This article originally ran in the Cleveland Daily Banner on December 26, 2018
Lettie Whisman, a community representative with Trek thru Truth, uses her love for God and writing talents to help bring the interactive Christian museum into existence.
While some of the board involved with the museum met its president, Doug Caywood, as colleagues, Whisman has known the man since he was young, as her late daughter, Shela, was a classmate and friend of Caywood’s and also a longtime fellow congregant with her family at Valley View Baptist Church.
A Bradley Central High School alumna, Whisman later attended UTC before having her five children and working as a full-time writer.
Due to her hectic schedule as a freelance writer, she initially doubted her ability to help with the program, but was hooked upon hearing Caywood’s pitch.
“It just sounded and felt right, like this is something I need to be part of,” Whisman said.
As a writer, she has written several books and uses her talent to convey the message of Trek thru Truth and Caywood’s vision to the world.
Throughout her children’s upbringing, there has always been a plaque on the wall with the biblical verse from 3 John: 4, which reads, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” She said she has ensured her children grew up knowing the truth of Jesus Christ and to live their lives through Him, which perfectly aligns with the overall mission of Trek thru Truth.
“My kids walked past that plaque coming in the house and going out. Every day of their lives, they were told that because we’re believers, we live differently,” she said. “We believed the title of Trek thru Truth perfectly encapsulated this belief. We wanted it to sound catchy and memorable too. Then, one night I realized the name was in that verse and it stuck.”
Whisman said Caywood’s 10-person team working on the museum is composed of some of the most brilliant minds in design, architecture, IT and countless other disciplines.
She added how Caywood has persevered during times when most people would have given up and attributes this to God’s intervention.
While the team hopes to break ground on a permanent location for the museum potentially in 2020, no plans have been solidified as of yet.
Whisman began working with Caywood 12 years ago, and took trips with the team to religious museums around the country such as the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum in order to see how each one conveyed their messages and operated.
The location in Cleveland is believed to be perfect due to its nearby proximity to Chattanooga and the Ocoee River’s tourism industry. Whisman also cited the close bond among residents here, as most people know one another and are fervently Christian with representation from numerous denominations.
While she’s typically not involved with the museum’s design, one segment Caywood intended Whisman to have a hand in is the Forever Remembered Garden. This addition will be a full garden for parents who have lost children throughout the area to memorialize them. A large tree will be in the center, with small wind chimes hung from its branches through a donation by a parent in memory of each child.
“We may allow them to include a photo or something too, but the wind chimes can still represent a child’s life, and for a children’s museum to be able to commemorate that is just astounding,” she said.
Trek thru Truth recently held a massive fundraiser that was a huge financial success for the museum, and also served as a method of boosting awareness among the community.
Whisman says the uniqueness of the project itself is one reason she expects it to be successful.
“There’s nothing like this anywhere else in the country,” she said. “The amount of detail involved and just how interactive Trek thru Truth will be puts it into a league all its own.”
She also believes the museum would serve as an excellent resource for Christian families concerned about their children losing their way or being taught false truths. Being far from a dull read, the Bible is about family, according to Whisman, who said that one of the central goals of Trek thru Truth is to instill in children a thirst for more biblical knowledge through its groundbreaking, interactive exhibits.
Urging Cleveland residents to learn more about the museum, Whisman said that donations are always needed — even small sums — as well as community representatives who can serve as an ambassador for the attraction in their schools, homes and churches.
“This is going to be such a community success. Doug’s got a great vision for the future, and through Cleveland’s help, we’ll bring this amazing attraction as well as the stories of the Bible to our area,” Whisman said.
For more information on Trek thru Truth, call 423-665-9229, check out its Facebook page or its website at www.trekthrutruth.com.