February 9, 2014 12:33:31 AM
Jan Swoope - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rick Burgess' humor and antics are well documented on radio airwaves around the country virtually every day. His Christian faith is equally well-known. On Friday, Feb. 21, the popular talk radio personality from the "Rick and Bubba Show" will entertain and inspire a Golden Triangle audience at an event hosted by First Baptist Church of Columbus.
The evening begins at 6 p.m. at the FBC Ministry and Activities Building at 3000 Bluecutt Road.
While the program will entertain, one of its goals is to also help strengthen families.
In a phone interview with The Dispatch from Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday, Burgess said, "The family is in a mess right now, and if we can fix the family, we can fix a lot of things. And, believe it or not, God has told us how that should be."
"Rick has a great testimony about what he's been through," said Bobby Sanderson of First Baptist Church, "but he's also a guy who is in the workplace every day and is uncompromising about his faith."
Burgess was raised with what he calls a "cultural faith." He explained, "Church was the appropriate thing to do, but it really wan't the center of every decision I made."
He is candid about his past. Growing up in Oxford, Ala., he wanted to be a pro football player, lead a rock band and have his own radio show. But an injury in his senior year of high school derailed a scholarship to Auburn. He ended up with a scholarship to play at Troy State.
"As arrogant as it sounds, at the time I thought it was a step down from where I should be," he said.
He started drinking the summer before college. "Once I cracked the door to that world, for the next 13 years it was a drunken mess, with divorce and everything else you could think of."
Life started to alter course after he met Shari Bodine and eventually began to plan a wedding. The problem was, the pastor he asked to perform the ceremony -- Rev. Rick Cagle -- said "no."
"He told me I'm not gonna marry you because of the way you live your life ... you're lost," Burgess recounted. "It broke my heart, and it broke my spirit, and I knew that he was right."
That encounter sent Burgess to the Bible and then to counseling. He realized he had never truly submitted to the authority of God, he said.
"It changed everything," Burgess stressed. By the time of the wedding ceremony -- which was officiated by Cagle -- he could "feel the presence of the holy spirit."
The Burgess' faith would be called on many times, but never moreso than in January 2008, when the couple's 2-year-old son, Bronner, drowned in the family's swimming pool. Their hearts were crushed. But Rick Burgess felt led to share testimony at his son's service; his words reached YouTube and have since impacted many, many others in a positive way.
He encourages anyone coming to the Feb. 21 event to bring a friend, to join in laughter and hopefully be uplifted by "that guy they hear on the radio."
Sanderson remarked, "We want to encourage the body of Christ and strengthen families at this evening sponsored by our Covenant Men's Ministry and Women's Ministry. It will probably hit closely with parents who are raising children."
How to go
Tickets are $10, available at the First Baptist Church office at 202 Seventh St. N. and at New Life Christian Supplies, 1920-2 Highway 45 N. A boxed meal catered by Mugshots is included. For more information, contact the church office, 662-328-3915.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.