INDIAN LAND, S.C., June 6, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Last July, Christian musicians, Mike & Kelly Bowling and Terah Crabb Penhollow, Kelly's sister, were on their way to The Inspiration Networks for a live performance and television taping when their bus careened into the rear of a tractor trailer at a dead stop on I-77 in Charlotte. The aerial view of the accident scene was telecast on local news outlets throughout the Carolinas as fans watched and waited for information about each family member.
On May 21st, The Bowling Family finally made it to The Inspiration Networks. Their inaugural visit to the City of Light brought hundreds of faithful fans to the Lancaster County campus to hear what they never got to hear last July. But what they heard was unexpected.
"The energy was electrifying," commented one concert-goer. "I've never sensed such a powerful presence of the Lord in a Gospel concert. It's like we could really BELIEVE what they were singing 'cause we knew what they'd gone through."
Mike and Kelly confirmed the comment.
"You sing from a different place," said Kelly Bowling. "Our songs, the one's we've all sung time and time again, have come to life. They are more real now."
Mike Bowling, the family member who suffered the most severe injuries from the crash, agreed. "Each of us has a new perspective. It's almost like a gift; although I wouldn't wish on anyone what our family has endured this past year. We are still healing and it may take years to fully recover."
Images of the bus after the accident demand consideration of divine intervention.
"The front of the bus was gone," recollected Kelly. "I was lying in the back, resting in my bunk, when all of a sudden I was thrown, feet first, into the bunk wall. I jumped up and began running to the front where I saw the gigantic opening – the road was right there. It was surreal. At that point, I didn't even know that my foot was broken or that a vertebra was shattered; I was in total shock. Then, I remembered thinking, 'Why is my back hurting all of a sudden.'"
Paramedics arrived at the scene and began triage.
Terah recounted her first thoughts. "Mike looked really bad. "He was unresponsive and I was scared. I hardly noticed that my 11-year old niece, Katelanne, was bleeding profusely from a large laceration on her face. She was near Mike when we crashed. She kept saying, 'Daddy, wake up, wake up.' I guess we were all in shock."
The Bowlings were taken to Carolina's Medical Center in Charlotte. Mike's brain was swelling. Katelanne needed immediate care and plastic surgery on her face. Both were airlifted from the scene. Kelly was transported by ambulance and underwent x-rays where doctors determined that her L1 vertebra was virtually gone, shattered from the impact. Their other two daughters, ages four and seven, were examined and released.
"I don't know what we would have done without my sister, Terah," said Kelly with tears in her eyes. "She was the one who comforted the girls while Mike and I were being whisked away. If she had been incapacitated, our girls would have been going through all of this with complete strangers around them until other members of our family could get here. I thank God for her."
When news of the accident reached The Inspiration Networks, it was only a couple of hours until a live feed was scheduled to air the performance in 123 nations around the world. Everything changed in an instant. The producer of the event, Sandra Sims, remembered getting the news.
"Live shows are planned to the second," said Sims. All of a sudden, we knew the night had changed. But more than that, we were deeply concerned about our friends."
Since that day, The Bowling Family has endured many struggles.
"It's interesting what you learn about yourself when you're laid up for six months," said Mike. "You always hear how the world is so bad, but that's not what we experienced."
Kelly continued, "Yes, that's so true! If it weren't for kind-hearted family, friends and complete strangers, we wouldn't be here singing today. We received cards from all over the world…people saying they were praying for us, that their church was praying for us. It was so humbling."
The Bowling Family is easing into a concert schedule. They've purchased another bus and have begun touring again. "We used to sing five to six nights per week when we were out on the road," said Mike. "But we don't have the stamina to do that yet. So we're trying to do a two-night, mostly weekend tour, until we get our full strength back."
Following the concert, Kelly was in pain. Her back and neck clearly still give her trouble. Mike had a headache, which he says is common now. They pay a price to do what they love.
"We can do no less," said Kelly passionately. "We've had a call on our lives since we were children. And while the accident was a defining moment in our ministry, it doesn't override God's initial call to proclaim His glory and goodness through our music. That call will never die; it's irrevocable."
The Bowling Family concert was a moving experience for all who attended. And, it was a stirring testimony of God's faithfulness and mercy.
If you would like to see The Bowling Family in concert, visit for a full schedule.
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