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Archive for November, 2013

By Rachel Lewis Allee. Photos by Susan Brown.

calloutSometimes it’s good to let your mind wander—even when you should be paying attention—and Bev Carroll will tell you so. She spent a lot of time not listening while Margaret Feinberg spoke at a women’s ministry conference in Ridgecrest, NC a couple of years ago. To her credit, Bev, at Ridgecrest with other members of FLO (For Women Only), had started listening intently to Feinberg describe her research methods for her latest book. The popular author and speaker had spent time with a shepherdess, a farmer, a beekeeper, and a vintner in search of fresh spiritual insight to those biblical occupations. But as Bev listened, she couldn’t help wondering what other biblical metaphors might reveal about God.

Bev Carroll

Bev Carroll signing her new book.

Her curiosity eventually got the best of her, and before long, Margaret Feinberg’s voice had dimmed to a distant murmur. “I’m sure she had a wonderful speech,” Bev says, “but I drifted way off and I pulled out a piece of paper, and I’m like, OK, what did God say He was? So I started writing stuff down. I made a huge list of things. Then I thought, I want to know.”

Back home in Richmond, Bev began to research. She found some Bible study tools on the internet and was fascinated by what she learned about rocks, fire, bridegrooms, and other metaphors that God uses to describe Himself. “As I researched these, I was blown away by how meticulously Jesus followed each one of them. Even though I didn’t know what they were, He had been faithful to them back then.”

Bev, who teaches the Seekers class at FBC, knew that all this knowledge would make a great series of Sunday school lessons. Over the next seven or eight months – from late 2011 and into 2012 – she wrote a set of teaching notes on her findings and presented them to her class.

That’s where she thought things would end. “When I finished the conclusion, I thought that I was done – into the manila folder, into the drawer.” But Donna Dalton, a member of the Seeker’s class, had other ideas, according to Bev. “She walked up to me after class and gets right up in my face with her finger, and she said, ‘Do not put this in a drawer.’ Then she said, ‘You’re going to write a book, and I’m giving it away Christmas 2013.’”

No way, no how, thought Bev, and she told Donna as much. Her reasons piled up in a long list: She had not gotten a word from God about writing a book. She was good at grammar, not creative writing. She was too busy holding down three jobs, working with FLO, and being a mother to her two sons. In the meantime, Donna kept praying for Bev, who cautiously decided to stick her pinkie toe in the water, so to speak: “I thought, well, I’ll just sit down here and try to write an introduction. If it comes, great; if it doesn’t come, even greater! So I sat down and the intro just flowed.”

She worked on the manuscript from September of 2012 to February of 2013. There were roadblocks along the way: she struggled to write a couple of chapters – particularly the one on “Word” – and when she looked for publishing information, nothing presented itself. She poured out her frustrations in prayer. “‘If You want me to write this book,’” she says of her requests to God, “‘You’re going to have to give me the words for this chapter. I need to know this publishing path.’ I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m in the remedial class. If God’s not really clear, I miss it. I told God, ‘You better make this really clear, or I’m done.’” She went home, put the manuscript in a drawer, and felt peace.

Then some funny things started happening. “If you don’t think God has a sense of humor, then you don’t really know Him,” Bev says. While reading through the materials of a FLO Bible study called Stuck, she saw information for Thomas Nelson Publishers. She visited the website and almost immediately a popup about self-publishing appeared on the screen. She took that as a sign, finished the book, and published it for a fee through Westbow, Thomas Nelson’s beginning writer’s label. He Wants You to Know, by Beverly Lipford Carroll, was officially in print.

Enter the dreaded marketing process. Thomas Nelson called and told Bev they wanted to offer their promotional services and market her book “to the moon and back” – for a large fee. Bev immediately balked. This was not an appropriate route, she felt, but what in the world could she do? She was no marketer – far from it: “I used to pay my little brother to sell my candy bars (for school chorus fundraisers) for me,” she remembers.

The thought of having to promote the book herself made her stomach turn, but she knew paying the publisher wasn’t the answer. Frustrated at what she perceived as a lack of guidance, she told God she was lost, and that she quit. This time, she didn’t see a way out. She called Thomas Nelson and told them that she would not be using their promotional services.

The following Sunday, God’s sense of humor showed up again. “I got up that morning like usual to get ready for church, went over my notes on Moses, and they were on all the excuses Moses gave God at the burning bush [and afterward when confronting Pharaoh]: ‘I can’t do this, get somebody else.’ More than any other moment in Moses’ life, picking the snake up by the tail, that was his moment. Either he was going to trust God to be God and ignore everything he knew to be right, or he was going to trust his best judgment.”

There was another surprise. The next day, feeling good with herself about that Sunday school lesson, Bev went to her job in a preschool office. A rather large black snake was curled up on the mat outside the front door.

Bev’s takeaway lesson from that incident? “He didn’t give me a plan, but He did tell me to stop whining,” she says with a laugh.

He Wants You to KnowAt this point in the marketing journey, she still doesn’t have much of a plan going forward. Her cousin Anne has agreed to help, and Bev has written a study guide with group discussion questions to go along with the book’s “Father” chapter. She also wrote an introductory brochure and sent it to a number of area churches. One responded with interest and many others said they would have been interested, but their fall curriculums were already set. On October 6 in the FBC library, Bev signed somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 copies of He Wants You to Know. She also has a website, beverlycarrollrva.com. The door is wide open and Bev is anticipating her book’s future in spite of the unknowns. “I believe God gave me this book. If nothing more comes out of this than my journey, it’s worth it. If someone else’s journey needs to be impacted, then I need to be faithful.”

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By Billy Davis. Photos by Sharon McCauley.

puppets_RIR-McCauley

Puppet team at RIR

We have all heard the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed – try and try and try again!” This certainly was true for those of us on the Richmond Baptist Association (RBA) team who started a ministry among the thousands of raceway fans coming to Richmond International Raceway (RIR) for the two big spring and fall NASCAR weekends.

We first focused on a Sunday morning worship service. Seeking approval to begin such an outreach effort, we received a “Yes,” but when the NASCAR Daytona executives changed the RIR venue from Sunday to Saturday night, our ministry was no longer needed.

Opportunities did not close to us, however. Motor Racing Outreach of Charlotte, NC, which provided worship, counseling and a children’s ministry for NASCAR drivers and crew member families on Saturdays, invited the RBA team to join them in their work at the Richmond track.

racetrack team SMcCauley

Ministry volunteers at RIR

Early in 2000, Dover and Middle District Associations joined RBA’s team in a broad-based ministry effort at RIR. Then the RIR was purchased by the International Speedway Corporation (ISC). The new ISC president and many of his staff are Christians who knew the value of a raceway ministry. These two changes began a significant time in the development of the ministry now known as Central Virginia Raceway Ministries (CVRM).

CVRM provides chaplains for each race weekend at RIR. These chaplains minister to families in many situations, including when injuries and deaths occur. Our volunteers, both lay persons and clergy, work in four-hour shifts. In addition to counseling, they distribute between two and four thousand pieces of Christian literature, Bibles, driver picture cards, and hospitality packets each weekend. The Virginia Baptist Disaster Relief Unit joins us in handing out cookies, lemonade and cups of water to fans. The Puppet Ministry from FBC has entertained children with their message of God’s love.

Raceway weekends bring to Richmond enough fans to make up a city as large as the fifth or sixth largest in our state. They come with all the needs of any city this size. One fan, a recent Christian, asked if he could hang out with us each day. He said, “I’m a former alcoholic. If I go back to be with the guys and gals I’ve come with, I could fall off the wagon.”

We believe there is a need for the ministry among the 100,000 plus fans coming to RIR for each race weekend. As Dean Kurtz, Executive Officer for Guest Services, ISC Daytona, said, “Everything under the sun is found at a race track and the steeple ought to be also!!”


ICON-billy-davisBilly Davis served as the RBA Consultant for church programs, strategic planning, partnership missions, and deacon, youth and senior adult ministries. Since retiring, he has followed his great passion for Raceway Ministries at RIR where he has served as a chaplain and volunteer coordinator since 2000. Billy and his wife, Linda, have two children, Barry and Susan, and three grandchildren.

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