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5/28/97 Bull rider’s ‘8 Seconds’ fate still points people to faith

LANE, Okla. (BP)–Eight seconds — the magic time for a bull rider.
It can seem like an eternity, both to the cowboy and the bucking animal, each intent on conquering the other.

And sometimes it is enough time to propel a person into eternity. In about that amount of time, world champion bull rider Lane Frost, 25, was speared by a bull he had just ridden and died on the rodeo arena floor.
His life became the subject of the popular cowboy film, “8 Seconds.”
But more eternally significant, as the prologue in a Bible produced in Frost’s memory recounts, “On that day he left this Earth and entered his eternal home. Lane had discovered that this world isn’t all there is to life.”
“I believe if Lane had lived a full life and died at an old age,” said Lane’s mother, Elsie Frost, “his life would never have had the impact that it has had.”

That impact includes eight people who declared their salvation at Lane’s funeral and many others who have come to his mother to tell her they were saved as a result of Lane’s death. And it includes thousands who have received a copy of the cowboy Bible with an artist’s drawing of Lane on the front, which is distributed through the home church of Lane’s parents — Lane (Okla.) Baptist Church.
Because his father, Clyde, had done some rodeoing, Lane became interested in bull riding when he was very young, his mother recounted.
“When other little boys were playing with trucks, Lane was playing rodeo,” Elsie said, starting with riding calves and graduating to steers, then bulls.
His mother noted God gave Lane a lot of athletic ability, and the rest he worked hard to attain.
He was the high school bull-riding champion his junior year, won the Oklahoma Junior Rodeo Association three years, the American Junior Rodeo Association and National Finals Youth Rodeo.
After graduating from high school in 1982, Lane joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and in 1984 qualified for his first National Finals Rodeo, which meant he was among the top 15 money winners in bull riding.
In 1986, he won the average at the NFR and in 1987 became the world champion bull rider — a goal atop his personal list.
A year after his death, he was voted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
“As Lane was growing up, he never talked about ‘if’ he became a world champion; it was ‘when,'” his mother said.
The year he became world champion, Lane added fame to his credentials when he conquered Red Rock, who had been voted “bucking bull of the year” and had gone unridden the 309 times he was bucked out. The bull’s owner came up with a promotional idea to have Lane and Red Rock go head-to-head for seven matches.
Lane was bucked off his first two rides on Red Rock, but the bout with the infamous bull concluded with Lane riding four of the seven matches.
During what should have been the happiest time of his life, Lane and his wife, Kellie, a barrel racer he married in 1985, were having marital problems.
When things got especially bad between the two and Lane thought the marriage might be over, he went to his parents’ house where he and his mother talked late into the night. “Lane sat in the chair crying his eyes out,” Elsie recalled. “He had finally run into something he didn’t know how to handle.”
Elsie said she knelt down beside her son and told him, “I’m not going to tell you this will put your marriage back together, but you need to give your life to Jesus. God has done a lot for you over the years, but you’ve never made that commitment to him you know you should make.”
There in the living room of their home, Elsie led her son in the sinner’s prayer and he was saved.
“That was the first part of the year, and he and Kellie got back together that summer,” Elsie said. “That last year was probably the happiest time of their marriage.”
Lane was killed “doing what he loved to do” July 30, 1989, at age 25.
“If Lane had died two years earlier, he would have spent an eternity in hell,” Elsie said.
When a movie company asked to make a movie about Lane’s life, Elsie said the family prayed and agonized over the decision.
“We decided to let them do a movie, hoping it would bring glory to God,” Elsie said.
But she was disappointed when the director of “8 Seconds” would not even consider putting Lane’s salvation experience in the 1994 movie.
“I was devastated,” Elsie said, “and went out behind the barn where they were filming and cried, ‘God, how could you send someone like this to work on this movie when we prayed about it?'”
Even though the movie company did what it wanted with the story, the movie had “a much greater impact than we realized,” Elsie recounted.
“After the movie, ‘8 Seconds,’ came out, we were bombarded with phone calls and letters, and all were from people who wanted to tell us how the movie had made an impact on their lives.”
Through all of the phone calls, Elsie said the main thing she wanted to tell people was that Lane was a Christian.
“To some, I had to explain how that happens, because you could tell they didn’t know,” she said.
Some friends of the Frosts brought some cowboy Bibles to the movie set in San Antonio, which were imprinted “given in memory of our brother, Lane Frost, 1987 world champion.”
Elsie gave one to the director, who later told Lane’s father, Clyde, it was one of the nicest gifts he had ever gotten.
Although the friends who brought the Bibles encouraged the Frosts to have some more printed, Elsie said she had too many complications in her life at the time. But on Valentine’s Day in 1995, Elsie said a friend came by and gave her a card. “Inside the card was the exact amount of money I needed to order the Bibles,” she said.
The Frosts contacted an artist to do a sketch of Lane for the front of the Bibles and put a personal message about Lane inside the front cover, along with the plan of salvation.
“As of now, we have given out about 7,000 Bibles, which have gone as far as Australia, Brazil and the Panama Canal,” Elsie said. “Although we accept donations, we give the Bibles free.”
Elsie said she doesn’t think it matters what is on the front of the Bible, “just as long as it makes people want it.”
“If they want it because Lane’s picture is on it, that’s fine,” she said. “I know that once it is in people’s hands, God will do the rest.”
“As proud as we are of Lane’s accomplishments, we know the most important thing he ever did was the decision he made in 1988,” Elsie said. “Because of that, we know that he is in heaven and that we will be together again someday. We feel that God gave Lane that special personality that drew people to him, and his death made a great impact on the rodeo world in particular. There have been a number of people saved because of Lane’s death, so we can hardly ask why.”

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  • Dana Williamson