Creekbank Blog

The writing blog of Curt Iles and Creekbank Stories. Our mission: To connect hearts to God by using stories of encouragement and inspiration.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The first inside page of A Good Place


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blog Readers,

We've made a change on the Creekbank blog.

To tie in with our new and updated website at, Creekbank blog is now imbedded on the home page of the website.

Our old blog, which you're now on, will continue to be available for reading at

New posts will be featured at www.creekbank.

Click on the to see the latest posts including information on my newest novel, A Good Place.

Writing for a Reason,



Monday, November 09, 2009

Yesterday while walking, DeDe and I saw a coral snake. It was about 18 inches long.

I thought about this fine snake story printed below. Enjoy!

Red Touch Yellow, Kill a Fellow

From Stories from the Creekbank by Curt Iles copyright 2000 Creekbank Stories

For the fourth time I go back to my seat in the tabernacle. Four hundred and fifty G.A. girls sit in rapt attention as camp pastor Ronnie LaLande does a monologue on Namaan. He is resplendent in a robe, turban, and sandals. Bro. Ronnie has been a G.A. camp fixture for seven summers. When he becomes a Biblical character, it is as if he really is that person.

I’m now getting situated after fixing the last minor emergency. It seems a counselor had a homesick camper and Monday night is the first official night of homesick season. I’m hoping now I’ll get to enjoy the service and see what God is going to do in the lives of these girls.

Just as Namaan gets to the part where he is complaining about how muddy the Jordan River is compared to his crystal clear streams back in Syria, I’m tapped on the shoulder. Turning, I see James Blankenship, our summer staff leader, motioning me outside. I try to hide my disgust as I thread my way out. I think to myself, “I bet it is something he could take care of without me.”

When we get outside the Tabernacle several people are gathered and James points to the flower area by the door. There is a snake. James relates, “I was sitting here on a tree bench when I saw it.”

And it’s not just any snake- but a coral snake. The red, yellow, and black stripes make it easily recognizable. I repeat the saying from my childhood,

“Red touch yellow . . . kill a fellow
Red touch black . . . friend of Jack.”

This snake has the red and yellow stripes touching and the distinctive black nose of the coral snake. He is about two foot long- a good size for a coral snake. As I look around for a stick to kill him, I remember that the coral snake has the strongest venom of any American snake.

By now the campers and counselors on the back row have turned to look out the windows wondering what is going on. They can’t see the snake, which is below their sight line, but they know something interesting is there in the flowers.

With my new found weapon I hit the snake. The only problem is my stick is rotten. It breaks apart as I strike and the coral snake is now stunned and infuriated. He instinctively heads for cover as I frantically hunt another weapon. And here is why I’m frantic: Mr. Coral snake is burrowing furiously under the edge of the Tabernacle wall. Before I can do anything only his tail is sticking out as he disappears under the wall.

Now I’m aware that Namaan is probably on his fifth dip in the Jordan River inside the Tabernacle. I don’t remember any snakes in that river from the book of II Kings, but if I don’t do something quick there’s going to be one in this story, accompanied by more than four hundred screaming girls.

The counselors on the back row are very interested in our rodeo. Recognition of what is out there registers on their face. When I charge in the back doors to make sure the snake hasn’t come under the wall, all of them have their feet tucked under their chins up on the pew. I’ll never forget the look on Davy Funderburk’s face. He is sitting right under the spot where the snake is trying to get in.

To my relief there is no snake inside. The floor plate should keep him out of the Tabernacle. I hurry back outside. Someone brings me a stout stick. But the coral snake is nowhere to be found. We surmise that he has burrowed up under the Tabernacle wall.

Using my stick, I begin probing in the dirt under the wall. I’m joined now by several other brave souls, including James who is standing cautiously back eight feet away. Finally closer to the back door, I see red, yellow, and black in the dirt. He is burrowing in the dirt trying to escape. Using my stick as a rake, I pull him out in the flowerbed. Now he is in the open and determined to elude me. To our horror he heads straight for the Tabernacle door. I’m sure he thinks if he can get under the door he’ll escape the tormenting devil who is hitting him.

I’m willing to do anything to keep him outside so I instinctively use my stick to rake him away from the door. He flies about six feet across the sand and wraps around James’ foot.

... Now before I tell you how this story ends, I must tell you about James. I love James like a son. He is our summer staff director. And he is a city boy. And the last thing he wants is a coral snake wrapped around his leg.

So James begins a dance that is hard to describe. All I can say is not even a boa constrictor could have stayed attached to James’ leg with the moves he was making. One of the guys later said, “He sure got religion when that snake wrapped around his foot.”

The snake hits the ground and I hit him good. It was all over so quickly. The dead coral snake lay there. James stood back still shaking and all of us had a fine laugh at this comedy in errors.

By now Namaan (a.k.a. Bro. Ronnie) has just been cured of his leprosy and was praising God. I could’ve gone in the service but I just didn’t think I could sit still after this.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Billy Cannon, 1959 Heisman Trophy winner, is still revered as one of Louisiana's greatest sports heroes.

Notice the uncanny resemblance to recent Heisman winner Tim Tebow. They both have that "run through a brick wall" look that great athletes have.

Cannon's life has had plenty of ups and downs.

Read this fine article on his recent life and the redemptive theme.

A quote from the article, "The people of Louisiana are quick to love," Cannon told the AP guy. "They are also quick to forgive." When the reporter asked the question, Cannon said, "I did the crime and I did the time. I haven't had a speeding ticket since."

And that was it.

Gwen's Shopping Spree

Lately, I've thought about my friend Gwen. During my years as assistant principal, Gwen Cooley worked very closely with our school. She always cared about our students and was continually doing things to help out.

Her untimely death from cancer over fifteen years ago left a void in her family and our community.

Her husband Russell's death last month reminded me of Gwen's rich life.

I dug out the photo shown below. Under the photo, I'll tell the story.

Here's the story:

The East Beauregard Beta Club sold tickets on a "buggy run." The winning ticket got a two-minute shopping spree at the local Brookshire Bros. supermarket.

Gwen Cooley, being the school supporter she was, bought a ticket and was selected as the winner.

Teacher Sally Heise (shown in the photo with Gwen) was the Beta Sponsor. She told me, "Mrs. Cooley won, and with her age and size I don't think she'll be able to shop too fast. That means we'll make more profit."

I laughed. "Gwen Cooley has worked hard for all of her life and has raised both her children and grandchildren. She knows how to shop. Don't underestimate her."

As the photo so vividly shows, Gwen went straight to the commercial products aisle and started hefting those big cans and containers.

She loaded her cart quickly and expertly. When it was all over, the Beta Club actually lost money on the buggy run fundraising project.

And Gwen left Brookshire's with a trunkload of groceries to feed her large family.

I always smile when I see this photo or share this story.
My friend Gwen. A Sugartown woman with a big heart and a life full of sweet deeds.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tertius' Headache

What do you do when the movie ends? Are you one of the first ones out or do you sit and watch the credits roll until the lights come up and the workers pick up the popcorn containers?

I never leave until everything passes on the screen.

It's the way I was brought up at the knee of my Uncle Bill. (He holds the record of watching 233 movies in one year (1959 while working at the Realart Theater in DeRidder.)

Watching a movie beside Uncle Bill was an event. It was serious and no talking or distractions were allowed. Also, we'd sit until the credits rolled by soaking in every last moment of the magic of being in a theater.

I think of that when I get to Romans 16. Paul's classic letter on all things concerning salvation and justification.

Romans 16 are the credits. In this final portion of his letter, Paul sends greetings between the hearers in Rome and his fellow senders in Corinth.

It's easy to skip over this portion of his letter. As I heard one speaker comment, "Romans 16 is like the credits at the end of 'Gone with the Wind'."

However, all scripture is there for a reason, including Romans 16.

My favorite verse in that chapter is verse 22: "I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord." (16:22 NIV)

Paul allows this scribe to add a personal note to the letter. It's a mark of class and grace.

Thinking about this, I penned a short fictional story told by Teritus. I call it "Tertius' Headache."


Tertius’ Headache

“Honey, I’m home.”

“Well, Tertius how was your day?”


“A bad day, huh?”

“No, it was… it was wonderful, but I’m whupped.”

“How so?” His wife asked as she stirred a steaming pot.

“I’m taking dictation from the Apostle Paul, you know the evangelist. He’s staying over at Gaius’ house.He’s writing a letter to some folks in Rome. We spent all day on it. And I’ve got a splitting headache.”

“Honey, what’s the letter about?

“Everything. It’s long. My hand is numb. Paul got so excited, talking fast and pacing the room, gesturing. I’d have to slow him down, back up some, and get him to repeat it.

“It’s really Paul’s summation of what he calls the 'gospel.'

The simple, pure gospel—of who Jesus is and what He’s done for us.

"Here, let me read from my notes. Let me find it here. How about this from page 4, 'All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.' "

Tertius thumbed through the papers, dropping several. 'But my favorite here is from, let's see page 9, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus."

"That's really nice, Tertius. I like it."

He smiled wearily, “Well, if supper’s ready, let’s eat. I’ll probably be pulling an all-nighter re-writing this. I’ve got to be there early in the morning to start again."


Release information on our new novel, A Good Place, at

See the front and back cover as well as read chapter 1.*

*Disclaimer: If you read chapter 1, you'll want the book! You have been warned.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Whatever it Takes
La Esperanza, Honduras

From the 2002 Curt Iles book, The Old House. Earlier title: "A Broken Pencil"

I stood in muddy water in the middle of what was now a raging stream. Only an hour ago this spot was the middle of a dirt road on the side of a hill in northwestern Honduras. We’d arrived here at the home of a family to set up our video equipment and screen to show The Jesus Film.

Upon arrival a few hours before dark our team was met by a group of smiling dark Honduran children. Setting up our screen and tarps, we kept an eye on the sky above the surrounding mountains. It was May and that meant the beginning of the rainy season in Central America.

Tonight’s language, of course, Spanish. Randy Pierce sets up the large screen and adjusts the video projector, DVD player, and generator.

As dusk approaches, a small crowd of forty or so has gathered. Most perch on benches in the roadway or sit with us along the ditch bank. Off in the surrounding darkness I can make out the forms of people, mostly men, who will not come closer, but sit at a distance under the trees.

As the film begins, every eye is on the screen. We are miles from any electricity and I wonder if any of these folks have ever seen a movie. The quietly humming generator runs the DVD player as the light of the movie reflects off the rapt faces of the Hondurans.

The movie continues. Just about the time that Jesus stills the storm on the Sea of Galilee, the first raindrops fall. Then a clap of thunder introduces the real rain and the bottom drops out. Everyone runs for cover under the two tarps. Within minutes the road is running inches deep in water. The wind blows rain in on the huddled women, boys, and children.

Finally, after about twenty minutes of raining hard, it slackens. By now Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem. It’s still raining hard but not nearly as hard as it was earlier. I slip to a drier area under the tarp and sit on a log.

On my left side I feel the warmth of another human body. A Honduran woman is sitting beside me. It’s very dark but I can make out her smile and tell her hello, as I return my attention to the film. On the crowded log we are tightly packed and I feel the woman’s body against my shoulder. From her side smacking sounds distract me, and with my eyes now adjusted to the darkness, I see that this Honduran mother is nursing her infant child, oblivious to this embarrassed Yankee seated next to her. My only thought is, “I’m sure a long way from home here!”

Finally, through an hour of steady rain, the film ends. The Jesus Film features a wonderful invitation at the end giving each viewer the opportunity to invite Jesus into their life. Alexis stands in the rain and issues a call for all who’ve made this decision to come forward. From back in the crowd a young boy steps forward. Soon there is a small group of teenage boys who came forward one by one, standing in the pouring rain.

As long as I live I will have the picture in my mind of these seven boys gathered around Alexis as he prays with them. They had made a decision to come to Jesus and were going to do whatever it took to receive him, regardless of the rain or what anyone else thought.

Then I recalled the story of the four men in the second chapter of Mark’s gospel who brought their lame friend to see Jesus. Finding Jesus in a crowded room teaching, they went to the roof and after cutting a hole, lowered their friend to the wonderful Savior. They had a “whatever it takes” attitude to bring their friend to Jesus. Isn’t that exactly what we should have concerning the Savior? There is no distance too great, no weather too bad, no obstacle too large, and no wall too high. Whatever it takes, we need to bring others to Jesus.

This night reminds me of how we in America really don’t know what commitment and sacrifice are about. Here are people who’ve walked miles to see this film. Some of them are willing to stand in the pouring rain to show their desire to follow the amazing Son of God, Jesus. After the film, many will make long walks in the dark and up slippery muddy mountain paths as they trudge homeward. It humbles me as to how I take so many things for granted and often do not really show gratitude for my blessings.

Xtreme Missionary Adventures, led by friend Randy Pierce is a cutting-edge missions ministry that goes to the hard places to share the gospel.

I highly recommend this team of committed outdoorsmen. Learn more at


Give him the ball and get out of the way.

Once, in the heat of the last minutes of a close NBA playoff game, Boston Celtics coach K.C. Jones looked into the faces of his team during a timeout.

According to those in the huddle, he looked at no. 33, Larry Bird, nodded and said, "Give him the ball and get out of the way." They did, he did, and the Celtics won.

What a fine story. What a good lesson for those of us who follow Jesus. As we face the challenges of life, the best thing we can do is "give him the ball and get out of the way." Surrender our life to him and "let go and let God."

Monday, November 02, 2009

I'm "manic writing" today, catching up on stories I've had stored in my mind and on my laptop. Being delayed in an airport isn't all bad if you've got something to write or read.

I hope you enjoy this story. I really appreciate all of you who faithfully visit my blog and social networks.

Here's a new story:

Shoplifting at the Crowley Wal Mart
: A Story on the "I" word*

The I word: Integrity.

It's bad enough to shoplift anywhere, but the Crowley (Louisiana) Wal Mart is a bad place to offend.

It's a famous store in Wal Mart lore. (The current location is a Supercenter, but the old store was an early small store location.

There are various versions of the following story. (You can learn more with a Google search.)

In the early days of the Crowley Wal Mart, shoplifting (or "shrinkage" as they call it) was a real problem. So management decided to post a worker at the door to discourage shoplifters and check bags.

It just so happens the workers were friendly and also greeted customers by name, since they knew nearly everyone in the small rice-farming town of Crowley.

The rest is history. It was the start of the Wal Mart greeter, a staple of their stores everywhere.
(One story tells of Sam Walton showing up "unannounced at the Crowley store" and being happily greeted. He went back to headquarters and made it a company-wide policy.) Regardless of how it actually happened, it soon became an American fixture and part of our language, "Well, you could be a greeter at Wal Mart.")

Back to shoplifting: Two weekends ago I passed through Crowley late at night returning from the La. Book Festival in Baton Rouge. I made a quick Wal Mart stop. Among the items placed in my cart was a small watch battery. To keep from losing it, I slipped it inside a binder I was buying.

And I walked out of the store (past two greeters) with my shoplifted watch battery among my paid items. At my vehicle, I began looking for the item and couldn't find it. Finally, I remembered where I'd placed it for "safekeeping."

Of course, I also realized I'd not paid for it.

It was late on Saturday night.
I was ready to get home to Dry Creek.
I had a sermon to preach the next morning.

I really didn't want to go back in the store.
One Wal Mart visit per day (or even week) is way more than enough for me.

I looked at the battery, searched my original receipt hoping it had been scanned, and wondered how long the line inside would be.

I told myself, I could just go on. Maybe take care of it next time I'm in a store.

No one would know.

Yes, no one would know.
Except me.
And expect God.
And that second Someone is pretty important.

Sheepishly I re-entered the store.
The clerk was surprised to see me again. She was also surprised at my story. As you can see from the above receipt, it was just $4.00.

But it was an integrity test.

A test to find out what I really believed. My favorite definition of integrity comes from John Maxwell, "Integrity is who you are when no one's looking, and what you'll stand up for even if you're standing alone."

Driving home, I recalled a TV report from another Wal Mart: in New Orleans in the days after Katrina's devastation. A middle-aged man was coming out of a vandalized Wal Mart with an armload of bottled water and food. He approached the TV camera and said, "I want you to know that I'm making a list of everything I have here and will be back the day this store re-opens to pay for every item. I'm only taking what we need to survive."

The man's intense eyes and words told me he was a man of his word. He had integrity. The storm had taken a lot of things from him but hadn't robbed him of his integrity.

I was reminded of F.B. Meyer's words on Joseph (of the Old Testament when Potiphar's wife had pulled his coat off in her aggressive movements to pull him down)

"Although Joseph was stripped of his garment, he wasn't stripped of his integrity."

Integrity. It's a trait that no one can take from a man or woman. It can only be surrendered by an individual.

May God help each of us make up our mind to be possessors of integrity in both small and large ways.


Add Image
Starting a new journal

It's not just any journal. It's journal number 49 I'm starting today.

To left Journal 1. Started Dec. 1973 during my senior year of high school.

I have all of these journals, written in over thirty six years on a shelf in my office. They're my most valuable material possession, telling the story of my life. Honestly, telling about the highs and lows.

I write when I'm either very sad or extremely happy (or tickled). There's plenty of both in these journals. That first journal lasted from 1973 through 1977. Now, I usually fill one up in three months.

The note below is Uncle Bill's original note from that first journal. It was good advice then and I'm still following it. Click on note to see clearer/larger version.


L.A. Freeway

Written last week (Oct. 24)

I’ve been wanting to write this story for a while. Today’s the perfect day. I’m sitting in the Houston airport after driving US 190/La. 12 and I-10 Freeway.

My grandfather was a slow driver. In fact, he Sid Plott did everything slowly. He’d still be eating thirty minutes after all of the other dishes had been washed. His comment was, “I’m not a bird, I don’t have a gizzard. That’s why I eat slow.”

Once on the L.A. Freeway (He was in Los Angeles for the World Horseshoe Championship) he was ticketed by a patrolman for “going too slow.”

Always when I hear the refrain from the Jerry Jeff Walker song, “L.A. Freeway” I think of Grandpa Sid:

“If I can just get off that L.A. Freeway
Without getting killed or caught.”

I also thought of my grandpa last week. An older friend, Gerald Shirley, told of getting “pulled over” on US 190 near Reeves for “going too slow.” The officer said he couldn’t ticket him but warned him "to drive faster so as not to be a danger." (Mr. Shirley said he was “going about 35.”)

To me it was ironic he was stopped on U.S. Highway 190 near Reeves. That section of road is famous for giving speeding tickets. (One summer I polled the summer staffers at Dry Creek on who’d received a ticket near Reeves and nearly everyone raised their hand.)

The village of Reeves has made a good living off giving tickets, especially to Texas drivers coming to the Kinder Casino. In fact, 190 is often called “Casino Road” and the “Texas Highway.” Because Texas is not only bigger (but faster) their drivers are prime candidates for exceeding the 55 MPH speed limit (and 45 through Reeves.)

In the next portion of this blog entry, I’ve printed a story from my third book, Wind in the Pines. It’s a special tale about values as told from this very section of US 190 that I’ve just written about.

Enjoy… and remember that the things that matter aren’t things.

You see, when it’s all said and done, it’s all about people.

Heavenly Treasures on Casino Road

This is a favorite story from my third book, Wind in the Pines. It was written circa 2003 during my memorable years as manager at Dry Creek Camp.

The silver BMW zooms by me as we head west on US 190 outside Reeves, Louisiana. It’s a hot Saturday afternoon in June, and as always, our Louisiana summer humidity is tough to bear, and impossible to enjoy. I’m driving the camp van, loaded with a dozen sweaty and laughing boys, and the AC doesn’t work very well. We’ve got the windows cranked down, but it’s still just plain sweltering inside the vehicle.
But the heat is probably not bothering the two occupants in the sleek BMW. Its darkly tinted windows are tightly shut. As the car speeds around our slow van, I’m not at all surprised to see the Texas license plates above the rear bumper.
US 190 is what we call the “Texas Casino Road.” It is used by the multitudes of Texans who come to our fair state to gamble at the Grand Coushatta Indian Casino, north of Kinder.

This shiny new luxury car is in stark contrast to what I’m driving—a 1978 Ford van. In addition to being hot, this van still bears evidence from yesterday’s canoe trip—the lingering aroma of wet bathing suits and soured towels, and some of the remaining creek sand on the floor is being whipped up by the wind and stinging our eyes.

I’m sure our Texas friends, who’ve just passed us (if they even noticed us at all) thought we were a pretty motley crew. This van has seen many miles, first carrying foreign seaman from the Port of Lake Charles, and now hauling kids to and from camp.

As this luxury car quickly puts great distance between us, I think, “Well, I wonder how they did at the casino? Are they going home happy—with more than they brought—or like most visitors, are they leaving with pockets empty and broken dreams from a weekend which they had hoped would be profitable?”

Then I recall a story. (It seems everything makes me think of another story!) It’s one concerning a Texan who bragged after returning to Houston after a weekend at the casino. “Boys,” he said between puffs on a big cigar, “I went over there in a thirty-thousand dollar car and came back in a three-hundred thousand dollar bus!”

. . .The only part he omitted was that this bus was a Greyhound Bus. This funny story is a sad reminder of the troubling practice as to how casinos will quickly loan you more gambling money in exchange for your vehicle title.

As my mind contemplates this and the silver BMW puts distance between us, one of the boys in the van hollers and my eyes are diverted back to the rear view mirror. It is important to keep a check on these campers I’m taking home to Lake Charles. These are Opportunity Camp boys. They’ve come to camp because their parole officer sent them. Some came to camp as an alternative to juvenile jail time, while others have come because their parents were more than happy to have them gone for three days. Regardless of their reason for attending, they’ve all had a great time and been model campers during the three days of camp.

As I glance again at them in the rear view mirror, I don’t see criminals, or a certain race, or any hate- I simply see young boys who’ve had very little guidance, spiritual or otherwise, in their lives. Boys who need male guidance and involvement. Boys who, most of all, need the life-changing love of Jesus in their lives. I recall how many of them, including most of these six, made first time decisions to follow Jesus as Savior, Lord, and Guide of their lives while at camp.

Returning my attention to the road, I recall a thrilling experience from the last night of camp. After our evening service a camper came up to me. He asked, “Are you a counselor here?” There was an urgency to his question that riveted my attention on his dark brooding eyes.

“No, I’m not really one, but how can I help you?”

“Man, I want Jesus... and I want Him now!” he blurted out. As we went outside and sat at a picnic table, it was my privilege to be there when he asked this Jesus to become real, forgive him, and come into his life. I’ll always remember his simple, crude, heartfelt prayer:
“Jesus, you know I done a lotta wrong in my life, and there’s a whole lot of forgiving I need, but I know you can, and will, save and forgive me.”

I’ve been with many young people when they’ve reached this decision to get to know God’s Son, but I’ve never heard anyone pray more earnestly and passionately, than this young man.

As the van bounces along in the rutted lanes of US 190, I recall other neat stories from these three wonderful days of camp. What a joy it is to be part of God’s life-changing work at Dry Creek Camp!

Looking ahead down the highway, I can barely see our Texas friends in their BMW. They are now only a distant speck. Then the thought hits me and I really believe it is from God: Even if these Texas travelers hit the jackpot and are returning home filthy rich, they aren’t nearly as rich as I am driving this filthy van.

Here’s why: I’m hauling a van full of new Christian young men. Who knows, there might be a preacher sitting behind me, or one of those three sitting in the back seat may mature into the kind of Godly man who will break the cycle of heartbreak and sin that have marked his family for generations.
A verse comes to my mind from Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6: 19-21)

You see, the only things going to Heaven are people’s souls! Nothing else will make it, not even one single dollar of all the casino jackpots ever won. I think of the words of Mr. Leonard Spears, “Son, I’ve lived here on the road to the cemetery all of my life, but I’ve yet to see a hearse drive by with a luggage rack.”

Therefore, when we view life with an eternal perspective, we realize our earthly possessions are temporary and will be someday left behind. Therefore, we need to be busy storing up heavenly treasure while we are here on earth- the everlasting treasure of investing in the lives of our greatest resource- young people.

Yes, our business is to be busy about His business. As Jesus said, “I’ve come to seek and save that which was lost.”

Yes, I wouldn’t trade these “heavenly treasures” laughing in the back of the van for anything material this world has to offer. Because in the long run, and the eternal view is always the long run, the things that matter aren’t “things,” but people.

As the popular MasterCard Ads say, “Certain things are priceless.” And being part of God’s life changing work at summer camp is priceless...and eternal... and worth doing whatever it takes to be part of.

What good will is it for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
- Jesus as quoted in Matthew 16:26


Held Hostage in Atlanta Airport

Monday, Nov. 2. Missed my connection to Houston. Killing time in Atlanta Airport.
Below is a story I wrote last week when I was stranded here coming through.

The River of Life flows through Hartsfield Airport

They say Atlanta is the world busiest airport* (the Southern saying: “Whether you’re going to heaven or hell, you’ll have to go through Atlanta.”) Airport is packed as usual. Everyone hurrying from gate to gate. I have three hours to wait and walk, so I “hike” along the concourse.

I see it all. A young marine in dress blues. I wonder where he’s going. The sad girl beside him with her head on his shoulder convinces me he’s on his way away.

A man with a large mountain backpack, shorts, and hiking boots strolls amongst the well-dressed businessmen. I stop him. His face is red and windburned, and his kneecaps are covered in large scabs. He is a wild man. When he speaks, I know he’s from Australia.

He’s returning from the South American Andes and tells of climbing to 18,000 feet. His knees as well as leg muscles attest to his story of biking 2000 kilometers in the two months he’s been down south.

He moves on and I watch a preteen boy led along by a stewardess. He’s evidently traveling alone, and she’s escorting him to his next flight. I know there are parents (and probably grandparents) sitting worriedly someone as their son moves from point A to B.

The river of life pours and overflows all around my spot at Gate C-7. Everyone going somewhere. Every one of them with a story to tell.

* Chicago O’Hare and Atlanta annually vie for this title. My understanding is that London Heathrow is slightly behind them.