After Richard Travis moved away from Luling, Louisiana a new preacher came to town. His name was Dallas Lockhart. I liked him immediately for his friendly demeanor, big smile, lovely wife, and his printing press. Dallas had a son (and family) who lived in Luling, so it was neat to have him as our preacher.
Dallas was very different from Richard, but I thought highly of them both. Dallas liked to get loud in his preaching … and plain. But you never got the impression that he didn’t love you. He had a talent for printing and brought along with him a printing press. The bulletins and materials we received took on a new life. He did printing for area congregations as well.
Dallas loved gospel singing and was an accomplished song leader. He still used the pitch fork … tapping it against his hand, holding it to his ear, running his Do Re Me scale before each song. He even assembled a little chorus and taught me to sing tenor – which I enjoy but I’m not too good at.
As a teenager we often went to Harding University for Spring Sing. The Bruce family had relatives nearby and we stayed on their farm before heading to the dorms. It was my intent to attend Harding University as a student. One day (back in Luling) after worship Dallas asked me if I had ever heard of Magnolia Bible College. I indicated that I had not. He was receiving a paper called the Magnolia Messenger, and in it was information about this small college in central Mississippi.
My dad and brother and I traveled to Kosicusko, Mississippi to visit this college. It was closer to home, much smaller, and I didn’t have any intention of going there. The first person I met was Bobby Anderson. (His daughter and her family now live in Monroe!). Bobby shook my hand for five minutes while he welcomed me there. I think the second person I met was Paul Franks, who talked with us about admissions. Paul was one of the first graduates of the college – and the son of the editor of the Magnolia Messenger. There was something friendly and comfortable about that little college, and I changed my mind about Harding. Actually I thought I’d transfer to Harding after a few years, but that didn’t happen.
I tell you that because Dallas shifted my life the day he mentioned Magnolia Bible College. And I believe that to be providential.
Interestingly, when Dallas was ready to leave Luling he moved to a little country church in Attala County Mississippi – the home of Magnolia Bible College. He brought his printing press with him of course. Soon he was doing printing for MBC and was a regular fixture around campus. It brought me great joy to see someone who was so influential in my life spreading joy at my alma mater.
Dallas and Evelyn now live in West Virginia. He has a FaceBook page but I’m not sure he has ever posted anything on it. Recently I noted people wishing him well following surgery. When he first signed on to FaceBook he left me a message wanting to know what happened to my hair. That’s pot talking to the kettle if you know what I mean!
Dallas, I don’t know if you’ll see this … but thank you for your wonderful work in that small church in South Louisiana. I don’t know how you affected everyone else, but you certainly taught a teenage boy a thing or two about preaching, singing, and the love of Christ. I still love you and Evelyn.
Thanks for reading. I encourage you to post a Passing the Torch post on your blog. Here are some others who have shared good things about a minister in their past.