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Bible conferences, Love’s Travel Stops and time on the road with Dad

Flying is faster, but an interstate journey can be full of adventure.

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HENDERSON, Tenn. — I love road trips.

Except for all the driving. And the long days on the highway. And the would-be NASCAR stars weaving in and out of traffic.

Seriously, I like cranking up my country music playlist and seeing America’s farms and high-rises through my car’s windows.

When reporting for The Christian Chronicle, I usually fly. But for a recent 800-mile journey from Oklahoma to Texas to Arkansas to Tennessee, getting behind the wheel made more sense.

I picked up my father, Bob Ross (the preacher, not the painter), in Fort Worth. We headed to the Prestoncrest Church of Christ in Dallas for the Telling the Story Conference on Evangelism and Church Growth.

Attendees stand to sing at the Telling the Story Conference on Evangelism and Church Growth at Prestoncrest Church of Christ in Dallas.

Attendees stand to sing during the Telling the Story Conference on Evangelism and Church Growth at Prestoncrest Church of Christ in Dallas.

In a breakout session, Seth McDowell of the Shawnee Trail Church of Christ in Frisco, Texas, focused on baptism’s importance to Jesus and the early church.

But McDowell captured my attention by quoting from Carrie Underwood’s hit song “Something in the Water”:

And now I’m singing all along to “Amazing Grace”

Can’t nobody wipe this smile off my face

Got joy in my heart, angels on my side

Thinking about it, I saw the Lord

Gonna look ahead, no turning back

Live every day, give it all that I have

Trusted someone bigger than me

Ever since the day that I believed

I am changed, and now I’m stronger

There must be something in the water

Amen, and thank God for country music!

Sammie Berry, minister and elder of the Dallas West Church of Christ, taught on building confidence in sharing one’s faith. I first met Berry after Dallas West member Botham Jean was killed in 2018, and I enjoyed seeing him again.

That Saturday afternoon, Dad and I drove to Texarkana, Ark., and stayed all night.

Then we got up at 5 a.m. and headed to Memphis, Tenn., in time to worship with the Northeast Side Church of Christ, where my friends Jimmy Stokes II and Matt Carter serve. They were surprised but happy to see us.

Minister Jimmy Stokes II makes the opening announcements at a recent Sunday assembly of the Northeast Side Church of Christ.

Minister Jimmy Stokes II makes the opening announcements at a recent Sunday assembly of the Northeast Side Church of Christ.

We ate lunch in West Tennessee with my uncle Kenneth Ross, the only surviving member of Dad’s immediate family.

On Monday, we made our way to Freed-Hardeman University’s Bible Lectureship in Henderson. Dad earned his degree from FHU in 1981.

One day, we attended a Herald of Truth luncheon honoring Milton Sewell, FHU’s chancellor and former president. He’s also a trustee of The Christian Chronicle.

Sewell is always friendly and encouraging. The day he received the Baxter Legacy of Ministry Award, he remained focused on others. He made sure to visit with Dad and me.

I appreciated my FHU friends — including President David Shannon and lectureship director Doug Burleson — inviting me to read a Scripture during a main assembly.

Parker Pearce leads a song during Freed-Hardeman University's Bible Lectureship in Henderson, Tenn.

Parker Pearce leads a song during Freed-Hardeman University’s Bible Lectureship in Henderson, Tenn.

The event’s theme was “For Such a Time as This,” and my assigned text came from Esther 1:10-12 (ESV):

10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus,

11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at.

12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.

Try pronouncing those names in a full auditorium (or an empty one)!

Bobby Ross Jr. and his father, Bob Ross, pose for a photo at Freed-Hardeman's lectureship with Halo and Rhonda Fernandez. Bobby first met Rhonda in 2015 when he wrote about her role caring for her late parents, Jack and Frances Zorn.

Bobby Ross Jr. and his father, Bob Ross, pose for a photo at Freed-Hardeman’s lectureship with Halo and Rhonda Fernandez. Bobby first met Rhonda in 2015 when he wrote about her role caring for her late parents, Jack and Frances Zorn.

But I did my best.

Chapel speaker Matt Miller of the Fountain Head Church of Christ in Portland, Tenn., quipped that he planned to refer simply to “the king” and “the eunuchs.”

I love road trips, but I might need to rest up before the next one.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Dad and I hit the interstate to return home that Wednesday. God blessed us with traveling mercies — and plenty of Love’s Travel Stops for gasoline and restroom breaks.

I’m grateful for the time with my father, who will turn 78 in May.

I love road trips, but I might need to rest up before the next one.

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

Filed under: Bob and Judy Ross Dallas father Freed-Hardeman University Inside Story Memphis Milton Sewell National Opinion Prestoncrest Church of Christ road notes road trips Tennessee Texas Top Stories travel

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