HAMPTON, Ark. (BP)–The public display of the Ten Commandments in several states has caught the eye of many spectators, some of whom have legally forced the removal of these God-given mandates from public property. But don’t expect a billboard-sized Ten Commandments display in south Arkansas to come down anytime soon.
On the southbound side of Highway 167, a thoroughfare from Little Rock to south Arkansas, Joe Glass, a member of Galilee Baptist Church in El Dorado, has posted the Ten Commandments on a 8-by-20-foot leased billboard located on the outskirts of Hampton, a small town about 25 miles north of El Dorado.
“You never know who might pass by this sign and need to be encouraged,” said Glass. “God tells us … that his Word will not return void. I just don’t believe that anyone can read God’s Word and not be affected in some way by it.”
Many people who travel the state highway might never attend a church to hear the Word of God, Glass said. “I believe that placing the Ten Commandments on the sign will allow more people to see and read the Word,” he said of the billboard, which is colorfully painted in primary colors. No church is identified, nor is Glass.
“It’s just another way to express God’s Word. Every little thing we do for the Lord can make a difference.”
Glass said he chose the Hampton location a few months ago because of its high-traffic and 45 mph speed limit. Previously he had leased a sign in El Dorado. “Hopefully, drivers are slowing down in the city limits,” he said. As a result, “they have more time to take a look at the sign.”
One Hampton pastor, Horace Dunn, said the sign is a hit among community residents. “It caught my attention right away,” he said. “I keep hearing positive things about the sign.”
The idea to post the Ten Commandments on a highway billboard came to Glass while he was traveling to Little Rock a few years ago. Recalling that often roadside signs and advertisements depict or promote non-Christian images or products, Glass said, “I told my wife, ‘There should be signs that lift up and encourage people’ instead of being so negative.”
He soon took his own advice. With his wife’s help, the couple designed and painted the sign. This task came easy for Glass who worked with a sign company several years ago.
Grabbing the attention of travelers is his goal, Glass said, acknowledging he has received more attention than he anticipated. Thankfully, he said, he has heard no negative feedback from anyone who would oppose the Ten Commandments.
In recent months, a local television reporter tracked down Glass through the leasing company and asked to interview him about his “interesting” sign. He hesitantly agreed. “I wanted God to have all the glory, not me. I just want people to be blessed.”
Since that time, Glass has received several phone calls from friends, co-workers and family who have praised him for taking the time and money to fund the project. Another area resident went so far as to write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper thanking the “anonymous” person who put up the Ten Commandments sign.
He also received encouragement from the leasing company president who told him, “I hope you can reach everyone you are hoping to reach.”
Glass faced a few obstacles in tackling the project. While preparing the sign, he pulled a muscle in his right shoulder, forcing him to postpone its completion. He also faced the sickness and eventual death of a family member that hindered his plans. “I knew Satan was trying to detract me, but I was determined to get that sign up,” he declared.
Eventually Glass was able to post the sign, but another obstacle soon flared up, literally. An electrical transformer near the billboard exploded, causing the nearby grass and underbrush to catch fire. The poles attached to the sign also caught fire, but the Ten Commandments were unharmed, he noted.
Although Glass has contemplated moving the sign to another site, he said, wherever he decides to relocate it he hopes the message will reach people. “I will never know until I get to heaven who … has been touched by God’s Word on the sign,” he stated. “I only hope it has somehow been a blessing.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MASSIVE MESSAGE.