Derby Points Kids to Eternal Race

January 07, 2014 | Jennifer Mundall

Five, four, three, two, one ... go! Four kid-carved, 5-ounce pine cars take off down a long wooden track. Speed of course is determined by the volume of the spectators' cheers, it seems. Kids are fully engaged and having a blast. What kind of event could this be? It's Columbia Basin Pathfinder's annual Pinewood Derby.

Each year the derby is a highlight for many Pathfinders. Larry Mays, Sunnyside (Wash.) SonRays director and Sunnyside Church pastor, acknowledged, “We have participated in the Pinewood Derby for at least 15 years, and it has never lost its spark to energize our Pathfinders.” This year's derby hosted 114 registered cars. Each car raced four times, and each Pathfinder received ribbons for “show” as well as for racing, ensuring that everyone left a winner.

Naturally, any good event requires good leaders, and right at the center of all the action were Columbia Basin area coordinators Frosty and June Cross. Coordinators for 17 years, the Crosses have now hosted derbies for 20 successive years. For them, Pathfinders is about something much more profound than blue ribbons; Pathfinders is about reaching kids for Jesus.

Every year the Crosses devote countless hours to derbies, teen mission adventures, honors days, jamborees, investitures, Bible bowls and, Frosty's personal favorite, attending Pathfinder baptisms. Even a recent diagnosis of advanced cancer couldn't keep Frosty away from "his" kids this fall. In return, the Pathfinders couldn't be more enthusiastic about their love for Frosty.

Alex Parkhurst, a 14-year-old Wind Valley Arrows (Cle Elum, Wash.) Pathfinder, writes, “He [Frosty] is on fire for God. Even though he was in pain and sick, I'm very appreciative that Frosty had the will to drive to our church and give us four guys our baptismal pins.”

Marlee Montgomery, also a teen Pathfinder from Wind Valley, adds, “When we need him, Frosty is there. I love how he is always smiling, even when anyone else would think that he has every right to stay home and mope around, but instead he is hanging out with us.”

According to Cindy Johnson, Othello (Wash.) Outreachers director, “Pathfinders is truly his mission. He loves the kids. At camporees, he comes around to welcome the clubs and ask the directors and staff if everything is okay. But I think he really comes to visit the kids. That's when his face lights up — when they come out to greet him. He has such a rapport with them and truly wants them all to find Jesus.”

For Mays, “Frosty is the epitome of Pathfindering.”

David Parkhurst, Wind Valley Arrows director, agrees with many others when he says, "I am blessed to have him as a mentor." Indeed Frosty has challenged Columbia Basin Pathfinders to participate in another race where every participant can also be a winner — a  race where the prize is eternal life.

Editor's Note: Frosty Cross died Dec. 5, 2013. "I will never be able to express how much I will miss him," says Wayne Hicks, UCC Pathfinder director. "He brought to me, to you, this world and especially to his family, an understanding of what it meant to be a 'servant of God and a friend to man.'"