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FIRST-PERSON: A few minutes with Adrian Rogers

CORDOVA, Tenn. (BP)–Adrian Rogers wouldn’t give us a minute of his time.

That’s what he told my dad in 1985 the first time I met him. My dad had raved about Dr. Rogers for years, and he had always wanted to attend the famous Bellevue Baptist Church.

So when I was 11 years old, we traveled to Memphis on vacation, and Bellevue Baptist Church was the main attraction. Such is the life of a pastor’s son.

When we arrived in town on a Saturday afternoon, dad wanted to drive by the church first thing before we even got to the hotel. As we were doing so, we met a car going in the other direction.

“That was Adrian Rogers,” dad told us.

“Yeah dad, sure it was,” my brother and I said.

He was serious, and he quickly turned the car around. Sure enough, the car he had just seen pulled up in front of a door at Bellevue. Dr. Rogers emerged from the car and began to walk inside as my dad pulled up alongside him.

“Dr. Rogers, I know you’re a busy man, but if I could just have a minute of your time, I’d like for my sons to meet you,” Dad told him.

“You may not have a minute of my time,” Dr. Rogers replied. “You may have more than that.”

And with that, Adrian Rogers invited us into his office, where we sat and chatted with him for several minutes. After the conversation, he took us on a tour of the church. He also showed us a video about the church, and stood there with us the entire time. All told, he spent about an hour with us that day.

Dr. Rogers had just returned that week from a contentious Southern Baptist Convention. He had to be tired, and he had to be swamped, but on that Saturday afternoon he treated us like we were the most important people in the world.

A few years later, when I was a student in college, I wrote an editorial about abortion in the college newspaper. A couple of weeks after the newspaper was published, I checked my mailbox one day and saw a letter from Bellevue Baptist Church.

I opened it to find a note from Dr. Rogers commending me for what I had written in that article. My jaw dropped. I don’t know how he ever saw that story, but his letter remains one of my prized possessions.

These are experiences I will never forget. And I’m not alone.

Judging from the testimonies I heard March 4 and 6 as Bellevue Baptist Church celebrated the ministry of the man who has been their pastor for the past 32 years, countless others have stories similar to mine.

They told how much of a difference Dr. Rogers had made in their lives. They told how he was always willing to spend as much time with them as they needed. They told how he was a man of uncompromising boldness, of robust integrity, of unrelenting faithfulness, of boundless compassion.

They told how they have grown to love this man for all the same reasons I have. So although I was not on the program, they told my story for me.

Following our first encounter with Dr. Rogers, he and my dad became acquaintances. Their conversations and correspondence over the years have brought my father a great amount of satisfaction.

Adrian Rogers has always been one of my dad’s heroes. For that, among other things, Dr. Rogers will always be one of mine.
Tim Ellsworth serves as director of news & media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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