I was thinking about some of the preachers who have made an impact in my life – and really there are many. I’ve asked several people if they would compose a blogpost about the minister that changed their life. Watch your favorite bloggers to see if they join in. Also, you feel free to compose a post for your blog about the minister that blessed you enough to remain significant in your mind.
I already know I’m going to write more than one post on this subject. Today’s post is to remember the first minister that was present and effective during my formative years.
I grew up attending the Barton Avenue Church of Christ in Luling, Louisiana. It was there that I was baptized one November night just before my 13th birthday. I still remember a lot of the people in that small church. It’s been several years since I’ve been there and I’m afraid I haven’t kept up with the people there. In a “small world” situation I learned years later that my friend Bobby Valentine was the minister there sometime after I moved away. That was before I knew him.
The first preacher I really remember was Richard Travis. Richard and Nancy were so nice to me, and I remember enjoying spending time with them. It was during Richard’s time there that Lads to Leaders was established. I remember going to the Belle Chase church and meeting Jack Zorn. From that time on, we didn’t just have classes… we were preparing. Richard had me speak at the Rotary Club on the subject Why I’m Glad to be an American. I’m sure that my 13 year old perception of that subject left something to be desired, but I was encouraged by those men gathered there. It was apparent to me – even then – that I would want to do this with my life.
A group of us preacher boys traveled to the Louisa Street Church of Christ in New Orleans. This large African American congregation was led by Rudolph James for many years. He took us little white boys into his office and talked to us for a few minutes while the singing started. I don’t remember what he said, I was just in awe of this brother and his kindness to us. Then we joined him as we walked down the middle aisle during worship to the front row. When it was my turn I was ‘preaching’ and the most amazing thing happened. The entire congregation was shouting Amen and That’s Right. I’ll never forget being scared I’d say the wrong thing and the congregation might shout, Um…No…that’s not right! But that gathering of Saints made me feel like an orator, and I will always remember that.
It was during Richard’s time at BACOC that he took me on visits and talked to me about life and ministry. I remember one visit to a paranoid schizophrenic lady who wouldn’t let us in because if she opened the door THEY would come in too. You know, the people in the bushes!
There were several active members during that time, and I’m sure they were all involved in many things that the young people did. Woody and Dorothy Wood taught and loved us. The Welches and the Bruces … I shouldn’t try to name people – I’ll never name them all. A dear friend and favorite, Dennis Dufrene was killed by a drunk driver sometime after I moved away. That tragedy robbed the church of a wonderful Christian. The Pierre family were delightful and I appreciated hugs from Ella Mae. Some are no longer active, some no longer living.
But it was Richard who baptized me. You know, I wasn’t privy to all the church ‘stuff’ that goes on (thank God) and I don’t know why Richard and Nancy moved away. I think they moved to Tennessee.
Once while I was at college Richard called the dorm where I was. I wasn’t there and he didn’t leave a return number. I never heard from him again. I’m glad he knew I was studying to be a preacher. He was a big part of that decision. Occasionally I’ve done Google searches for him, asked around in church of Christ forums online, but no one knows him. Maybe someone who knows what happened to him will run across this post and let me know.
Richard Travis passed the torch to a young boy in his church. I won’t ever forget that.
Thanks for reading,