alongside them as we engage in relationships.  I shared how learning an instrument equips them to imagine a better future.  I told him how this instrument would empower a continuing legcy in the lives of the students who learned music on it. His instrument would indeed bring glory to God by changing  lives forever.

Tom’s eyes filled with tears and we both realized that God had brought our stories together.  And I am honored to be able to watch just how God is going to fulfill this man’s desire. 

Tom and Becky Curtis have decided to become a part of the story that will change the future of real people in Zambia.  


***Follow up – 1/17/2016:  Thursday evening, after this story was posted, Becky Curtis called me to let me know that Tom passed into the presence of our Heavenly Father during the day.  While we are saddened by this news, we rejoice in Tom’s restored strength and health in eternity.  We are praising Jesus that He allowed the timing of this story to happen as it did.  Please pray for the Curtis family over the next few weeks especially. ***