TERRE HAUTE —
A local church hopes to illuminate the path of perseverance Sunday, brightened by the light of a blind minister’s gospel music.
Kurt LaBouve’s fingers brushed the keys of a white piano inside the Good Shepherd Baptist Church Friday afternoon. A Louisiana native with a southern gospel style, the 52-year-old evangelist mixes old favorites with original works.
“I write most of my own music,” he explained, recalling his introduction to instruments while a student at the School for the Blind in Baton Rouge, La.
At the age of 7, LaBouve was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition which can lead to blindness. Sightless before third grade, he left home to live at school, where he learned to read Braille and was introduced to music. Decades later, the Nashville recording artist plays bass and rhythm guitar as well as piano, with more than 20 albums and several overseas tours to his credit.
Thomas Manbeck, pastor of the church at 1200 E. Davis Dr., said LaBouve will perform at both services Sunday, 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
“He’s an inspiration to people to overcome their disabilities,” he said, noting that with God’s strength, one can do anything. “It’s an opportunity for people to get to come and hear him.”
Manbeck added that LaBouve will also deliver a message Sunday, in addition to his own sermon titled “The Woman who Married the Wrong Man.” Meant to be both fun and informative, Manbeck will tell the tale of Abigail, a woman stuck in a bad marriage before allowing God’s will to prevail and eventually marrying David, King of Israel.
“It’s quite a story,” he remarked, pointing out the tie-in to LaBouve’s own story of faith despite of circumstance.
Raised a Roman Catholic, LaBouve said he was “saved” shortly after high school, at which point he met the woman he’d marry, Dale. Born and raised a Baptist herself, Dale’s influence drew him into that denomination, and by the time he was 25 he was preaching the gospel, becoming an evangelist at 28.
“Being called to preach was big,” he recalled. “I thought God had made a mistake.”
But armed with a braille Bible, the Louisiana truck driver’s son learned to prepare sermons, and continued to perform and record gospel music. Much of his work is available online at www.kurt
Overcoming obstacles is glory to God, he said, explaining a favorite passage of scripture found in II Corinthians in which the Apostle Paul details a “thorn” in his flesh, which he’d prayed be removed. God’s response, Paul writes, is that His own grace is sufficient to all things despite infirmity.
“His power rests upon us when we’re weak and He is strong,” LaBouve said.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.