Birth of a
This wasn’t the first song that I wrote. There were others.
Some were never heard by anyone but God and me. And then
there was one that I will always remember as being one that
helped others who were grieving. ‘Footprints in the Sand’
came to me while I was pet sitting for a man going through
chemotherapy treatments. It seemed so appropriate at the
time, as he was going through something very traumatic, not
knowing the outcome, and needing to know that there was a
Jesus who was walking right beside him. The inspiration came
from the well known poem. I gave him a copy of the lyrics.
Later, I was able to sing it at a memorable service for a
family in Brockway who lost their home and family members in
a massive fire. I was glad that I had something to offer
them in their grief.
Shortly after that, I was shopping at my local shopping
center as it was around Christmas time. A particular lady
caught my eye. She had a shopping cart filled with clothes,
toys and gifts. I don’t think it could hold anything more!
Christmas music was playing, and decorations were up. But
she appeared to be tired and somewhat burdened. It made me
wonder if she, like so many of us, have made Christmas into
a materialistic holiday instead of the worshipful
celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Was she
aware that Jesus came for her? She seemed to be wanting to
make this Christmas the best one ever for her family and
friends, but come January, there would be huge bills waiting
for her in the mail.
In the following days, the song came to me. “Who Needs To
Know?” was born, and the lyrics and melody just seemed to
flow. I am the keyboard player for the worship team at First
United Methodist Church in St. Marys, and I presented the
song to our worship leader, Jim Dunmire, at the following
practice. He has a great voice, and I wanted to see what he
thought of it. As he was singing it, Pastor Dwayne Burfield
walked in. He listened to the song, liked it, and requested
that it be sung during the Christmas services in the coming
weeks. So we did. It was very well received by the people,
and a few asked us if we would record it onto CD. That had
never entered my mind! But I felt it was my calling from God
that there are people out there who need to know. The
journey had begun!
In the months that followed, Jim was able to locate a
producer in Nashville, TN who would work with us. The
recording process was about to begin! I applied for a
copyright for the song, and Jim sent down a demo.
Professional musicians were hired and a CD of the melody was
sent to me for approval. Once that was done, then it was
Jim’s turn to supply the vocals. We and our spouses flew
down for his recording. It was an awesome experience for me;
one that I had never aimed for. Yet here we were, recording
a song that I wrote! The producer was great, and walked Jim
through the whole process. I trusted his expertise since he
had been in the recording business a long time in the Music
Capital of the World, Nashville! Of course, all the glory
was going to God, who gave me this song, so that people
could receive His message of love and salvation.
When all was finished, I received the master discs. The next
step was to have it replicated and a jacket designed so it
could go out to the people to enjoy. I chose Disc Makers,
sent them my photos and ideas, and they worked with me to
come up with a finished product that I am very pleased with.
I will never ever forget the day when the boxes arrived
through UPS! Slowly, yet eagerly, I opened a box. I reached
in and saw rows and rows of red cases, wrapped in
cellophane. I pulled out one and just stared at it! I
couldn’t believe that I was actually holding one of my CDs!
After awhile, I opened it and played it. Beautiful! Awesome!
I must have played that thing five times! I’d crank up the
volume, since I was the only one home at the time…wow. I
kept saying to myself…Wow….Wow!
In the days that followed, I shared them with my family and
the worship team, and of course, Jim and Pastor Burfield!
They joined me in my excitement and were happy for me too.
The journey was about to get even more exciting as the song
would go out to those who need to know.
The Christmas season was soon approaching, so I found myself
busy trying to figure out how to get this song out to the
people. A dream of mine was to have it played on the radio.
I sent several letters out to different stations. A friend
in my church was able to get it played on three local
secular stations. One even interviewed Jim and me on the
air! I will always remember the evening that I was pulling
into the church’s parking lot before our music practice. I
had the radio station on, and the song started playing! On
my radio display were the words “Who Needs To Know?” Jim
Dunmire Mary Latona, flashing through like a ticker tape!
Another Wow!! I wondered if anyone else I knew had seen
that. I went in and told everyone, “Guess what!! ……” I think
they were getting a little tired of my excitement. ‘Get back
down to earth, Mary‘, they probably were thinking. But I
couldn’t help myself.
In the weeks that followed, many people bought the CDs to
give to their family and friends. I decided to give all the
proceeds from the CDs to my church for its building fund.
One was sent out to the state of Washington. I will never
know the impact it has made on people. Only God knows, and I
believe He has a purpose for that song. As the song says,
time is running out to share His message of love and
salvation to those who need to know Him. Music can be a
powerful tool, and this is one of the many ways He uses to
reach people. I am so glad He decided to use me, for this
has been a remarkable journey.
The following year, after the Christmas season was finished,
I reviewed the progress of the song. Though getting radio
play locally was great, I had wanted the song to be aired on
Family Life Network. It is a Christian radio station located
in central New York state, with a listening audience of not
only New York and Pennsylvania, but all over the world
through its internet site. Thousands and thousands of people
listen to its inspiring music and programs. I know I do.
They hadn’t responded to my letter the Christmas before, so
I thought I would try again.
I learned that the letter had never reached the person it
was intended for. I contacted the Program Director and told
him about my song, and its popularity in my local area. He
granted me an interview that summer. This was definitely God
opening a door that doesn’t open for many people. He told me
he receives many songs and tapings each week from people who
are trying to get into the music business, and most of the
time, they aren’t playable due to various reasons. But he
told me that he felt he needed to see me and to let me
present this song to him. I watched him as he was listening,
and could tell he was liking it. When it finished, he told
me that he would definitely use it in the Christmas
programming and that it not only was professionally done,
but it had a great message. I must have been in his office
for an hour. My husband was waiting out in the car,
wondering where I was! I was elated, to say the least.
Starting in mid-December, it was sure enough given air time.
The Program Director sent me the days and approximate times
that it would be played, since the programming is automated.
So all of us were able to tune in. There were many times
when people would stop me as I was out and about in town,
telling me they had heard my song on the radio! The local
secular radio stations also played it again. This was an
After the Christmas season was over, the Program Director
told me that the song would be played again the following
Christmas, and more often, as it had ‘been established’.
This was confirming to me that God still has people out
there who will be at the right place and at the right time,
within earshot of the radio, to be able to listen to the
song. God does work in marvelous ways, and He knows who
needs to know!
Besides sending letters to radio stations that fall, I also
sent letters to Christian television networks who I thought
would be interested in the message of this song. Cornerstone
TeleVision from Pittsburgh, PA responded by inviting Jim and
me to come down and record the song for their Focus4
program. That Program Director hadn’t even heard the song,
yet she was interested in having us! Another door opened by
God! I sent the CD down to her, and several weeks later,
Jim, I and our spouses drove down for the taping. This was
to be another unforgettable experience! As we were arriving
in the parking lot, we couldn’t help but notice the tall
towers that reached into the clouds. I reminded Jim that he
would be heard by people all over the world! Butterflies
were beginning to flutter! Once we entered the building, we
were met by the Program Director and led into the ‘Green
Room’. We were beginning to feel important! It was my turn
first to go into ‘Makeup’. While I was turning into a
glamour girl, Jim was led onto the stage area for sound
measurements, etc. When I was done, it was my turn to be
interviewed and I was to tell what inspired me to write the
song. Jim was being made up at that time. Then, all of us
went into the stage room to record him singing the song. The
room was large, with several sets along the perimeter, each
set belonging to one of Cornerstone’s shows that they
produce. I recognized ‘Arlene’s Kitchen’. To see a set in
person and compare it to what I had seen on television was
neat. Above us, the high ceiling was black. In fact, the
area behind the cameras was very dim. Jim was positioned on
stage, surrounded by props of a boat dock with scenes of
Pittsburgh behind him. Bright stage lights were above him.
He was standing in front of a microphone, probably wishing
he had his guitar to hang onto. There were two cameramen and
three cameras, that swooped while the song was going on, to
get different angles. The producers were off to the side,
managing everything. We were very quiet, waiting for the
countdown to begin. Looking up into the monitors, we could
see him, and realized that this eventually would be on the
program. Then, 5...4...3...2...1, and the music began. He
did a great job, and we were so proud of him. I felt like
all of this was a dream. I was appreciative that he was
willing to do this for me, so the song could reach even more
I was given a probable date that this song would be aired,
but was told that it could change if needed. Well, that’s
what happened! Jim and I were at music practice when a phone
call came in that he was on! We missed it! I contacted the
producer the next day, and she, being a very busy person,
had forgotten to inform me. But it would be in their
archives on their internet site. And my interview was never
aired. She paraphrased what I had said, to save time, before
Jim sang the song. A friend videotaped it, and shared it
with us through
Facebook, so all could see it. Later, the
producer sent Jim and me copies of the hour long show for
our enjoyment. Again, I marveled at what God was doing in
getting this song out, to people who need to know.
One of the things the Program Director at Family Life
Network had suggested for me to do was to produce a video of
the song and put it on YouTube, for greater exposure. At
that time, I wasn’t that familiar with what is on YouTube,
or the process of doing a video. I contacted a friend of
mine who owns Paradise Videos. He was excited to help me do
this project. In the weeks that followed, I sat down and
while listening to the song, jotted down scenes and
locations. Little by little, everything came together.
Almost effortlessly! This was fun! And one of the things
that God has blessed me with are wonderful friends who go to
church with me, and who were willing to help me out by being
the actors. I contacted store owners, a police chief, and
church personnel, as I wanted to use their property in the
video, and everyone was very cooperative. When we filmed in
Brookville, the temperature was way below freezing. But it
was perfect for filming purposes. I chose its Main Street
area because of the beautifully decorated storefronts, and
the life sized manger scene that the Christian Book and Gift
store was going to have displayed in its storefront window.
We had a great time that day, and there was anticipation
among my friends as I explained to them what I wanted them
to do. They were born actors and didn’t even realize it! We
filmed shoppers walking by a manger scene, a homeless man
and a lady who needed help with her shopping bags. At the
end of the video shooting, in the distance, a man can be
seen, pulling a cart as he went through the garbage
containers along the sidewalk. Real life here. Scenes at my
church were done next, involving the band, the Christmas
tree decorators, an injured man in the wheelchair, a mother
and her child, and a lady being served at the Bowls of Love
food ministry that we do. Throughout the video, there are
also still scenes. One is a beautiful wall mural of Jesus,
which is in the sanctuary of the Evangelical Covenant Church
in Ridgway. Another is the stunning stained glass panel of
Jesus with children, found in the sanctuary of St. Marys
Catholic Church. Outside scenes were captured of the festive
Christmas lights that line the downtown area in St. Marys.
The final filming is perhaps the most dramatic in the whole
video. This was done at my church, and it involved Pastor
Chris Kindle and the congregation. This scene is played out
during the Bridge in the song, and reveals what the Bible
says will happen in the near future. The first time I
watched this scene, I gasped. Even though I knew exactly
what was about to happen, it still touched me in a way I
can’t explain. A friend who participated in this scene later
told me it was the worst thing that she can think of that
could happen to anyone.
The Bible tells us that God doesn’t want anyone to perish.
He wants everyone to believe in Him and to accept Him as
Lord and Savior. The Bible also tells us that we are in the
end times, and very soon, things are about to change that
will impact men of all nations. So, the question that still
remains to be asked is: Who needs to know?