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When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. -- John 8:12
Read by: Frank Dagley of North East Christian Church
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I Can Only Imagine: The Rest of the Story

The surprise hit movie of the year has been “I Can Only Imagine.”  In just three weeks, it has already grossed $58 million dollars!  In a few more weeks, it will eclipse “God’s Not Dead” and almost every other faith-based movie.

The movie tells the true story of Bart Millard, lead singer of the band MercyMe, who was beaten by his father until cancer led his father to turn to God.  Bart and his father grew very close, until his father died in 1991.

Fast forward to 1999, when MercyMe (still unknown) needed a song for their latest album.  Bart quickly wrote “I Can Only Imagine.”  But it didn’t catch on until 2001, when Amy Grant invited Bart to join her onstage for the first public performance of the song.  (She had planned to release it on her own album.)  You can see a brief video of that performance on this YouTube clip.

MercyMe re-released “I Can Only Imagine” in 2001 on their major label debut, “Almost There.”  And the rest, as they say, is history.

But not quite all the history…

In 2001, INO Records sent KJOL a single called “I Worship You” by MercyMe.   I had never heard of the group.  But three days later, KJOL received a second single from INO Records.  The letter said,

“We are asking you NOT to release I Worship You.  Due to overwhelming response from radio stations, please release I Can Only Imagine instead!”

After a quick listen, I agreed:  it was a great song.  KJOL began playing “I Can Only Imagine” on April 7, 2001, the day the “new” KJOL went on the air.  (A year later, KJOL finally released “I Worship You,” which remains one of my favorite MercyMe songs.  You can hear it on this YouTube video.)

 

   
 
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