CONWAY, Mo. – What’s a passion in your life? How far would you go to share what’s important to you with others? Two Laclede County men are have gone to great lengths to share a religious message with people who pass by a piece of rural property.
People driving by the intersection of Highways 5 and J, about 15 miles east of Conway, might wonder what in the world they’re seeing.
“I’d say about a year ago I wanted to do something for Jesus Christ. And the reason I did this is to show my love for Him” says Ralph Douglas, property owner.
So Laclede County native Ralph Douglas got the idea to build a cross, a nativity scene, and a tomb on this property where he’s lived for more than 50 years.
“Jesus Christ told us to be witnesses. And that’s what this is all about. To be a witness for him. So what we’ve got is his birth, his death, and his resurrection and telling the world he’s going to return again” says Douglas.
To get the project going Ralph called his friend Larnce Berry. Berry is retired now, but for more than 40 years he was known as one of the area’s top masons.
“He told me what he had in mind. And I told him I’d help him if the Lord let me live long enough” said Berry.
“I said Mr. Berry what’s it going to cost to get you to help me build this thing? He said just your friendship” recalls Douglas.
In 2017 Douglas and Berry got to work and the tomb took shape. Berry was in charge of carefully laying each brick and stone in the front.
“Well I don’t think there’s anything like this around this country here,” says Berry.
“When we get the sidewalk built, and our sign up and the lighting here and our rocks arranged, it’s going to be open for business. No charge” laughs Douglas.
But already they’ve had people passing by stop to ask about the project. Even some from as far away as Alberta Canada.
“They were coming from Florida and they went by and saw it and they turned around and came back,” said Douglas.
“If people come by and are interested and they’ll stop and look and see what it’s all about why maybe it’d make them stop and think about their life. Their soul” said Berry.
Beyond the obvious message of the monument, Ralph Douglas hopes the project might serve as an inspiration to others getting on in age, but who still feel young at heart.
“A lot of games are won in the 4th quarter. He’s 85 and we’re both in overtime. So we can still accomplish things. And so I’d like to say to older Christians, we can still win in the fourth quarter” says Douglas.
Douglas says once they get the grass planted and the project all finished, he’d be glad to let churches come to the tomb on his property and hold sunrise services. If you’d like to see it for yourself, it’s 15 miles east of Conway on Highway J, right where it intersects with Highway 5.