Just over two years ago, Andrew, Tanner, and Alexander Skelton failed to return home to their mother after spending part of Thanksgiving Day with their father. The father remained silent on their whereabouts as search teams combed the area, both in Morenci, Michigan, and in the Pioneer, Holiday City and rural Montpelier areas. Residents committed their time to the search and were shocked that such a disappearance had happened in such close proximity to there homes. It was unthinkable that three boys could just disappear with no clue as to where they were. To this day, they have not been found.
On December 30, 2013, Steve Bridgmon of the Christian Gospel group Firm Foundation Quartet debuted a song dedicated to the Skelton brothers at the Living Hope Free Methodist Church in West Unity, Ohio. The song begins;
“An empty swing, a vacant chair.
I look for you, but you’re not there.
I close my eyes and see your face.
My love for you, time cannot erase.”
Sitting in the audience were Tanya Zuvers, mother of the boys, and their grandparents Beverly and Don Zuvers. Following Bridgmon’s moving rendition of the song, audience members were filled with emotion. Pastor Dave Mathis said that Don and Bev’s hands were raised in worship during the song, and that as soon as Bridgmon completed the song, Don came to the front and hugged the singer. It was, Mathis recalled, “a very moving and emotional moment.” Grandparents Bev and Don Zuvers are members of the church as well as the Skelton brothers’ aunt Tennille McCain.
Asked for his thoughts on the song, Don Zuvers said that when he learned that Bridgmon was writing a song to bring awareness about his grandsons’ disappearance, his first reaction was “wow – that somebody would take time to do that…God works in funny ways. (The song is) one great way this is working for us.” When he heard the song being performed it was “overwhelming to think that Steve would do something like that for this little town (Morenci, Michigan). There wasn’t a dry eye in our church.” The Zuvers have been attending Living Hope for a little over a year, but met Bridgmon at a church event about two years ago, and that he is “just a super guy.”
Mr. Zuver has been working ever since their grandsons disappeared to bring national attention to their plight. This song is one way to raise awareness. “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh recently spent time with the Zuvers and in Morenci, Michigan, preparing a story for his new program “John Walsh Investigates.” It is expected to air later in January, or in the beginning of February. Mr. Zuvers hopes that someone will hear the song or see the broadcast and recognize the boys. He prays that every effort to get information out will lead to his grandsons’ return.
Steve Bridgmon described how he learned of the Skelton boys and how he became inspired to write the song.
“Being on the road all year long, you get to know a lot of people. I get approached by people all the time asking for prayer, or just someone who needs a friend to talk to. It’s usually about praying for a loved one who has never come to the Lord or about a sickness they or someone they are close to has been diagnosed. But a little over a year and a half ago, a young lady (Tennille Zuvers McCain) came to the product table with tears in her eyes carrying a poster with 3 boys on the front. The word MISSING caught my eye. I knew at that moment that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary chat. This was something different. I remember listening to the young lady speak of her nephews and the horrific story of their disappearance. The absolute searing desperation in her voice got my attention. When I returned home to Kentucky, I put the posters on my kitchen counter and being honest, I looked at them every day for almost a year straight. What is it that I could do? I often asked myself. Social networking has kept people in touch with just about anyone we need to speak to at any time. Seeing the postings about the boys from the family and keeping updated was as far as I had really been able to be part of this situation. But there in the back of my mind God kept speaking to me, I wasn’t sure why or how I could be of any help. Did I want to help? Sure, but what did I know about finding 3 boys almost 400 miles away? Then this past December the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School took place. The moment it happened I had kindergartners in my room, that’s how close to home it hit me. The innocence of a child and their lack of ability to defend themselves kept going through my mind. I immediately started researching the Skelton case and just what the details were. I somewhat felt ashamed that I had been asked to help, but really hadn’t done anything for almost a year other than reshare statuses, pictures, etc. This wasn’t enough and I knew it.
I was at dinner with a friend the day after the Sandy Hook incident and I brought up the boys missing. I said to my friend, “I just don’t know what it is that I could do other than talk about the boys in concert and hang pictures in churches and venues as we go.” My friend looked straight at me and said “When all else fails, you do what you know….you sing about it!” *lightbulb*
I woke up in the middle of the night that night and the words “where you are” came to me…and the first part of the chorus. For two days I sat and wrote…scratched out lyrics, wrote some more…made sure there wasn’t any insensitivity issues in the lyrics, which was something very, very important to me. My completely and utter assumption in writing the lyrics and melody of the song was that they are still out there someplace. As long as there are no answers, the only option is to keep looking. I remember getting to the tag (bridge) of the song and getting stumped. This was something I rarely do when I’m on a roll. I quickly grabbed my phone and texted my good friend Paul VanHorn in Seattle, Washington and said “hey man I need some help on a tag line”…so I sang what I already had into my phone and emailed it to him. He quickly changed some of the tag and helped me by researching some of news stories and before long the song was finished. My friend Paul VanHorn is listed as a co-writer on the song. He’s a natural lyricist and does so much research to make sure the correct words are used. Once I got his blessing on lyrics, we rushed into the studio and laid down the vocals. I contacted Pastor Dave Mathis to let him know to invite some of the family that would want to come to the December 30 concert where the group would sing the song for the first time. I honestly had no idea that this would turn into something special. My original intent was to bring some sort of comfort to the family through words for just that night. Did we expect to record it? no. Did we expect to release it to national radio? No. But God did. God knew. God has a plan and I’m so happy to be part of that plan.”
“Where You Are” is set for official release as a single on January 19, but is available for listening on the ReverbNation website at www.reverbnation.com/firmfoundationquartet .
In a January 9, 2013, posting on his Facebook site, Steve Bridgman wrote, “In less than 24 hours, “Where You Are” has topped the ReverbNation Christian/Gospel Chart at #1. This is dedicated to Andrew, Tanner, and Alexander Skelton. May love lead you home.”
Pastor Mathis said that Bridgmon was first invited to sing at the church in 2007. He was suggested as a performer for their annual Homecoming event by Ann Downey, and has since become a fixture at both their Homecoming and at their New Year’s Eve events. He will return to sing at the church either August 10 or 11, 2013. The exact date has yet to be decided.
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