Valley Center Baptist Church

Faith in the Hills

by Joshua Heston

The Christian faith was an instrument of change in the Ozarks — transitioning the hills to a place now known for its peace and its warmth.

Remember, not long ago, these hills were a war-zone with roaming bushwhackers, vigilantes, and very little peace or justice.

These days, the Christian faith is ofen regarded as out of date and out of touch. It's important to remember just what that very faith can accomplish when given a chance.

The results can be beautiful...

Christian Faith in the Ozarks

Is Christian faith in the Ozarks? It absolutely is! One example is Silver Dollar City which does a great job of capturing the flavor of the Ozarks. I was told by a gentleman who worked there that, to him, Branson and this area, is different from any other place that he knew. He had been in the navy and had traveled all over the world.

There is just a feel. It is just different, and again, I think Silver Dollar City captures that feel.

As far as living in the hills, some are the real deal. And they enjoy that kind of lifestyle and culture and it gets portrayed. And one of the aspects of that is of faith. Of faith that Jesus was real, that he was resurrected, that he is still living.

That’s who they put their faith in and it shows. It shows in the genuine friendliness they have. So the Ozarks are a very warm place. — John Tilden

plate 1. Green-roofed Valley Center Baptist Church near Hartshorn, Missouri, was first organized as Caslo Valley Church in 1896. November 8, 2009.

Yellow Pines

plate 2. A shadowed stand of yellow pine frame the entrance to Valley Center, creating a contrast of sunlight and deep black. November 9, 2008.

Psalm 121:

  • My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
  • The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
  • The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Truman Lake State Park

plate 3. Truman Lake State Park, Warsaw, Missouri. October 30, 2007.

dogwood petal

Rich Watson Joins Faith’s Journey as Tenor Singer

(Branson, MO) “We looked all over the country for the third part of our ministry team,” states Jonathan Edwards of Faith’s Journey, “and God had the right one here in our hometown. We are excited about what Rich brings to the ministry. He has a great voice and we look forward to having him on the road with us.”

“Branson has been amazing!” says Watson. “I met my wife Anna in our church and we just celebrated our seventh anniversary together in June. We’ve had the opportunity to serve the Kingdom together on staff at churches and as directors of Diamond Jym Ranch [a home for neglected, abused and homeless children].”

“Singing with Faith’s Journey fulfills a lifelong dream for me. The first time I had the opportunity to sing with Jonathan and Deana, I knew there was a great calling on the group. I look forward to sharing the many miles we have ahead of us [as a trio].”

Watson’s experience as a Branson vocalist is considerable. He was selected as a cast member in The Promise where he played many roles, including that of John the Baptist. He sang backup with Kenny Loggins, Miss Lilly Knauls, “Ireland’s Female Entertainer” Mary Duff as well as Allen Asbury. For the past six years, he has been a cast member with Smoke On The Mountain. He also sings in the show Presley Sings Elvis.

Watson is also a combat veteran who served in the US Army. He was honorably discharged after Desert Storm (1991) after which he spent 14 years as a correctional officer with the State of Misouri and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

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Celebrating & Preserving the Ozarks