JACKSON, Tenn. – Dec. 8, 2006 – For Morris Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, his first meeting as a Union University trustee was a memorable one.
So memorable that he arrived to the trustee meeting in a state police trooper’s patrol car. He just hopes it won’t happen that way again.
“I look back over the series of events with deep gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ,” Chapman said. “As I reflect upon the series of events, so many things could have happened differently, resulting in a very serious accident.”
Chapman was en route from Nashville to Jackson Dec. 1 on Interstate 40 and was about 10 miles outside of Jackson. He was driving behind an 18-wheeler in the left lane when the truck moved over to the right lane.
Suddenly, Chapman was staring down a wood chock that he said must have fallen from another 18-wheeler. He didn’t have time to dodge it entirely, so he swerved to the left and ran over the block with his two right wheels.
Both of the tires burst. Fortunately, Chapman said, the tires were run-flats and had enough firmness remaining to allow him to move over to the right side of the highway.
State police trooper Vester Jones arrived on the scene shortly. Chapman said Jones was flabbergasted that the tires remained firm despite a hole in the side wall about the size of a fist.
“He said he’d never seen one that stayed firm after blowing out,” Chapman said. “He couldn’t believe it.”
Jones escorted Chapman about a mile and a half to the nearest exit, where Chapman left his car at a gas station. Jones then offered to drive Chapman the rest of the way to the trustee meeting at Union.
“That’s part of what we do, is helping people,” Jones said. “That’s my job.”
During the drive, Chapman discovered that Jones was a Christian, and an active member of New St. Luke Baptist Church in Jackson.
“I expressed to him that day as we were riding how God has blessed me in my life and on my job every day,” Jones said.
He related to Chapman an example of God’s provision. One day when the weather was especially bad, Jones found out from the dispatcher that he was the only trooper working in Madison County that day. Jones was afraid there would be many accidents that would require his assistance, and so he prayed for God’s help.
“Not a call all day long,” Jones said.
Jones got Chapman to his destination, and Chapman was able to ride back to Nashville with a fellow trustee.
“It is the first time we have ever had a trustee arrive at a meeting in a patrol car, but we are so thankful that Dr. Chapman was able to able to get safely to the campus,” Union President David S. Dockery said. “We are excited about his service to the Union board of trustees in coming years.”
In a letter he wrote to Jones, Chapman thanked him for his help.
“I pray God’s abundant blessing upon you and your family, especially as we approach Christmas and the celebration of our Lord’s birth on earth,” Chapman wrote. “I will remain grateful to you and give thanksgiving to the Lord for the rest of my life.”