The story of bull rider Lane Frost is well-known today to anyone with an interest in the world of rodeo. Frost was known as a kind-hearted rodeo man who never turned down an autograph-seeker and always helped when he was needed.
Frost ascended to the top of his profession in 1987, becoming the National Champion Bull Rider at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Two years later, Frost ascended to Heaven after a tragic accident claimed his life in the rodeo arena.
A few years later, the movie “8 seconds” introduced Frost’s story to the world. While the movie contained a good deal of embellishment that wasn’t necessarily appreciated by Frost’s family, his mother and father today have found a vehicle to share Frost’s truest nature with the world.
On July 4, Elsie Frost, Lane’s mother, shared the story of Lane’s salvation with members and friends at Crossroads Cowboy Church in Madisonville. She said accepting Jesus Christ into his life was the most important decision Lane ever made, and a script that she at first did not agree with has found a way into the hearts of believers and families that she never expected it to.
“I thought it’s (the movie) not going to appeal to little kids, and that would have been so important to Lane because he loved little kids, but was I ever wrong about that,” Elsie Frost said. “Those little kids today that weren’t even born when Lane died, their parents come up and say they watch that movie all the time and have all the lines memorized and know what they’re going to say before they even say it. That’s got to be a God thing.”
Independence Day at Crossroads Cowboy Church was an honor to both God and country. Children who carry on the cowboy heritage that is such a major part of the Cowboy Church roped and participated in stick horse races on one end of the “I Believe” Arena while their parents enjoyed fellowship and country music in lawn chairs and on beach towels at the other.
The July 4 celebration served as the dedication of the arena, which Crossroads Cowboy Church will utilize in the same way many churches utilize a family life center. During the opening dedication, a short prayer blessed the arena with hopes that it would bring the message to all who enter and bless all as they depart.
Several talented musical acts, including Dennis Ivey and Madisonville High School student Crickett Coleman, set the tone for the evening. When Elsie and Clyde Frost took the stage, Elsie mentioned that it was an accomplishment to simply get her husband on stage. Elsie told her family’s story while Clyde sat behind her on stage throughout tale. The husband and wife signed books and passed out Bibles after finishing their presentations while festivities continued all around the “I Believe” Arena.
Elsie’s story began with recollections of Lane as a young man and his passion for rodeo that started at an early age. She spoke of his becoming a professional bull rider, and his subsequent marriage to Kellie Kyle, another professional rodeo participant.
Lane’s salvation, however, was not something he came to particularly early in life. He was never a godless individual, but did not fully accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior until encouraged to do so by his mother following a period of marital strife.
Elsie continued to speak about her experience with the director of “8 Seconds,” following Lane’s death, and how the director did not wish to focus on Lane’s salvation in the film.
Her time trying to convince him of its importance to the story of Lane’s life was a difficult one for herself and Clyde.
“I told him about Lane’s salvation and how important that was to us for it to be in the movie,” Elsie Frost said, “and he looked at me kind of funny and said ‘I guess you know there will be atheists watching this movie’ and I said ‘well there will be Christians watching it too,’ and he said ‘well I just don’t think that’s appropriate,’ and it just hit me between the eyes and I said ‘you’re an atheist aren’t you,’ and he said ‘well I call myself an agnostic’ and I’m not even sure what that is but I think they don’t believe in anything.”
“I went out behind the barn and cried and I said, ‘God, how could You send this man to direct this movie?’ God spoke to me as clearly as He ever has and He said everybody is here for a reason. I didn’t know what that means exactly and we could have just walked away but we decided to hang in there and make a few changes if we possibly could, but before it was over I could kind of see what God was talking about.”
“Most of us were kind of raised in this Bible belt and have some background of religion, but I guarantee you that some of those people from Hollywood do not have a clue. Through that movie we were able to get close to them, sometimes not by words as much as actions. There is an old saying, ‘Go into the world and spread the gospel, and when you have to, speak.’ At least we could pray for some of those people who have probably never had a prayer said for them before. We handed out quite a few Bibles and of course there were other Christians on the set as well.”
The day that “8 Seconds” was first screened for friends and family members was one of mixed emotions for Clyde and Elsie. The two had never liked the amount of foul language contained in the movie, nor did they approved of the portrayal of Clyde and several of Lane’s friends. However, Elsie said that she was less disappointed than she thought she would have been upon viewing the finished product.
However, she was not prepared at all for the type of response she received.
“The thing I hated the most was the way they portrayed Clyde,” Elsie Frost said. “They made him out to be a dad that was never satisfied no matter what he might do and that’s just not true. The amazing thing to me was after they showed it that first time, Kellie’s mom came over and told Clyde, ‘You’re character is going to be the hero of this movie.’ I was just kind of stunned. I didn’t know what she was talking about, but we were absolutely inundated with letters and phone calls from people we had never even heard of, and so many of them said Clyde’s character made them realized that they needed to mend a relationship with a daughter or a dad or something. So the part that I hated the worst God was able to use.
“We so underestimate God sometimes. God can bring some good things even out of tragedy. We knew Lane’s death would make an impact on the rodeo world, but because of the movie it did give me the opportunity to go tell about his salvation.”
She has been doing so ever since. Clyde and Elsie Frost spoke with seemingly every person at Crossroads Cowboy Church on the night of July 4. A line twisted from their table all the way to the entrance of the arena after their presentation. It seemed a fitting way to dedicate the “I Believe” Arena, also a family life center, as Lane’s belief that once saved his marriage could be spread to any who needed to hear the message for the first time, or perhaps again.
Elsie’s final words before leaving the stage were to encourage everyone to find the love that she, her husband, and her son had found in their lives.
The tragedy they dealt with will no doubt always be with them, but the message they have found the strength to share will perhaps impact more lives than Lane’s time in the rodeo arena ever could.
“Lane was saved about a year-and-a-half before he died,” Elsie Frost said. “If he didn’t do that, he would be spending an eternity in hell right now, and that’s hard for a mother to say, but that’s so true. Of all the things that Lane did, we know that the very most important thing he ever did was accept Jesus Christ as his savior and be saved.
“Sometimes we make it so complicated, but you can go behind the barn or bow your head anywhere and let God know that you believe in his son Jesus and he sent him to die for our sins. You do need to tell somebody about it. It’s not something you can keep a secret. Believe me, it’s the most important thing you ever do.
“We just don’t know. I just pray that any of you that haven’t accepted Jesus will do so.”