Archive for March 2011

Hampstead, NC

March 29, 2011

Intercoastal WaterwayBonnie and I visited our son Raymond in North Carolina where he is on special duty with the Coast Guard. He invited us to share his four-day pass with him on one of the barrier islands where he leases a condo. We flew two airplanes to the east coast and two airplanes back to Memphis; in every case at each leg of the trip out and back, the Delta flights were “delayed,” sometimes for hours — twice because of maintenance — despite the planes coming to the gates from maintenance hangars! Flights were overbooked with some passengers not getting on the flights. Of course, we missed one flight because of a “delayed” flight. All in all, though, we fared well and had ample opportunity to practice patience.

Intercoastal WaterwayRaymond lives in a home prefaced by a million steps up to the front door, on stilts high above the surface of the sandy ground; inside, sleeping quarters are on the first level, and half a million steps lead to the living room, dining room and kitchen above. Steps are neither my friend with these knees nor friends to Raymond with an injured knee.

Beach on a Barrier IslandRain punctuated the weekend as we walked the ocean beach strewn with sea shells as well as polished pieces of glass and white quartz. Black volcanic pebbles peppered the wet, beige sand. The tide sketched its reach ashore with ash from a nearby forest fire that resisted containment for a week. Besides meaningful time with Raymond, he and we enjoyed a couple tasty meals together at Outback Steakhouse and IHOP.

Beach on a Barrier Island

Thaddeus & Laura FergusonIt was the distinct pleasure of Bonnie and me to meet brethren with whom we were formerly unacquainted. Friday evening, we were treated to refreshments at the home of Thaddeus and Laura Ferguson. They began a congregation of the Lord’s church in Hamptstead, NC three years ago. The congregation meets in a community hall, providing a place for military personnel and vacationers to worship; though small and fledgling, it tries to make inroads in the community with the Gospel of Christ.

On the Lord’s Day, it was my privilege to teach Bible class and preach two sermons. Of course, the fellowship meal was a crowd pleaser with Bonnie and me! I look for a long and sustained relationship with brother and sister Ferguson. Bonnie also received a tentative invitation to speak at a ladies’ retreat in which sister Ferguson is participating.

Raymond & His MotherGood food, family and new friends, how could a weekend be better than that?

Louis & His Son Raymond

Cancer Attacks 4-Year-Old Preacher’s Son

March 21, 2011

For two months, 4-year-old Benjamin Wright has been anemic. A week ago, taken to a doctor’s office, a physician diagnosed the little boy with influenza. The next day, suffering pain, he was taken to a hospital emergency room, whereupon the family was advised that Benjamin had appendicitis, and he was transferred to another hospital. There, the family was told that he had a tumor in his stomach. Upon operating on little Benjamin, surgeons discovered a cancerous mass described as the size of a soccer ball. However, the doctors were unable to remove all of it, and the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Part of Benjamin’s intestine was removed, and cancer is also attached to his bladder. Little Benjamin Wright’s surgical wound was not closed, he is being treated with chemotherapy, and he is being fed intravenously. Benjamin remains in ICU in a Jackson, MS hospital.

 Nathan and Holly Wright, Benjamin’s parents, plus two siblings live in French Camp, MS, where Nathan preaches for the Huntsville Church of Christ and is a coach for the local school. Bonnie and I worshipped with the church recently before the discovery of Benjamin’s sickness. This little boy (and the whole family, too) is so precious as well as exemplary. When I called the Wright home desiring updated information, it was Benjamin’s voice on the answerer that said no one was home, please leave a message; it was difficult to refrain from tearing up.

 Please remember Benjamin Wright and his family in public and private prayers. Anyone desiring to send a get well card may mail it to Benjamin Wright at 1776 Highway 413, French Camp, MS 39745. Anyone desiring to help defray the mounting financial burden to the Wright family may send checks to: Benjamin Wright Fund, Bank of Kilmichael, 509 N. Applegate, Winona, MS 38967.

Big, Big Circle!

March 21, 2011

Ray & Charlotte Weddington Bonnie and I made a big, big circle over the course of Saturday, Sunday and Monday (March 19-21). By 10:00 a.m. Saturday, we had loaded slightly more than 2,000 pounds of boxes (containing over 6,000 books) into a small trailer behind the van and pulled out of Winona, MS. We were traveling to McMinnville, TN northeast across Mississippi, west across Alabama (turning north toward Tennessee at Huntsville, AL). We arrived at our newest B&B, the home of Ray and Charlotte Weddington around 6:00 p.m.; we had been there just two weeks before, and when we are with this lovely couple, they insist that we enjoy their master bedroom, and they wait on us and dine us like we are royalty. They ceaselessly offer us moral and financial support, for which we are humbled and eternally thankful. The remarkable thing is that we were not even speaking for the Pleasant Cove congregation as I had two weeks earlier, but I was speaking for another church in the area, the Smyrna Church of Christ on Sunday evening.

Smyrna Church of ChristThe Smyrna Church of Christ has been and remains a supporter of the foreign radio broadcasts for which World Evangelism is responsible in Asia, and the church has also participated with Bonnie and me financially in our overseas travel. It was my pleasure to make the acquaintance of the brethren there for the first time and to update the congregation about our mission work. After worship that night, Bonnie and I pointed the car, trailer in tow, toward Nashville, stopping in Murfreesboro for the night. Best Western’s “Best” was suffering from several perspectives, from the battered room to the noisy interstate just beyond our threshold. Tolerable yes, but the price would have been more tolerable for a Days Inn or a Motel 6, since the accommodations were comparable.

Cemetary of Smyrna Church of Christ

 6,000 books headed for South AfricaMonday morning, we aimed the van and trailer toward Nashville. The religious books and copies of The Voice of Truth International magazine in our custody were destined first for Healing Hands on behalf of the Crieve Hall Church of Christ, before making their way to brethren in South Africa. Trailer empty, we headed for Winona via Memphis. Bonnie and I made a big, big circle over the course of Saturday, Sunday and Monday, driving 762 miles in 14 hours and 18 minutes plus stops.

 Dear friends and brethren, promoting world evangelism 3,000 miles monthly stateside and distributing Christian literature throughout the world, that’s part of what we do. Bonnie and I may be coming to your congregation soon to invite you to participate with us in taking the Gospel of Christ across the planet; we are making appointments now for 2011 and have some openings remaining. Let us know when it is convenient to come your way (662.739.3035).

March 2010 Issue of Gospel Gazette Online Is Ready

March 18, 2011

Gospel Gazette OnlineAnother issue of Gospel Gazette Online is ready for use worldwide. We have already received numerous replies regarding this issue only hours after announcing that it has been published to the Web. Of this I am sure. I’ll never please everyone, and really, the only one I am trying to please is God (Galatians 1:10-12). Our second goal after glorifying God is to edify ourselves and others; it is our prayer that we have accomplished both goals. You may find Gospel Gazette Online for March 2010 at

I love technology, I hate technology, I hate technology, I…

March 17, 2011

I love technology, I hate technology – I hate technology, I… Monday through Thursday were testy for Bonnie and me because of technological issues. Eligible for many weeks to receive a free upgrade on my Blackberry smart phone, finally I made the switch from the Curve to the Torch. We keep our contacts and destination addresses on it, and the size of the list was approaching capacity of the Curve. In addition, the Torch is faster and easier to use in several respects; it is a world phone, too, which comes in handy when overseas. However, for days no one at AT&T or Blackberry could get the contraption to accept email. Hours on the phone at a time and being passed between four or five customer service representatives was its own gauntlet. Finally, the phone started receiving emails at 10 minutes after noon on Thursday! Yet, another problem immediately challenged patience and technology – every time I synced my phone and my computer I would get a whole another address book on my Torch. Ugggggh!!!!! No one could figure it out at AT&T or Blackberry, including the representative to whom I first talked at the former place who apparently was neither familiar with smart phones nor with what the word sync means. Trial and error on my part and turning off some features, at last I was able to get enough service from syncing to be adequate. For a while after getting the sync process to stop making duplicates, the Blackberry software would make imperfect syncs, making changes to files that I had not made or only syncing part of the address book. I love technology, I hate technology – I hate technology, I…

What Makes Us Tick?Bonnie was fighting her own technological war! A few months ago, we purchased a lifetime map update for our Garmin GPS for the price of an annual update. Great, right? We noticed that the GPS started telling us that it had maps a year old, indicating the update made a few months ago was really unsuccessful. Ugggggh!!!!! So, we attempted to download the most recent updated maps, but the GPS refused to update from my computer. GPS indicated that it was willing to and successfully updated from Bonnie’s computer (they are identical). Great, right? So, off we go on a five hour afternoon ride to the Walnut Grove Church of Christ in Benton, KY. On the road and headed roughly in the correct direction, GPS informs us that there are no maps available. Well, we have an atlas in the car; no problem, right? The GPS has spoiled us, and with complex turns and trying to identify street address destinations with which we are not familiar, GPS is much appreciated – when it is right. We found our supper appointment, in part with the aid of my Blackberry Torch, on which just the night before I had downloaded Google maps. It’s not the audible turn by turn directions or visual map for the driver of the GPS, but it was a valuable tool. However, it could not find the church building, and I got turned around twice with little time to spare. As it happens, our hostess for supper left her home after we did and arrived at the meetinghouse before we did! The Walnut Grove Church of Christ received us well, and we had the opportunity to deliver to them instead of ship to them the 50 copies of our daughter Rebecca’s book, What Makes Us Tick?

 We drove back to Rebecca’s home in Collierville, TN to spend the night. Rebecca found it odd to pack a bag at our house to go on a trip with us and to spend the night at her own house while on the way back to our home in Winona, MS. She is on spring break from teaching school. Thursday, we made our way back to Winona, after breakfast at Cracker Barrel (order messed up; male waiters I’ve found mess up service jobs more often than females – must be in our genes). Next we got a badly needed bath for the faithful car, got the oil changed (not really a 10-minute oil change as it turned out – surprise, surprise!), bought some flowers and stopped at Best Buy to get a computer component that I’ll have to return because it can’t do what I had hoped it would do. We still got back to Winona to be in the office by 2:00 p.m. There we continued to work on various projects including our March newsletter (which we mailed Friday).

 We love technology, we hate technology – we hate technology, we…Bonnie next spent hours on the phone trying to resolve the issue with the GPS. Finally, after must frustration, we think it is working again and accepted the map update. We will see shortly on our next trip out of Winona. We love technology, we hate technology – we hate technology, we…At the same time, Bonnie’s cell phone has been turning itself off, freezing up, dropping a lot of calls and echoing. It’s still under warranty, and AT&T customer support agreed it needed to be replaced, but the warranty department drug it out for days, resisting replacing the phone. Finally, AT&T shipped Bonnie part of a phone, which if she would take pieces from the dysfunctional phone and put them together, she would have a phone again. We love technology, we hate technology – we hate technology, we… Ugggggh!!!!! You can quote me if you like, “Ugggggh!!!!!”

 By the way, it’s late Friday night, and we are leaving on a pilgrimage tomorrow, Sunday and Monday. I wonder if GPS will work; I hope so.

Alabama on My Mind

March 13, 2011

Rogersville, ALAlabama on my mind it seems led us to Leighton, AL on March 13-14. Our hosts were Daniel and Joan Counts, with whom we stay each time we visit the Leighton Church of Christ. Usually when we return to a place, we can anticipate what or where we will eat; this time, though, instead of the catfish dinner we surmised was on our supper menu, Bonnie and I were treated to steak dinners at a unique, local restaurant (Stanfields Steak House). From the time we arrived in the Counts home, Bella, the miniature dachshund befriended us – more like insisted that we both give her non-stop caresses; she laid between us on the couch and used her snout to lift our hands to petting her once more if we faltered. The little congregation received us well and is well attended by a delightfully charming young preacher family. The Leighton Church of Christ subscribes to The Voice of Truth International for the congregation; Bonnie does much of the layout and writes for it; I am one of the Editors, proofer, help with layout, prepare it for use by the printing company and make the digital files available. Last before leaving “LA” (Leighton, AL) as people in northern Alabama call it, we ate at the local diner with brother Daniel and sister Joan.

Postcard Perfect!

March 10, 2011

Minature Church BuildingSome sights are staggeringly beautiful. Often those are the making of postcards and tourism pitches. This miniature church building on private property in Double Springs, Alabama, with the flowering trees showcasing it, is postcard perfect, don’t you agree. It has miniature benches inside, too. It is a perfect location, for instance, to have a youth devotional.

Four States Today

March 9, 2011

Lectureship DisplayBonnie and I awoke today in Knoxville, TN, where we have been since late Sunday night, attending the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions (ETSPM) lectureship. Warmly received by the faculty and students, we also renewed acquaintances and further developed relationships with brethren who at least have a passing interest in our world missions and publishing ministry. Bonnie and I set up and attended two tables – one World Evangelism table and one J.C. Choate/Louis Rushmore Publications table. We gave away hundreds of copies of Voice of Truth International magazine as well as numerous copies of the Global Harvest magazine and my Beverage Alcohol book. We sold some books, but Bonnie and I each gave away several titles to school of preaching students and their wives plus faculty. In addition, we sent cases of books and magazines by way of brother Tom Holland to the Nashville Bible School. We left an ample supply of tracts and magazines for use by the Karns Church of Christ, which hosts ETSPM.

 We closed out our displays and packed up midmorning on Wednesday so I could get back to Greenwood, MS to teach Bible class that evening. That is an eight-hour drive with little time to spare! In the process of traveling to West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, Bonnie and I traveled through parts of four states today: Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

 Bonnie’s ringtone on her cell phone is Willie Nelson singing On the Road Again. Initially, brethren laugh when they hear that, but then they say “Oh” and nod in understanding. We are – on the road, again!

Yes, We Are on the Road Again

March 6, 2011

Pleasant Cove Church of ChristBonnie and I left the School of Missions in Double Springs, AL a little early in order to meet up with Charlotte and Ray Weddington for a Cracker Barrel supper that evening in Manchester, TN. Brother and sister Weddington are always so gracious to us, great encouragers and contributors to our missionary labors. Further, they lodge us in their home each time we come to McMinnville, TN. Sunday morning, Bonnie and I were with the Pleasant Cove Church of Christ, where I updated the congregation on our overseas trips in 2010 for the Bible class and preached during the worship. Bingo! A fellowship meal followed morning worship; only a few weeks ago we happened on two congregations that had fellowship meals on the same day. Sunday evening, we were received well by the Centertown Church of Christ, who coincidently, also had a fellowship meal following evening worship. Bingo! We don’t really plan our appointments around fellowship meals despite what some brethren jokingly say.

Moral support, prayers and financial participation, large or small, frequent or infrequent, make what we do for the cause of Christ possible. At around 8:00 p.m. CST, Bonnie and I headed for Knoxville, TN and the home of Evelyn and Jody Apple; we arrived at 11:30 p.m. EST. Jody is one of the faculty members of the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions, whose annual lectureship Bonnie and I were attending. Staying in the homes of dear brethren is cost effective (for us as well as the church) and it permits us to deepen our bonds with brothers and sisters in Christ.

School of Missions

March 5, 2011

 Packed for the LectureshipFriday morning, March 4th Bonnie and I loaded the car at the house with clothes that we anticipated needing Saturday for the School of Missions, Sunday while away at speaking appointments and through Wednesday while at the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions lectures. (Not until days later, however, Bonnie realized that she forgot a day’s worth of hanging clothes! Remember my tie in a zip lock bag in the car to be opened in case of emergency? We just might need to invest in some more zip lock bags of various sizes.) Next, we stuffed into the van display material for World Evangelism and boxes of books for our appointments and the lectureship; wall to wall and nearly floor to ceiling, we kept everything in place with ratcheted straps so that it would not tip over or come to visit us up front if we had to stop suddenly. Had we picked up any hitchhikers, they would have had to cling to the luggage rack.

 Dennis LarsonWe rendezvoused with Dennis and Sharon Larson in Double Springs, AL for our lodging arraignments and to enjoy supper together. We and others congregated Saturday at the Double Springs, AL Church of Christ facilities for the monthly School of Missions seminar. On this occasion, there were two special treats for everyone in attendance. The long awaited Mission Training Manual just arrived from the printing company; it has been five years in careful preparation, besides being the most practical application and instruction manual for foreign missions of which I am aware. Coupled with that, brother Larson made an outstanding presentation by offering definitive and workable recommendations for effective overseas evangelism.

 Mission Training ManualThe World Evangelism School of Mission Training Manual curriculum was painstakingly developed over a period of two years. The next two years, the curriculum was thoroughly tested on World Evangelism team members and others who were invited to participate in this shakedown, out-of-the-box test run. Now, the first class hosted by a congregation is about to successfully complete the school curriculum. The procedure for preparation in world missions involves the Mission Training Manual plus augmentation of each class session with experienced missionary instruction. Though School of Mission sessions are conducted by World Evangelism Team members and hosted by various congregations, Mission Training Manual is extensive enough to be used effectively in congregations, schools of preaching and Bible colleges without World Evangelism Team members.