Tag: travel

South Carolina church battles opioid ‘emergency’

South Carolina church battles opioid ‘emergency’

Addicts find love, hope — and Jesus — through ministries focused on recovery and discipleship.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C.Opioids, meet Jesus.

The drugs behind a crisis that President Donald Trump characterizes as a “national emergency” are no match for the savior of the world.

That’s the message at the Grand Strand Church of Christ, which has become a haven for prodigal sons — and daughters — caught up in addiction.

“The whole congregation kind of took me in and just showed me as much love as they can,” said Jordan Taylor, a recovering heroin addict who served prison time for drug crimes. “I went through ups and downs, and they’d always accept me with open arms.

“They would never judge me or anything like that,” added Taylor, who was baptized after showing up for the church’s Celebrate Recovery program and studying the Bible.

The church in this beach town battles an epidemic — linked to opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers like oxycodone and fentanyl — that has caused drug overdoses to skyrocket nationally.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the September 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Elvis Week reading: Faithful hordes still swarming the King’s castle

Elvis Week reading: Faithful hordes still swarming the King’s castle

From the archives: Lead story of package my wife and I wrote at 20th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.

By Bobby Ross Jr. and Tamie Ross| The Oklahoman

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Goose bumps formed just below James Hubert’s earphones as he followed the Graceland Mansion tour group into the dining room.

As Priscilla Presley recounted on audiotape how Elvis Presley chomped southern cooking, played poker and swapped stories in this room, the Lawton man passed from commercialized present to nostalgic past.

Suddenly, there at the head of the eight-foot table, Hubert could see him.

Him.

“Man,” Hubert said, “Elvis walked through here eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich.”

‘Promised Land’

The king of rock ‘n’ roll left the building 20 years ago.

When Presley died Aug. 16, 1977, at age 42, Hubert didn’t qualify as an Elvis fan.

Then a 17-year-old high school student, he banged his head to Van Halen and KISS – the hard stuff.

But as the 20th anniversary of Presley’s death approached, the Lawton city equipment operator stepped into Elvis’ world.

He was far from alone.

Twenty years after Elvis’ death from an accidental drug overdose, the King maintains his throne.

Read the full package.

These stories appeared in the Aug. 10, 1997, and Aug. 11, 1997, editions of The Oklahoman.

For preachers, a textual feast inside Austin city limits

For preachers, a textual feast inside Austin city limits

Sermon Seminar affords spiritual — and physical — food.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

AUSTIN, Texas — Welcome to the Lone Star state capital, home of the South by Southwest Festival and the Keep Austin Weird Fest & 5K.

A lesser-known annual festival: the Gourmet Preachers Tour, conducted during the Austin Sermon Seminar.

The informal tour involves a dozen or so minister friends. It usually starts with Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que. Favorites such as Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen and Chuy’s Tex-Mex follow. Don’t forget nightly visits to Amy’s Ice Creams.

“We emphasize fellowship,” said Larry Roberts, minister for the Daugherty Street Church of Christ in Eastland, Texas.

“A lot of it has to do with the psalm that talks about oil flowing down Aaron’s beard, I think,” quipped Greg Fleming, minister for the North A Church of Christ in Midland, Texas, referring to Psalm 133:2.

Joking aside, it’s not really the food — but rather the chance to feast on God’s word — that keeps these preachers returning to Central Texas.

For 36 years, the Austin Graduate School of Theology has hosted the Sermon Seminar.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the July 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Before baby bird leaves the nest, a trip to remember

Before baby bird leaves the nest, a trip to remember

A father and soon-to-fly-away daughter enjoy a travel adventure north of the U.S. border.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

TORONTO — “A six-hour layover, eh?”

I posted that wisecrack on Facebook as my 17-year-old daughter, Kendall, and I awaited a connecting flight.

It was early afternoon on a snowy, late winter day at Toronto Pearson International Airport. My youngest child and I were in the middle of a four-city, 20-hour travel adventure that was part work and part something deeper.

The work part is easy to explain: I was chasing stories — as I love to do — for The Christian Chronicle.

The something deeper part requires more explanation: I was trying — as much as possible — to create memories that will sustain me (and keep the tears from overwhelming me) as my baby bird grows up and flies away.

In just a few months, this intelligent young woman — who is every bit as sassy, charming and fun to be around as her mother and every bit as driven, argumentative and (sometimes) insecure as her father — is leaving home. She’s decided to attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

I couldn’t be more proud of her.

She studied hard, made top grades and was honored as one of her high school’s valedictorians. She joined our home congregation, the Edmond Church of Christ in Oklahoma, on mission trips to Mexico, Nicaragua, Utah and Colorado. She starred in school plays and excelled in debate. She taught herself to knit and worked at a yarn store. In fact, she made me a black cap for this trip.

She plans to major in political science and history and then, at some point, become president of the United States.

In my mind, though, she’s still the little girl with a red hair bow who would stand by the bathroom door and watch me shave. She’d see the white cream on my cheeks and pretend I was Santa Claus. “Daddy, will you buy me a present?” she loved to ask.

Read the full column.

This column appears in the June 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Reporting news that informs and inspires — in all 50 states

Reporting news that informs and inspires — in all 50 states

The Christian Chronicle’s Bobby Ross Jr. celebrates faith-filled milestone.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

FAITH, S.D. — After chasing stories all over the United States, I found Faith — a town in South Dakota with a population of 421.

With my recent trip to the Dakotas, I reached a personal goal: reporting for The Christian Chronicle from all 50 states and the nation’s capital.

What a blessing for me and, I pray, for our loyal readers who love news that informs, inspires and unites Churches of Christ!

Some of my favorite memories:

1. Getting to know faithful inmates inside prison walls in Alabama.

2. Witnessing the unity of Christians at a statewide lectureship in Alaska.

3. Hearing the resilience in Arizona Christians’ voices after a church member died in a mass shooting.

Read the full column.

This column appears in the October 2016 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Amid massive biker rally, Bible camp thrives

Amid massive biker rally, Bible camp thrives

Deep in the Black Hills National Forest, Christians from the Dakotas and beyond renew ties and enjoy fellowship.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

DEADWOOD, S.D. — Revving engines of Harleys, Yamahas and Kawasakis are the first clue you’re getting close to Black Hills Bible Camp.

For a half-century, the youth and family camp has brought together members of Churches of Christ during the same week as the world-famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

“It’s a little piece of heaven,” said Dustri Brown, 33, who met her future husband, Lance, at the Bible camp when she was 9 and he was 8. “You’re singing and praising God. The worldly things don’t matter. It’s the joy of being together with fellow Christians.”

Each August, the motorcycle rally attracts an estimated 500,000 people to the southwestern region of South Dakota — and thousands of bikers cruise U.S. Highway 385 near the turnoff for the camp.

About 15 minutes south of Deadwood — around the time you see a green sign that says Mount Rushmore is 39 miles away — you reach a gravel road shrouded by yellow pines that stretch 80 to 100 feet high.

Four miles of bumpy twists and turns inside the Black Hills National Forest lead you past an outdoor swimming hole, over a little bridge and — finally — to the kitchen, the chapel and the wooden cabins that serve as the weeklong home for nearly 200 Christians from the Dakotas and nine other states.

From the campers, you hear conflicting stories about why Black Hills Bible Camp always coincides with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the September 2016 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Blessings flow as Pearl of a church is saved

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Blessings flow as Pearl of a church is saved: Funds raised to buy Hawaii church’s land from military.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

A Hawaiian honeymoon sounded perfect, so Neil and Carolyn Myers decided to fly for the first time.

Taking off, they were a little apprehensive.

“We just held hands and said, ‘Lord, you may be taking us, but we’re coming together,’” Neil Myers joked.

Did I mention that — by the time the couple got around to a honeymoon — they were in their mid-70s and had been married for 57 years?

Their trip came a year and a half ago, but it brought an experience they won’t soon forget. “I’m thoroughly convinced the Lord had a hand in this,” said Neil Myers, a retired preacher who serves as an elder for the West Walker Church of Christ in Carbon Hill, Ala.

What made their island trek so memorable? Not the sand or the waves. Not the tour of historic Pearl Harbor. Not even the travel at 35,000 feet.

Rather, the couple’s introduction to the Church of Christ at Pearl Harbor — a close-knit congregation that has served an estimated 3,000 military personnel and their families over the last 60 years — made a lasting impression.

“We spent the Lord’s day with them,” Neil Myers said. “We were impressed with the worship. It was very spiritual, and the lessons were good.”

This story appears in the May 2016 edition of The Christian Chronicle.