Friday, December 11, 2015


Sometimes a book both moves and humbles you.  This was that kind of book.  Considered the definitive biography of Pastor Bob Childress (1890-1956), a man who grew up in abject poverty to become a well known minister in the backwoods regions of Virginia.  He was an unlikely success story with his initial struggles to complete the formal education necessary to be a minister in the Presbyterian church.  Nevertheless he demonstrated both great potential and intelligence, as well as a tremendous love for people.  Throughout his career he preached to several churches on a regular rotating basis traveling thousands of miles a year on nearly impassable roads, but also spent a lot of energy and time assisting people with other basic needs.  The world in which he ministered was rife with alcohol abuse and violence, held back by isolation and ignorance.  Childress worked tirelessly to bring not only the Gospel to the area, but also education, roads, bridges and business.  Even during the depth of the depression the area fared better than many areas, partly due to his energetic efforts to keep the Buffalo Mountain area busy and occupied.  This book by Richard Davids, however, does not paint a picture of a paper saint, but presents us with a man full of energy and passion, but also one who struggled with his own weaknesses.  As a working pastor I was humbled by his story, especially as I witnessed his incredible generosity to those in need. He worked tirelessly making my own efforts feel like a vacation by comparison.  Although his ministry was much different from that of the Lutheran church, I would nevertheless still recommend this book to aspiring pastors to learn the importance and centrality of basic pastoral care. The picture above is one of the five "rock churches" he founded and helped to build. Pictures of the other churches can be found here.This site also provides pictures of the manse where the Childress family lived, as well as other pictures of related historic sites associated with this pastor.

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