Itinerary… May 1 to October 20, 2012

Here we go again!

Six countries in four and one-half months of travel…

Okay, I admit to having a good break but its over as you will see. Starting Tuesday, May 1 this will all come to an abrupt end as I head out to four and a half months on the road.


CANADA… May 1 to June 3 

Jeanne and I will be at Chapel Ridge in the Ottawa area where will assist them in outreach. At the same time, I will preach a various churches and meet with local leaders on a variety of topics.


Carleton Place Community Center and Arena

North Street Band

We’ll get together with old friends, Fred and Joel Williams and members of the North Street Band. ACCI will be hosting a Concert in Carleton Place, Ontario at the Community Center and Arena.  This is not simply a Christian music concert but a window into our outreach methodology for the Three European City Tour which will take North Street Band to LONDON, ENGLAND, PARMA, ITALY and LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA, September 19 through October 7.

Not and entirely”religious” event and not meant to be…

We will be speaking the language of Europe through music. There are three universal languages that all people everywhere understand  – music, the arts (visual to dramatic) and sport. Presently, soccer (football to Europeans) is being used with some success. Since Europeans are generally anti-theistic and suspicious of evangelism methods (evangelical faith is considered a cult akin to the Jehovah’s Witnesses) handing out tracts,  singing Christian songs and doing dramas on the streets is largely rejected out of hand in most countries. All of this is considered just plain weird. While all of thee evangelistic techniques may work in India or Mexico they prove to be counter productive in Italy, France and other nations in the EU. Rather than bringing people to the gospel they are repelled.

It is our idea to create contemporary and relevant venues (fishing pool events) where believers can effectively get out of the Christian ghetto, demonstrate that they are normal people, have convincing talent and thus build bridges for contact and the gospel.

We hope to have three kinds of events in each of the three cities.

FRIDAY   First, we hope to get into a local club or pub. Our reasoning is this, Jesus went to where the people were and did not wait for them to come to him and this was part of the reason he was criticized. While we will not participate in their activities, we will go among them as a witness for “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” We know that a heavily advertised concert of Christian gospel music will compel very few to attend without prior-established relationships. The last place a European expects to find him or herself is in an evangelical church on Saturday night or Sunday morning no matter what is going on there. This is why there are less than 0.05% of Italy and Slovenia Bible believing Christians. Though England has many more churches, few people attend and less each year. We will go first to Eltham ( the rough southeast side of London) where there are only two non-ethnic churches which are clearly preaching the gospel. We know that when we play the music people are familiar with we will gain an audience.

Those of you who are theologians may not like this as you will see it as compromise but for those who are missionary we see our method as simply doing what any missionary would do if they went to China. In China they would have to learn the language or spend the next forty years singing songs to themselves. If a missionary moves to the muslim world they will have to stop eating pork and the women will have to wear a burqa if they expect to win an audience. The gospel is not changed. The only thing that gets changed is the packaging.

SATURDAY     So then, on Saturday night we hope to perform in auditorium with over five hundred dollars worth of pre-concert promotion, much of it distributed by hand on the street in the days before.

SUNDAY    There will be a special worship concert and those attending the previous events invited.

Saturday, May 26 Evangelism Training


Home to Charlotte for a month.

CANADA… July 2 to August 3

 Home to Charlotte for 10 days

Thirty-seventh trip to Europe in 13 years.

SLOVENIA…  August 12 to August 21

   Pre-concert preparation, Evangelism and Church planting 

ITALY…  August 22 to September 1

 Pre-concert preparation, encouraging missionaries and  pastors,  teaching, preaching and evangelism

FRANCE…  September 2 to September 5

Evangelism and encouraging missionaries

UK…  September 6 to September 25

Jeanne will join me for the three week UK portion

Pre-concert preparation, evangelism, preaching, encouraging missionaries and pastors, ministry consultation

ITALY…  September 26 to October 1

Concert, evangelism and preaching

SLOVENIA…  October 2 to 7

Concert, evangelism and preaching


Teaching at SBI, evangelism and apologetics meetings with GaUT Center and Southern Evangelical Seminary


P.S. Obviously, this will cost a lot of money. It if you can help, it would be greatly appreciated and you will get an “assist” when you get to heaven.

You can donate on line at

Part 7 Lawrence to Liberty, Missouri


This is the last of our “flyover country” visit.

We spent the day enjoying the company of Gary and Christy. Now that Sylvia (Jeanne and Gary’s mother) is gone there are fewer “command performance” visits. Unfortunately, it’s  a long and expensive drive from South Carolina to Missouri and vice versa.

Again, we met for coffee and before noon and went out in the country for a drive where we saw a fascinating home-built by a Frenchman back in  the 1800’s. Gary’s friend Ray Wilbur bought it and being the craftsman, carpenter, mason he is, added on to it in the same style. It is really a unique, rustic and beautiful example of what might otherwise be called “folk art.” I hope this photograph will offer enough detail to illustrate what I am trying to express in words.


The afternoon was lazy. I went up to Massachusetts for a coffee.  Gary and Christy tried to figure out who broke into their house and stole his camera. At about three we decided to pull out and head for our hotel in Liberty, Missouri where we were to have a family reunion in the evening. The Benedict family chose The Corner Cafe for supper. If you like authentic family style, southern cooking, enormous desserts, made like you remember, this is a great stop right off of Highway 35 on Church Road. Unfortunately, the restaurant gets overlooked because it sits in behind the national chain restaurants that line-up along the highway.

I thought that perhaps a handful of the twenty or so might show up as some would have to come a long way to join us.  Except for Gene, Jeanne’s brother-in-law the whole gang were there. The last time we saw them was about a year ago and it was great to get together again. After a two and a half hour supper we said our goodbyes and parted company until the next time. The next morning we start back to Charlotte the short way this time.


Part 6 Lawrence, Kansas

We arrived in Lawrence Sunday at around 7:30 and drove over to Steve Pope’s, a second cousin to Jeanne… I don’t think that’s exactly right… but she is related in one manner or another. We had a good visit with him, his two daughters and grandson and then went to our hotel with the idea of seeing Jeanne’s brother and sister-in-law for coffee in the morning.

Gary and Christy's ""artsy" dining room

Gary and Christy have lived in Lawrence for about fifty years. Gary is a painter and photographer while Christy is an actor with The Creede Repertory Theater in Colorado. They spend their summers there and have for about twenty years. Denver Post named Christy “BEST Actress for 2011.”

Gary is an accomplished non-objective painter. You probably won’t get it but here is an example of his work.

Now that you’re completely mystified, take my word for it, it’s a good (NO!- GREAT) painting. From now on don’t get so excited when you see a Hubble photograph. John Gary was seeing this before Hubble. This is an image that never before (except Tarantula Nebula) existed and only came into existence as Gary manipulated the medium. Okay, enough for Art Appreciation 101.

Danforth Chapel

We had our coffee, took a walk along the Kaw River and then went up to the Kansas University campus (my alma mater). We wanted to buy KU Jayhawk gifts for several fans in the family. I also wanted to take some photographs of old campus haunts. Jeanne is in the middle of writing a book which includes a few vignettes from our time there.


This took me to Danforth Chapel where we were married. Then Gary and I went on down the campus toward the library, Strong Hall and Campanile. All of these buildings (except the library which I rarely entered) have significance in her story. Later we drove around to our first ever apartment on Indiana Street.

Our first apartment (right top)

KU students getting ready to reek havoc.

We made our purchases and then went down to Massachusetts Street where just last Friday night cars were stomped as an expression of jubilation (actually everyone was just drunk and disorderly) over  KU’s win against  Ohio State. The streets now were already filling up with beer trucks and  tonight’s hopeful crowd. The police had taken up their positions in anticipation of mass destruction that only university students have the thoughtless capacity to evoke.

Loyalty didn't help us

After enjoying a  buffet of Indian cuisine, a tour of the Lawrence Art Society’s new gallery we went back to Gary and Christy’s house where I had a visit from our best man, Paul Wood. I had not heard of Paul’s whereabouts until recently when Gary stumbled upon him while walking his dog on Connecticut Street. We talked for an hour or so and then settled in for the evening of dinner guests and basketball on TV. At about 6:30 there were about seven ardent fans encircling both the TV and plates of pizza.

The screaming did not seem to help Kansas University as they went on to defeat 59 to 67.

Part 5 Wichita, Kansas

I was born in Wichita, Kansas and after living in nine other towns and cities came back to Wichita and  graduated from Southeast High School in 1963.

Wichita High School Southeast

For the most part, Jeanne grew up there and graduated from the same high school a year behind me and then went on to Wichita State University while I went off to Lawrence and Kansas University.

It turned out that our mothers worked next to one another at Edgemoor Plaza across the street from Southeast and though we attended the same church, Sharon Road Baptist, we never really became acquainted until after we enrolled in university.

My mother was a beautician and worked next door to the Sun Drug where Jeanne’s mother served at the counter. My mom would take lunch at Sun Drug and with so much in common, she and Sylvia became good friends. I would occasionally see Jeanne perched on a stool at the counter and talking to her mother but never  thought to introduce myself. She had her friends and I had mine. There wasn’t a lot of cross over.

Lots of changes but Jeanne's home on Fabrique Street and where we began dating

Our purpose in going west to Wichita was not to reminisce about the good ole’ days. Nevertheless, while we were there on Palm Sunday morning we drove around to see what kind of changes might have taken place since my last visit, some  forty-eight years ago. We were able to locate Jeanne’s various homes and take photos.

Truth is, the city is nothing like I remember it. Coming in on Kellogg, the main thoroughfare is lined with every automobile dealership and business one can imagine. It appears that the entire city has become one massive  suburb. I once lived in a trailer park alongside of Kellogg. On this visit I had no sense of anything familiar. I might as well have been in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

When she was but a wee lass

Nevertheless, with the help of my handy GPS we found various addresses and made photos before these disappear like so many others have. No one will likely care about this but if blogs have any value they can document one’s existence and leave a trail for anyone else that might care in the future. Admittedly, doing all of this is a bit of a nuisance and I doubt if anyone but family members will bother to chronicle our journey so this may provide all they need to hear about our trip and I won’t have to repeat the same story a half-dozen times.

The last few moments

The real purpose in all of this was to see where Sylvia was interned. We drove out to the Hilltop area but once in the cemetery we pretty much knew that we

With Trudy

would not find it without the help of someone who had been there before. We left and drove across the city to Trudy Collin’s house. Trudy is a former sister-in-law but still close even after all of these years. She knew we’d be coming so was ready for us and after a short visit we drove over to see the grave site. As you can imagine, this was a difficult moment for Jeanne as the visit here provides a final goodbye and closure.

We had lunch at Luca Italian Restaurant (I can recommend everything but the profiterole) in the old warehouse district which turns out to be Wichita’s hot spot. Since so much of our childhood was spent in the downtown sector we wanted to take a drive through but like many cities in the prairies so many of the buildings were empty and boarded up. We could see that various enterprising people made attempts to enliven the downtown with no success. To be honest, I really have a problem with the impact the automobile has had on urban life.  The birth of the automobile has marginalized the heart of the city where there is nothing but decay and dereliction. You won’t find these ghost towns in Europe.  This proves to be worse in the county seats where there is nothing but Wal-Mart. This may be progress but I find it regrettable that once thriving communities have become the home of the “bat and the owl.”

We completed our visit and were back out on the Kansas Turnpike and on our way to Lawrence by five in the afternoon.

Part 4 Oklahoma and Kansas

We spent the night in Harrison, Arkansas (The Ozarks) where as a kid my folks took us on holiday. When you are eleven, Harrison seemed like a long way from Caney, Kansas.

Our idea was to swing around through the northeast corner of Oklahoma, take a room in Bartlesville  twenty miles from where my parents were living at the time of their deaths.  This we did and on Saturday with an early start we wound up in Bartlesville by two in the afternoon. We quickly made our way to Caney, Kansas, one mile on the other side of the state line and immediately went to the graveyard to see (for the first time) my mother’s gravestone.

There it was right next to my half-brother, Dick. I must say the Rolls did a grand job of paying tribute to Mom. We all called her “Nanny Gin” and this is how they inscribed the stone. On one side was her name and on the back side all of the grandkids were listed. She was one of a kind.

Following this we went across the road to the Rolls’ (my half brother’s last name) family business The Gunny Sack and sure enough, out from the back came my brother’s youngest son, Dickie (we all call him Doogie but I don’t think he really likes it). We greeted each other and immediately followed him over to see his mom, Kay, and sister, Robin.

The Roll's Estate, Caney, Kansas.. Except for the pole a pretty nice picture.

Second floor, left facing window... many sleepless nights.

Across the street at 102 North Vine stands one of the ten houses I lived in from the ages of one to seventeen. I lived here from 1956 to 1959. We had moved to Caney from McPherson just as I began the seventh grade (which began the worst three years of my life). Though we didn’t always live here, this house remained the family home for the next thirty years while we moved to Tulsa, Mounds and finally Wichita, Kansas in my sophomore year of high school.

While we waited on Robin we went through my mom’s old albums. She had one for each child and grandchild where she kept everything. These were not real albums

Doogie, Kay Dawn and Jeanne

(Why waste money on stuff like that?), an album might turn out to be an old phone or wall paper sample book. Whatever, there they were, twenty stuffed albums  in a trunk filled with other memorabilia like letters and photographs. With Kay’s permission, we rifled through them and happily  filled a box with those books that pertained to us and our children.

To be honest, there wasn’t much we wanted from their estate and when Mom passed, there wasn’t time to wait while all of her effects were sorted through so we were thrilled to see that Kay and the others had carefully preserved this treasure for the day when we might once again drive around this way.

Kansas and Ohio State

That evening we huddled in our bed and watched Kansas University play a very tight FINAL FOUR basketball game against Ohio State (64 to 62). We made plans to be in Lawrence for the final game on Monday night.

Part 3 Arkansas

March 30, 2012

Lot’s of Changes in Mountain Home on Lake Norfork

The Goucher house in Viola, Arkansas where Jeanne was born still stands

On Friday we drove from Jonesboro to Salem (where we got to visit with Becky, a second cousin of Jeanne’s, and Becky’s son Michael. Becky was very helpful in connecting us with other relatives and also gave us some mementos of Jeanne’s dad she had kept for us.) Then from Salem we drove on to Viola and Mountain Home, the area where Jeanne’s people come from. They don’t exactly come from this area. Their earlier migration started in Hothouse, North Carolina. If you are bold enough to look on a map you will discover that Hothouse is literally in the middle of nowhere. It is located just above Georgia and in the Chatahoochee-Oconee National Forest in the Great Smokey Mountains of Appalachia. So let me be perfectly frank – this puts the Browns between Pack Mountain and Piney Mountain, pretty much in the same holler as the Hatfields and McCoys. Actually, the Hatfields and McCoys were in West Virginia and Kentucky. Nevertheless, you get the idea.

In saying this, I am not putting anyone down. I respect the hardy people of Appalachia. That’s the same place that my line comes from and by all rights my wife and I might turn out to be second cousins if we tried to seriously investigate the matter. Our family trees didn’t have many branches in the 1870’s. (This house to the left is where Jeanne’s father’s family lived in his growing up years. The house, in Viola, still has “Brown” on the outside door.)

By whatever means the Browns, Harbers and Popes all found their way to Viola and Salem, Arkansas and the Hedricks, Scotts and Villers found their way to Oklahoma. They all came from North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee. Almost one hundred years later their progeny, Tony and Jeanne, finally met up in Wichita, Kansas.

A visit to the graveside…

The bodies of great grandparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles lie buried in the Viola cemetery. As a matter of respect, we paid a short visit.

Part 2 Arkansas (for people who know better…Arkansaw

Irene and Jeanne having a good visit.

March 29, 2012

We drove the next day to Jonesboro, Arkansas. Originally it was our plan to drive straight to Viola, Salem and Mountain Home, Arkansas but it turned out that one of the main people Jeanne had hoped to see was her father’s sister Irene, but Irene wasn’t going to be at home. Instead, she, at ninety-five, was in the hospital at Jonesboro getting a new knee. Jonesboro is about  two and half hours from Viola and the other towns so we decided to pop in on Irene, see how she was doing, spend the night, and then on to Salem. It was a good decision as the room was filled with other extended family members that Jeanne wanted to see, so it was a good time to catch up with a lot of pople at once without going from house to house.

Irene was alert and sharp. We had a good time meeting and sharing old times with everyone there in the room (Sue, Irene’s daughter, Jimmy, her son, Aunt Belle, who was married to Jeanne’s uncle Roscoe, and Belle’s daughter Charlotte).


More “Homefolk”

PART 1 Tennessee Into the heartland on our own dime.


As many of you know, just slightly over a year ago Jeanne’s mother Sylvia Brown passed here in Charlotte and after a memorial service her remains were sent back to Wichita, Kansas to be buried next to her deceased husband, Noble. This meant that Jeanne had no real closure as she was unable to attend the internment.

With this in mind, we decided to take a road tour through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, then take the fast way back on the way home. Along the way out we would stop by and see “Our People.” I have family in Caney, Kansas along the Oklahoma border and this is where my mother is buried.  Jeanne has aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews in pretty much everywhere else we would be going except Tennessee. Yet Tennessee held out for us an amazing divine appointment and pleasant surprise.


On the first night we had to get a place to stay near Nashville. The first place we called was filled up but they recommended a sister hotel about ten miles further down the road in Mount Juliet. Well, we called, got a room, got settled and then went out for something to eat. We thought we’d search for local fare,  a non-chain, interstate-exit related restaurant. Just below our hotel was a fairly large mall and after a drive up through Mount Juliet and seeing nothing that appealed – nothing that seemed to have personality of its own – we felt hungry enough to eat at Arby’s if necessary.

We didn’t need much and here’s why…WORTHY OF NOTE

(For lunch we stopped off at Newport, Tennessee and upon the hill we found The Rustic Barn. Apparently, the overweight locals have known about it for a long time. Though I do not suggest stopping by every two days, it was an amazing meal of (ME) two large pieces of fried catfish, cole slaw, bar-b-que beans and baked spring potatoes at $5.00, JEANNE ordered a big piece of grilled salmon, salad, cole slaw at $7.00. It was insane value for the price. The salmon if bought in the store would have been $7.00. )


James McNair and Talitha

So we decide to make a swing through the mall to see if anything other than Ruby Tuesdays and Panera might seem more interesting. All we noticed was a small Greek souvlaki shop and it was at this place where we decided to take our chances. It wasn’t encouraging to see the place empty except for one couple at a table outside on the patio. It was then that I recognized the guy. What were the chances of this. I don’t know anyone in the state of Tennessee except Kerry Underwood. He hadn’t seen me yet so I was excited to surprise a former student, James McNair.

About four years  ago James sat through a few of my classes at Bethany College of Missions in Minneapolis. Since then he has moved on to Virginia Beach, Virginia and when I last spoke to him he was working for Apple. We had talked quite often about ministry in Europe and how he might fit. I admit to doing something I don’t often attempt. I was trying to recruit him. Anyhow, we hadn’t talked in about three months and here we both show up in the same restaurant at the same time in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. When he came through the door and saw me, he almost dropped his plate on the floor. We embraced, I introduced him to Jeanne, who was just as surprised as James was when I kissed him on the cheek. We sat down for about an hour with him and his friend Talitha, re-invigorated our ongoing Skype conversations and upon parting company promised to talk more frequently, which we have done.