Sports: About More than the Game
CrossHeirs Retreat Center, a 14,000 square-foot former duck club sporting 16 rooms and three stories, is part of Mosler’s Beautiful Feet Ministry, which is intended to “inspire, encourage and motivate believers to all that God created them to be.”
Photographs courtesy of Matt Mosler
Matt Mosler isn’t an ordinary preacher. As a matter of fact, he probably wouldn’t call himself a preacher.
Listen to him for only a short time, though, and it’s evident his heart lies in the ministry. The same short conversation will reveal he wears a lot of hats. A preacher’s hat might as well be one of them.
The charismatic, always smiling, Mosler is best known as co-host for KARK Channel 4’s early-morning show. Wearing that hat, he carries a persona most of us have grown accustomed to in our “talking heads” on television: clean-cut, pressed suit wrapped around a toothy grin and down-home charm.
“I think people often have that perception, yeah, but I think they have the perception of a lot of people on TV, because you’re wearing coats and ties, and you have the toothy grin,’’ Mosler said. “ But I grew up in northern California outside of Reno up in the Sierra Mountains. Everybody around me was a logger. These guys had those big burly caterpillar mustaches, you know, and their hands were nothing but calluses; those are the people I grew up around. Now, I look like a little boy and I sound like a little girl. That’s still kind of my stock.”
Take him outdoors and all that just goes away. The suit is replaced with jeans and a cowboy hat, and the news desk makes way for a stack of firewood that needs cutting and splitting.
“I love it [outdoors],” he said, “To get away, get the tie off, to come out here and cut wood and mow grass and build things … this is where I love to be.”
It helps that Mosler has combined all his loves into one project, the CrossHeirs Retreat Center on the banks of Bayou Metro near Stuttgart, Arkansas. There the polished newscaster looks more like a redneck, sounds more like a preacher.
CrossHeirs Retreat Center, a 14,000 square-foot former duck club sporting 16 rooms and three stories, is part of Mosler’s Beautiful Feet Ministry, which is intended to “inspire, encourage and motivate believers to all that God created them to be.” Its name comes from the biblical verse in Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”
Mosler intends for this new center to create a lot of beautiful feet in the years to come. He struggles with defining the retreat center. Like his life, the center appears to be available for a lot of things. In less than a year, it’s been the site of women’s, men’s and youthretreats and even a 50-year wedding celebration.
“We are not a hunting club; this is a Christian-based getaway,’’ Mosler said, “It’s a place for thinking, prayer … you know, a place to put away the electronic devices. The fact that it’s right in the middle of world-renowned duck hunting just makes it better.”
Though Mosler has been a part of the electronic industry for decades, he’s had a vision for a getaway like this for years. “I was duck hunting with some guys about eight years ago, and we just had a great time, sitting in the lodge, talking and laughing,’’ Mosler said. “ I mean these were a good bunch of Christian guys, and we just had a great time. We started thinking this is really what we need to do, to reach out to people and get guys in an environment where they’re comfortable, where we can fellowship, talk, mentor one another … that sort of thing. So we started our CrossHeirs Outdoor Ministry.”
Their first getaway was located at Big Ditch, on the highway from Little Rock to Stuttgart. That was followed by a moldy, mice-infested cabin near Seaton, followed by a house trailer in Wrightsville and eventually culminating into the 14,000 square-foot lodge formerly operated under the title Pintail Peninsula. In that former life, the lodge was dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as “The Taj Mahal of Duck Hunting.”
Make no mistake about it, hunting is at the core of this retreat. It’s still surrounded by some of the best hunting in the country. Mosler and others can, and do, take part in duck hunts and deer hunts. They even organized dove shoots and have built a reservoir for fishing. Hunting has been one consistent bind that Mosler has woven through his CrossHeirs Outdoor Ministry. The name practically says it all.
The hunting and fishing, though, is secondary. “The reason we have this is to help people fulfill their ministries. We wanted to provide a place where churches and ministries can come,” Mosler said. “The very first event we held was last December for a group of six couples. They had an idea for a ministry, but they didn’t know what specifically. They just needed a place to get away — away from children, solemn, city and whatever, and work out [their issues]. So they came here on a Friday. They moved the furniture in this little semi-circle around the television. They turned the television to a Power Point presentation and put up a white board. They had their notebooks in front of them, and for three days they sat, prayed, talked, wrote and fought; and by the end of the retreat a ministry had been born.
“That’s the whole reason we do this. We get so busy with so much stuff — all this periphery — we never slow down long enough to hear. Prayer is not just ‘thank you God for the food.’ It’s not just talking to God. It’s having the opportunity to listen to Him. And when you get in a place like this, where the wind is blowing, birds are chirping, deer are walking, you get out in creation … you can hear.”
“For me as much as I have enjoyed television over the years, I don’t really belong in television — I’m not your typical ‘TV guy.’ I think about the people who come out here, the lives that are changed, the ministries that are born, and that excites me. This is what I would like to do for the rest of my life. You know, having a place like this where people can come and get away, and get in touch with that little stirring within their hearts — something you can’t get to with all the noise everywhere else — to have a place where they can get in touch with that, that’s exciting to me.”