Month: March 2018



More than 150 Abilene kids are waiting for a mentor. 100 of those kids are boys in need of a Big Brother.

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Children served, called Littles, are matched with a volunteer Big Brother or Big Sister based on common interests, personality, and experiences. Matches spend time together 2-4 times a month.

In the Lunch Buddies program, matches eat lunch, read, or play games together at the Little’s school. Matches in the community-based program may enjoy their time tossing a
ball around, going to a movie, eating out, or doing some other fun activity they choose together.

“Our goal is to successfully serve 635 children this year. To meet that goal and serve the children of Abilene well, we need more volunteers to join us as mentors, especially men. In honor of our 40th year in Abilene, we are excited to launch our Real Men Mentor: 40 Men in 40 Days campaign on March 22nd,” says Megan Tolle, director of public relations and recruiting at BBBS of Abilene.

“Young men in our community need more men to look up to…that’s the biggest thing. Mothers are generally always there. All of us firefighters can attest to that,” states Deputy Chief Mike Burden, volunteer Big Brother and BBBS board member.
BBBS’ Real Men Mentor: 40 Men in 40 Days campaign, sponsored by Weathersby Roofing, will run March 22 through April 30. Men who are interested in learning more about volunteering as a Big Brother are encouraged to inquire online at or call Megan at 325-674-3139.

Men who complete an application and complete a scheduled interview will be counted and receive a “Real Men Mentor” shirt or ball cap. For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters programming and opportunities to volunteer, visit or call Megan Tolle at 325-674-3139.



Growing up in a small town, the big summer event was Little League baseball. As they reached the age of around 12, the boys in town would anticipate the summer when they would first be picked to play. Baseball was big in the ’50’s. In Plano, the boys would be anxiously waiting by the phone the Saturday the teams were picked to see to which team they would be assigned. We had four teams in our league, the Colts, Sports, Athletics and Lions (If my memory is correct on the last one).

Danny Minton

Danny Minton

Every boy wanted to play for the Colts. They were the best team for several years. They were winners. They had the athletes from the prior year who would carry them to the championship again, so that’s where the newly selected recruits wanted to be as well. Like the others, I waited in anticipation for the call with the hope of being a blue and white Colt that first summer.

The call came from one of my friends. “Danny,” he said in a tone that I could tell even hurt him, “you were selected to the Sports.” When I hung up, I was devastated. Not only did I not make the Colts, but I was also on the worst team in the league. It was the team that had not won a single game the year before and was the worst in the last several years. The Sports, could it get any worse? The answer was a definite, “Yes.”

I bought my red and white baseball cap and headed out to the first team meeting. Even in disappointment, I looked forward to my first baseball uniform. The Sports’ colors were red and white. When it came time to distribute the uniforms the coach did not have enough of the red ones, so two of us got the colors of the old team, gray and green. I was one of the two who got the “different” one. Not a very good start for something you were excited about in the beginning. The other player with a green uniform quit so I alone was left as odd colored standout. It could not get any worse, right? Wrong!

My first time at bat was in a practice game with you guessed it, the Colts. Since I was small, everyone moved up on me. To the other team’s surprise, I was a better player than I looked. I connected with the first pitch and got a hit to right field. Then on first base, it happened. The pitcher threw the ball to pick me off, and I got back to the base but did not notice the old “hidden ball” trick. The first baseman acted like he threw it back, but instead held the ball. I stepped off the base and was promptly tagged out. I was again devastated. I sat by the fence and cried.

The bright spot was that I received my red and white uniform after a couple of weeks, we tied for second place that year and the following year tied for the division lead. Later, I was selected as one of the all-stars as the second baseman. Even though the beginning was rough, I never gave up and enjoyed several summers of small-town baseball.

The Bible teaches that “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Sometimes we are going to face tough challenges. The easy thing is to give up. We can just quit and move on. But giving up accomplishes nothing compared to the rewards that can come our way from sticking through the tough times. It is through facing trials and hardships and defeating the tests that come our way that we become stronger in our spiritual lives. The apostle Peter is a great example of this. He was called down for rebuking Jesus, his faith wavered as he walked on water and he denied Jesus at his trial. Yet he became the greatest of all the apostles.

So next time life gives you a green uniform and puts you in a last team situation think about the future. Turn that unfortunate circumstance into a winning season of your life.


Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

Psalm 31:24

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ



Reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

Thirteen cast members, plus crew, will present the annual Living Last Supper at St. James United Methodist Church, 3100 Barrow St., March 24, 25, and 29.

The first drama was presented in 1998 and has been held every year since then. Performances, which are free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m.  An offering will be taken.

The set is a large table at the front of the sanctuary, where Jesus and his 12 apostles shared the last supper. The set is based on the painting, The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci.





(Editor’s Note: Dr. Jennifer Eames is the founding director of the physician assistant program at Hardin-Simmons University. She and a group of students spent spring break on a mission trip to Peru. Eames sent the following report from the trip. Photos were posted on Facebook by team members.)
A team of students from the Hardin-Simmons University physician assistant program spent four and a half days at at clinic in Peru over spring break, seeing more than 700 people.

Jennifer Eames

The team, consisting of 15 students, five health care providers, and a Hardin-Simmons staff member,  partnered with Buckner International, well-known world wide for its work with families, children, and orphans. Buckner International is planning to build a Family Hope Center in the community where the Hardin-Simmons team served, outside Cusco, Peru.

This week we were able to treat patients, pray with families, provide glasses to over 300 people, perform procedures, distribute donated toothbrushes, and provide health education programs.
Patients were all weighed, had blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and respiratory rate taken. They then were given the opportunity to be evaluated for glasses and wait to be seen by either a physician assistant or physician in the education room.
The education area reviewed topics like skin care, hand washing, oral health, reproductive health, and the dangers of alcohol and tobacco use. There were great questions by the patients, who seemed very engaged in the education talks. Each adult also had a glucose level taken before seeing a provider.
HSU’s PA program carried over 20 large suitcases of donated medicines, hygiene items, glasses, and equipment from local and regional church groups, individuals, Global Samaritan Resources, Hendrick Medical Center, The Lions Club, and Dr. Rocky McAdam’s office. We were able to leave the few unused items with local providers for later use. The most requested treatments included multivitamins and anti-parasite medicines, as clean water is not available in the community where we worked.
The team has been covered in prayer by many around the world for months and have truly been fortunate to have both beautiful weather and great health. The group had one last activity, a trip to Machu Picchu before returning on March 18. We are so honored to have had this opportunity to share the love of Christ with people in South America. We have all been blessed by spending time with the vibrant people of Peru and are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the healing profession.



Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001, lamented that if she needed assistance with a military or economic issue, she had hordes of people at her fingertips, but not so with matters of religion.


Shaun Casey

Albright discussed that problem in her book, “The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs,”  published in 2007 by Harper Perennial. 

“She literally had no one to call,” said Shaun Casey, who headed an office under President Obama designed to alleviate the problem.

Casey, an Abilene Christian University graduate, was guest speaker March 5 at his alma mater. He currently is director of the Berkley Center and a professor of the practice in Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. He spoke at ACU on “What Does Abilene Have to Do With Jerusalem? Bringing Religion to American Diplomacy.”

Casey assured the students in the audience that they are receiving an education that will prepare them to do whatever they want. After graduating from ACU, Casey earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and a master of divinity degree and a doctor of theology degree from Harvard Divinity School. But the foundation for those degrees and his later work came at ACU.

“A lot of the skill sets I picked up here,” he said, “helped prepare me for my work in the state department.”

In 2013, Casey was teaching at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., when he got a call from Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry, who wanted Casey to head up the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs. Casey accepted, although he wondered how he and Kerry would mesh. Kerry is a “blue blood,” a New Englander, and a Catholic, Casey noted, while he grew up in Missouri in the Church of Christ.

But he needn’t have worried. The two worked well together and Casey succeeded in heading the office. Casey talked about why it is important to understand religion as part of diplomacy. One reason is that religion is powerful.

“We ignore it at our peril,” Casey said.

And, willful ignorance of the world’s religions has cost the United States dearly, he said, citing the invasion of Iraq as an example.

Casey hired 30 people to work in the office with more than 20 holding degrees in theology. They also had an understanding of religion in various places in the world, not just religion in textbooks.

The employees were tasked with advising Kerry when religion issues arose and training embassy employees on how to do that. They tried to change the culture of the Department of State by stressing how important it is to build relationships before war breaks out. The office was filled with people of numerous religions, although no one was asked for a religious affiliation in the interview process.

Another step toward changing the culture came with the drawing up of set of guidelines for the office, such as seeking joy in your work, building relationships, and driving out fear. Other government workers were in awe and were attracted to that culture.

“We created, I think, a remarkable inter-religious team,” Casey said.

The team created six regions worldwide, with a different religion represented in each. The team helped stem the tide of a rise in antisemitism, worked on the global refugee crisis and contributed to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Despite the success of the office, the Trump administration has decided that kind of work isn’t helpful Casey said.

In a Q&A after his talk, Casey was asked if his work affirmed his faith as a Christian.

“I do believe my faith grew,” he said.

Casey said he has been asked how people can suppress their deeply held religious beliefs in an inter-religious setting. He tried to be an example, he said.

“I do believe Christians can participate in inter-religious work,” Casey said, “to the benefit of the world.”






Nancy Patrick, second from left, joins her Carr cousins for a meal. Submitted photo


Within the same week, I celebrated my 68th birthday and received the invitation and registration material for my 50th year class reunion for the Abilene High School class of 1968. Of course, I already knew I was getting older, but something about a 50th year reunion impressed me with the reality that most of my life is in the past. That didn’t make me sad, but it did make me reflective.


Nancy Patrick

When I was a young child, my parents left our larger family, all in Arkansas, and moved my younger sister and me to Texas where we grew up and stayed with our own families. As a consequence, I lost the close connection I once had with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Although my family visited those in Arkansas twice a year, those visits were blitzes during which we went from house to house, seeing those relatives for an hour or so, and then moving on to the next house.

In all the decades of my adult life, I have sent annual Christmas letters to family to update them on graduations, jobs, marriages, births, and deaths, but I had no physical connection with my extended family until recently. In February, my mother’s older sister died at the age of 92. Her death leaves only one sibling from that generation, meaning that on my mother’s side, I now have my sister, one aunt, and three cousins.

When I learned of my aunt’s death, I was overwhelmed with a sense of loneliness as I realized that the family I was born into is almost gone. In all these years of separation, my cousins and I had not attended the funerals of each other’s parents, nor had we stayed in touch during our parents’ declining health. I rationalized that it was not necessary to attend my aunt’s funeral in Arkansas—her daughter (my cousin) hadn’t contacted me during my mom’s declining years or attended her funeral.

But, I couldn’t quit thinking about my shrinking family. I remembered the Christmas and summer visits during my childhood and the excitement of spending time with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents; and I realized I had to go to Arkansas for this funeral. I remembered Psalm 16:6: “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (NIV). Although I had never thought of Arkansas as “delightful,” I suddenly realized that for me, it was.

My cousins were truly surprised when I called and said I was coming, but we were all excited to reconnect. As we shared memories, we laughed, cried, sighed, and became young again if only for a few moments. Our shared memories seemed to erase the lost years of relationship, restoring our family with joy. I know my aunt would have loved seeing her daughter and nieces celebrating her life together as we said goodbye to her presence with us. Irish writer George Moore’s words capture the solace I felt back in the home of my birth: “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.”

Nancy Patrick is a retired teacher who lives in Abilene and enjoys writing.



Psalms of lament typically begin with gloom and end with gladness, sorrow ends with shouting, tears turn to triumph. However, Psalm 88 is the only Psalm that ends in gloom, that ends with a word of darkness. Famous theologian Walter Bruggemann says, “Psalm 88 is an embarrassment to conventional faith.”

MPatrick (1)

Mike Patrick

The psalmist’s lament reeks with honest misery, declares no peace, expresses no joy, and has no song to sing. It reminds us that life does not always have a happy ending. Like the author, we reflect on our woes, sometimes even blaming God for what has happened. Like the psalmist, it is common to ask questions when life caves in on us.

Several years ago, my wife’s parents roomed together in the nursing home. A few weeks before his death, my father-in-law writhed in pain with bone cancer. My mother-in-law, an Alzheimer’s patient, asked me, “Why doesn’t God just come and get us?”

As a hospital chaplain, grieving people ask me questions: “Why did God take my husband’s life?” Why did God allow my child to die?” When they ask these kinds of questions, they generally do not ask me for some theological treatise on theodicy. Rather, it tends to provide a way for them to express and process their lament. Jesus also voiced complaint when he took the sins of the world upon the cross; he cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”

When looking for something positive in Psalm 88, the only thought focuses on the fact that the sufferer, who claims that “darkness is my closest friend, prays to God. No matter how dark life becomes, we can still pray.

Because of our discomfort with lament, we tend to move quickly toward a reason for gratitude. One website says that complaining shows evidence of unbelief, gives place to the devil, and is not for Christians. Can we not allow ourselves permission to lament? When we pray for others who suffer, we tend to focus on God’s goodness or God’s plan or God’s grace. Can’t we at least acknowledge the depth of that person’s despair?

Or let me stretch your thinking one step further. When you pray for some joyful person, you tend to pray with him in the representative “we.” We thank you, Lord …we rejoice in your mercy…we acknowledge you as the God of grace. However, when someone laments, we tend to take a neutral stance and pray for that person. We pray that she might have a sense of God’s presence, peace, and comfort. But can’t we pray, instead, a lament for the sufferer? Can’t we be a voice of complaint and petition on his or her behalf? We pray representatively in the midst of joy. Why can’t we do that in the midst of lament?

Do we trust God enough to speak in honest misery whether for ourselves or for others?

Mike Patrick retired as Chaplain and Ministry Education Coordinator after 27 years at Hendrick Medical Center.