Road Warrior

This preacher’s circuit runs for many miles

By Norris Burkes
January 2024

Inside Sacramento readers might be surprised to learn I write this column every week for syndication in 35 newspapers across the country. I’ve been doing it for 22 years. My favorite part is connecting with readers through personal visits, speaking tours, letters and emails.

Over the past year, I’ve visited a half-dozen places where I employ my Phil Donahue schtick. With permission of my host, I begin a pre-show routine, roaming the room with a microphone, asking guests if they have questions.

While I think I’ve shared my entire life in this column, I still get questions. As we start a new year, please indulge me as I answer a couple.

To start, you probably assume that I live in Sacramento (actually, home is Auburn). But some readers of the weekly column are surprised to learn I live in California.

I’ve stretched my Baptist roots while visiting Florida churches of various denominations on Melbourne’s Space Coast. I’ve crossed the state to speak in Lakeland and Fort Myers.

College audiences make me nervous because I’m well past average college age. But I’ve delivered seasoned inspiration at campuses in Missouri, Virginia, South Carolina and even Riverside.

Between speaking gigs in western New York, I’ve explored Watkins Glen, the Finger Lakes and waterfalls of Letchworth. The pine trees of Mountain Home, Arkansas, reminded me most of Auburn.

In all these places, readers ask about the aftermath of our downsizing in 2017, when we sold our Elk Grove home to live internationally. Yes, we had a great time in Belgium, England and Canada.

The three months we spent sharing my daughter Sara’s apartment in Honduras marked the longest period we spent with her since her college days.

Perhaps it was that stint that made us return and settle in the foothills. Who knew Sara’s spare bedroom could double as an intervention crash pad for our midlife crisis?

I’m often asked about Honduras, where Sara founded Chispa Project to establish children’s libraries in communities where none existed. It started off with just a motorcycle and a backpack of books.

Since then, Chispa has distributed more than 57,000 books. The program continues to operate at the grassroots level with support from Hondurans and international volunteers. Thank you, readers who have sent hundreds of donations over the years and those who joined us on trips to install libraries.

With the Honduran school year starting in February, Chispa will return to several older libraries to make sure they are maintained. This is no small feat, and the program can always use financial help. For information, visit

Finally, if you’re wondering how to get my weekly syndicated column, please sign up at
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Norris Burkes can be reached at Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @insidesacramento. Burkes is available for public speaking at civic organizations, places of worship, veterans groups and more. For details and fees, visit

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