My Top 10 favorite stories of 2007
But the most important stories weren’t necessarily the most inspiring or the most fun to do.
So, I thought I’d offer you an “online exclusive” list of my Top 10 personal favorite Chronicle stories from 2007. (Our site now has a neat little comments section, so I’d invite my fellow staff members to offer their own personal Top 10 lists. And I’d welcome reflections from you, as well, kind reader.)
• 10. Rich in spirit, poor in funds for retirement
This wasn’t a feel-good story, but I felt good about the Chronicle shedding a little light on this important subject. We received a number of appreciative responses from readers.
• 9. Virginia Tech massacre challenges young campus minister
The terrible tragedy in Blacksburg, Va., was voted the No. 1 news story of the year by The Associated Press. I happened to be in Washington, D.C., a few weeks after the massacre and drove down to meet Seth Terrell, who is featured in this story. Not only did I enjoy a burger at Mike’s Grill (mentioned in the story), but it was wonderful spending time with Seth and community minister Tom Gilliam and hearing — and later sharing — their story firsthand.
• 8. 18 preachers, 12 songleaders and one God
My wife, three children and I had the privilege of attending this important assembly. The Chronicle had a booth at the event, and we got to meet a lot of readers as well as see old friends from the McDermott Road church in Plano, Texas, where we worshiped before moving back to Oklahoma City in 2005.
• 7. Marshall football heroes welcomed home
We at the Chronicle are blessed to report many of our stories “from the scene.” In this case, I reported the story over the phone. But it was no less encouraging to learn about how this congregation used the “We Are Marshall” movie’s opening to share Jesus with its community. And, yes, I enjoyed the movie – which I went to see after the story had already gone to press. I gave it three out of four stars. Smile.
• 6. Bright Angels work to save Sin City and Dry land, fertile soil
The entire Ross clan – all five of us – flew out West to Phoenix as we worked on the Churches That Work feature on the Canyon church. We drove our rental van through the desert to Las Vegas to do the Bright Angels story. Despite the record-breaking, 120-degree heat that welcomed our arrival, we were so blessed by all the dedicated Christians we met in both places.
• 5. Hundreds of ‘foot soldiers’ toil to save souls in Tampa
On the professional side, this was an important story that the Chronicle had missed in the past, so it was fulfilling to cover it this time. On the personal side, my 8-year-old daughter, Kendall, made the trip with me. We hit every breakfast place in town (Waffle House, Denny’s, IHOP, etc.) regardless of time of day and found a few hours to splash in the ocean. Father-and-daughter time doesn’t get much better!
• 4. On a mission at Orange Avenue
No, I didn’t have time to visit Disney World on this trip. But I did sneak away one day to Fort Myers, Fla., to interview Minnesota Twins bench coach Steve Liddle at spring training. The best part of the Churches That Work feature on the Orange Avenue church was spending time with Joe and Judy Roberts, who housed me for three nights, and meeting James Moore, the president of Mount Dora Christian Home and Bible School, who is a true giant among Florida church leaders.
• 3. Lift every voice and sing
The first-ever international symposium on a cappella singing certainly was newsworthy. But it sure didn’t hurt that it occurred at a picturesque university overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Tamie and I left our kids in the capable care of Mom and Dad and spent three nights in a Pepperdine apartment.
• 2. Rural revival
A story of love. A story of sacrifice and forgiveness. A story of the Savior at work. It was a true pleasure to tell the story of the Remmel church and its revival.
And, drum roll please …
• 1. Muslims, Hindus among students exposed to Jesus at Christian schools
I had never been to Pennsylvania before flying there to work on this story. I came home inspired by the work for Jesus occurring at this small Christian school far from the Bible Belt. In other important news from this trip, I stayed with Mark and Bev Niehls, who let me try a piece of shoofly pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yummy!