Michael W. Smith Gives Early Christmas Gift to Soldier
Our friend and ministry partner Michael W. Smith continues to display his passion for U.S. military veterans and their loved ones. On the heels of this summer’s Wounded Warrior project during his cruise with us to Alaska, Smitty again shined a light on veterans by surprising a soldier and his family with unexpected gifts in Clarksville, TN.
Staff Sergeant Rafael Panduro, his wife Ursula, and the couple’s two daughters were enjoying a meal at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® in Clarksville when Smitty entered the restaurant. He sat down with the Panduros for lunch before giving them an early Christmas gift: Backstage tickets to his upcoming Nashville concert and a $500 gift card to spend at Cracker Barrel.
His generosity took the family by surprise. Panduro, a platoon leader at Fort Campbell who enlisted in the military 15 years ago, was already a Smitty fan. He said a Michael W. Smith song was one of the first songs he heard after becoming a Christian. “It’s amazing,” he said of the gift.
Smitty and the Tennessee-based restaurant/gift store have a long partnership. His recent Hymns album, released in early 2014, was a collaboration with the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® Exclusive Music Program. Also the sponsor of his current tour, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® worked behind the scenes to set up Smitty’s encounter with Staff Sergeant Panduro and his family.
At Inspiration, we continue to be grateful to Michael W. Smith and his ministry, especially his example when it comes to our nation’s veterans. His intentional and generous spirit during the Christmas season encourages us. Kindness can make a huge difference in the lives of others—particularly those who have given so much to protect our freedoms.
If you’d like to make your own Christmas donation to the Wounded Warrior Project, click here.