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Precious Moments Chapel

Johnny Jones, 3 August 1997

Just before we left for Texas, Chip's cousin and her husband came for a visit. Annabelle and Larry collect things--historic things, cute things, ugly things, old things. It's their hobby and their delight. So I saw through their eyes while they were here, and I became more interested in collectibles.

So when we left Springfield last week to head down towards Texas and I started seeing billboards for the Precious Moments Chapel--Chapel? I always thought the Precious Moments characters were cute; I mean, who wouldn't? But I thought they were kind of too-deliberately cute--maybe too cute to be true. I wondered what the chapel was all about.

We got to see because I often need to use rest room facilities. So, since I had a need and the Chapel was close, we decided to drop by and take a look.

We heard the tour guide before we got to the church-looking structure in back of the huge gift shop and cafe. She said something about PM creator Sam Butcher's finally being free to do what he really wanted--and about Precious Moments' being the world's top collectible. I had something to tell Annabelle!

I still expected cutesy, not inspiring; I was wrong. Sam Butcher used to work as staff artist for Child Evangelism Fellowship. Both our kids had come in contact with this wonderful organization, which seeks to bring children worldwide to Christ.

Inside the chapel were depictions of Old Testament scenes to our left, New Testament to our right. I was enjoying trying to figure out which story went with each scene when Chip said, "I get it!" What?

"It's the Bible stories seen through the eyes of a child," Chip said. You know, he might be right.

To our front, filling the entire wall, was Hallelujah Square, Sam Butcher's whimsical look at heaven. But I was really touched by his pamphlet, which presented the plan of salvation. A letter from Sam Butcher at the end included these words: "...there is only one true Word of God--the Bible. I would encourage you to study the Scriptures, believe the truths found there, apply them to your own daily walk and invite the Savior to live within you." Then he gave his address and invited people to write him if they have questions.

I could see, in our group, many people who would not come to church; but they came to the chapel, and they listened respectfully as the guide unashamedly told about how the Lord led Sam Butcher, in place and time and action.

Philip's Room is dedicated to Butcher's son, who died in an automobile accident. The pamphlet from that room includes a page of scripture called "Words of Comfort from the Bible."

When we went to the exterior walls of the church, we found the 23rd Psalm in seven stained glass murals on one side, and parables of Jesus on the other.

Outside we saw a cave out in the woods, with a sign, "He is risen."

It was good to have been there. What was to have been a short stop for a bathroom break took us a couple of hours. And it was well worth it. Butcher's pamphlet about himself does what we are all to do: Gives glory, not to ourselves, but to God. It ends with these words: "It is my prayer that through my work in the Chapel, I might share my faith with others and that the Spirit of God might touch the visitor's hearts and bring them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Lord."

That's not cute; that's real.