By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
ESSEX, Md.—Hollywood came to Tabernacle Church, Essex, to help promote the church’s annual Vacation Bible School. One of the co-stars of the new move “Get Low,’ starring Robert Duvall and Bill Murray, Amazing Grace, showed up to entertain the community. Of course Amazing Grace is as mule.
“She ‘kicked it off,’” Suzanne McHenry, the church’s VBS director said with a laugh. “We thought she would go perfect with the Saddleback Ranch theme.”
“It was great. The whole community came out,” she said. The friendly donkey shot hoops, pushed a baby carriage around and even knelt at a cross.
The mule’s owner, Steven Foster, McHenry’s brother-in-law from Front Royal, Va., shared his testimony with the crowd.
Foster is a gentle man, with a southern twang. He’s trained mules and rode in rodeos throughout his life. But Foster struggled with addictions for years and it was ruining his life.
“One morning I woke up and caught myself crying. I never do that. I began to think of my kids, the past, people I hurt…I knelt down and put my face on my hands and I said, ‘God, If you’re real, I need you in my life. I felt a presence coming over me. I had peace I never had before.”
Foster walked into the kitchen and told his girlfriend Pam, now his wife, what had happened. “I told her I gave my heart to God and I will serve him all of my life.”
God blessed him with “Grace.” Foster didn’t think he wanted any more mules after the heartbreaking loss of his favorite mule, AJ. But a friend came along with a baby that captured Foster’s heart and he took her home. He named her “Steve’s Amazing Grace.”
Foster and “Grace” rode around in his truck, with the little mule sitting on his lap. “She comes in the house and we’ll sit on the porch together. She’ll drink her coffee and I’ll drink mine,” Foster laughed.
“I felt God opened the door for her and me to do a ministry,” Foster said. He trained the mule to do incredible tricks—play music, retrieve mail, smile, yawn, kiss, hug, and, of course, dunk baskets. After sinking a basket, she goes to her cooler and downs a sports drink.
The mule even paints. Foster tells people to pick out the colors and he has Grace paint for them. They can then buy the painting. Foster also sells the paintings at auctions to benefit a variety of charities.
“Robert Duvall said Grace is smarter than a lot of people he knows,” Forester laughs, adding that the actor has really enjoyed being around the mule.
Foster just praises the Lord. “I have my kids back in my life, and my grandkids…the Lord just started my life over again.”
At the end of the performances, Foster and Grace kneel at the cross and Foster tells the crowd, “This is where you truly find amazing grace.”
In addition to the movie “Get Low”, playing in theaters now, Amazing Grace will appear on “Only in America” on the History Channel in September in a skit with Larry the Cable Guy.