WALK LIKE A MAN (OF GOD)

Clint Morgan

WALK LIKE A MAN (OF GOD)

I walked into my living room to chat with my wife. As I approached, she looked up and said, “Sometimes you walk just like your dad. When you walked in, it sort of gave me a flashback.”

I responded, “I would love to know that I could be half the man my dad was.”

Lynette, of course, was talking about my walk in a literal sense. I, on the other hand, was coming at it from the figurative sense. Either way, I do not consider it an insult to “walk” like my dad. He passed away in 2005, the same year my father-in-law Dr. LaVergne Miley went to be with the Lord. Two great men of God left this world in the same year. My dad was a church planter/pastor in North Carolina. I learned many wonderful things from him. Three things, in particular, come to mind.

  • One, he was absolutely committed to the task. He literally wore holes in his shoes as he went out knocking on doors to share his faith.
  • Second, he was a true man of his word. When he said he would do something you could bank on it. He didn’t use fancy, flattering words. Neither was he curt or disrespectful. He was simply always truthful.
  • Third, in the years he pastored, I never heard him, or my mother, speak disparagingly of anyone in the church. This probably is the biggest lesson learned.

If you ask me, those are pretty big shoes to fill. I may walk from point A to point B as he did, but it is my deep desire to truly “walk”, in the figurative sense, as he did. Do you have a hero in the faith? Do you “walk” as they do?

Hanna’s Journey

Dr. Neil Gilliland

Hanna’s Journey

Hanna didn’t grow up Free Will Baptist. Her family had been out of church for quite some time but started attending a small Free Will Baptist church in Hector, Arkansas, where her great-grandmother attended. When her family moved to Wichita, Kansas, they attended the Westside Free Will Baptist Church. It was there Hanna actually accepted Christ and started her journey of faith.

A couple of weeks after her conversion, a young man in her church gave a presentation on his recent E-TEAM mission trip to France. Hanna was so impressed she said, “I want to be a part of that.” So she applied to E-TEAM, searched online to find other information, learned there was a Free Will Baptist college in Nashville, and signed up for Senior Days in January. She was accepted to E-TEAM Spain.

“I still remember opening the acceptance package and seeing I was going to Spain. I was thrilled.” The young man who did the presentation reapplied for E-TEAM and was assigned to E-TEAM Cuba. Eventually, he had to drop out and was replaced by a young man from Michigan.

Hanna attended Senior Days at Welch College in January. In June, she arrived at the Nashville airport to report for E-TEAM. Met by a former E-TEAMer, the husband of the E-TEAM coordinator, they waited a little while, because the boy from Michigan was about to arrive. Hanna’s trip to Spain was life-altering. She went home for the rest of the summer, then left in the fall for the only college she applied to…Welch.

Four years later, she graduated with a degree in psychology and a passion for missions born on E-TEAM. The day after graduation, it was the young man from Michigan’s turn to wait…for Hanna as she walked down the aisle to become his new bride.

Today, Hanna, with her husband Dakota Mott, demonstrates her contagious passion for Christ and missions. The young man (Heath Hubbard) who picked her up at the airport now serves Christ in Japan with his wife Joni, the former E-TEAM coordinator.

Guess who replaced Joni? That’s right, Hanna Mott. The high school student who knew very little about Free Will Baptists or missions is now responsible for E-TEAM.

Please pray for Hanna and our ten teams that will circle the globe this summer. Who knows…some of them may one day serve overseas as missionaries or join the stateside team.

Carving A Personal Mount Rushmore

Clint Morgan

Carving A Personal Mount Rushmore

Several years ago, a radio show host asked listeners something like, “If you could carve your own Mount Rushmore, what four faces would be on it?” In short order, the station began receiving calls.

I was out of range of the station before I could hear all the responses. I heard listeners mention the names of parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, or other significant influencers. I pondered the question for a while and could not settle on just four names. At any rate, it would probably be pretty risky for me to post a list with just four names on it.

As I toyed with the idea, I decided I could come up with the names of four people who influenced me as a missionary. These names came across my radar screen. The list is not meant to be exhaustive nor definitive.

Laura Belle Barnard—my first mission teacher at Free Will Baptist Bible College (now Welch). She was a godly woman with a passion for life, the Word of God, and souls. All who sat under her teaching sat in awe as she spoke with passion, authority, and humility about missionary life and ministry.

Dan Cronk—my mentor and friend. Dan had one of the most interesting minds I have ever been privileged to probe. He was an avid reader, eccentric thinker, and quintessential theorist. Each moment I spent with him was a learning moment.

LaVerne Miley—my father-in-law and the godliest man most of us will ever meet. He was a gentle teacher and lived out everything he believed and taught. Extremely gracious to me, he embraced me as a son-in-law, fellow missionary, and brother in Christ.

Eddie Payne—my on-the-field mentor. Arriving in Africa as a rookie missionary, I could not have found a more patient, kind, and clear speaking mentor. Always ready to answer my questions, he never forced information on me nor made me feel inadequate or incompetent. What a great person to have in one’s life when beginning on the mission field.

Well, that’s my quick list. How about you? Who comes to mind that might make your Mount Rushmore? We should be eternally grateful to the people God brings into our lives who exhort, edify, correct, and encourage us.

Stay or Leave?

Clint Morgan

Stay or Leave?

Stay or leave? That looks like a straightforward question with two possible answers. In most situations, the question does not appear too complicated. However, the stakes go up considerably if your life hangs in the balance of your answer.

In Central Asia, I have met many people who faced this question. Three stories with three different outcomes come to mind.

  • Story 1: A young pastor was told if he preached the gospel one more time in his village, he would be killed. That very night he sent his wife and children away. He brought his case to the village counsel, but his point of view only enflamed the people against him. The threat was repeated in front of all those gathered. The pastor carefully weighed out his options and chose to leave this village and find ministry elsewhere.
  • Story 2: A pastor was told to leave town or he would regret staying. He chose not to leave. He was awakened early one Saturday morning by an angry mob surrounding his house. They tore the gates off the hinges, stormed into his courtyard, entered his home, and beat the pastor severely, leaving him with a broken arm and contusions. In spite of this severe opposition and continued threats, he and his family chose to return to the same village after his recovery and continue serving there.
  • Story 3: A man in prison heard the gospel. He was greatly moved by the message and became a true Christ-follower. Later, he pastored a church in a town with 33 registered mosques and one evangelical church. Threatened many times, he was told to cease preaching in that town. Undaunted by the threats of unbelievers, he happily shared his faith with many people. Each night he sat in his living room, which also served as the gathering place for the believers, for his quiet time. On one such night, several shots shattered the windows of his home and three bullets found their target. He dropped to the floor and soon died.

Now, the question is, which of these three did God’s will? Thousands upon thousands of believers around the world live in constant danger. Let’s lift them up in prayer, asking God to give courage and strength each day to face the opposition Satan hurls at them. Pray, as they live in this challenging environment, they will be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

The Joy of Arriving on the Field

Clint Morgan

The Joy of Arriving on the Field

If there is one particular moment of my missionary life I would love for everyone to experience, it is the precise moment I saw the coastline of Côte d’Ivoire for the first time.

Lynette and I were sure God had directed us to serve Him together in Côte d’Ivoire. We’d completed all the training the Mission required. In September 1977, we left the United States for a year of language study in Albertville, France. Leaving the U.S. was a sad time for us, but knowing this would take us one step closer to Côte d’Ivoire brought us great joy.

After successfully passing our French exams, we boarded a cargo ship, The Randa, for a 10-day trip to Côte d’Ivoire. Due to the slow processes of unloading at certain docks, the trip dragged into a 20-day venture. I was seasick for six of them. Needless to say, those days were not what I would count among the joys of the missionary life.

However, on August 6, 1978, we awoke from a peaceful night at sea and found ourselves anchored within view of a beautiful palm tree-lined seashore. A ship’s steward walked by and I asked to identify the country we were seeing. He paused briefly, pointed to the palm trees, stated ‘That is Côte d’Ivoire,” and kept walking.

Suddenly it hit me…we were seeing our new “home.” Lynette and I began to laugh, cry, shout a bit, repeating “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord,” and perhaps even did a little jig. My heart was flooded, even overflowing, with joy. This joy and peace of being smack dab in the middle of God’s will is a heart-stopping moment I can easily wish for every believer to enjoy. 

The Joy of Preparation

Clint Morgan

The Joy of Preparation

Many of us enjoy the fruits of our labor, but few of us enjoy the labor that produced the fruit. As I look back on the long and winding trail that took me from the call to the field, it becomes clear my preparation was a mixture of formal and informal.

At times He was at work, preparing me for field service, and it was not evident—at least not to me. For example, my parents were church planters with a real heart for the world. We often hosted missionaries for meals and to spend the night in our home. We sat and listened for hours as a missionary took us on adventure after adventure with intriguing stories from the field. Through these informal times my mind and heart opened to discover, explore, and eventually engage in becoming a missionary.

After finishing high school, I headed to Welch College. At college I met, fell in love with, and married Lynette (Miley) whose parents were pioneer missionaries to Côte d’Ivoire, Africa. From Lynette and her parents I gained an insider’s view of missionary life. In the classroom, at mission conferences, and other cross-cultural training programs I prepared to GO! All these learning experiences were essential elements of His preparation for Lynette and me to serve Him in Africa.

Shortly after college, The Donelson Fellowship, a church in Nashville, Tennessee, employed me as youth minister. They became my home church during that period and remain so to this day. The wonderful people of this congregation have been an ongoing source of training, development, and encouragement for Lynette and me. They played a key role in preparing us to serve cross-culturally and sent us out with their blessings and support, financially and spiritually.

These factors, among many others, figured into our preparation for field service. I look back on these areas of preparation with great joy and sincerely thank each one who played a role in our formation. 

The Joy of Answering the Call

Clint Morgan

The Joy of Answering the Call

God moved in my heart with a clear direction for my life as a 15-year-old at youth camp.

Mom Willey, former missionary to Panama and Cuba (now deceased), spoke that night. I wasn’t the only camper moved by her testimony and appeal for us to consider God’s will for our lives.

From then to this day, Africa found its place in my heart. I am confident my love for the people of Africa will never go away. I cried many tears of joy during that period of my life. Not everyone will have the same emotional reaction, but all who submit to His will experience abundant joy.

I am thoroughly convinced few actions in our lives provide the level of joy that accompanies submitting to His will.

Interested in learning more about Mom Willey? Read Beyond the Gate.

The Joys of Being a Missionary

Clint Morgan

The Joys of Being a Missionary

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at a local church for their world missions emphasis banquet. The assigned topic was something like the joys of the missionary life. Few parameters were set, so I felt the liberty to proceed with a personal form of presentation.

My mind rapidly trailed back through my life and various experiences as a missionary. It would take volumes to present all I could share about this wonderful venture for Christ.

Lest I be misunderstood (or perhaps, in some minds, misleading), great struggle and challenges often dot missionary experiences. But, for these next few blogs, I want to focus on the “joys of being a missionary.”

I can say without hesitation or reserve, I loved being a missionary on the field! Those years in Africa were not always easy, but never once did I regret the opportunity to serve God as a missionary. When we moved to France, living was a bit easier but the challenges of reaching people remained. But again, I never wished I had been directed by God to do something else.

One particular verse gives perspective to this subject. The Psalmist wrote (126:6), “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” It cannot be stated any clearer than that. Hard work and tears accompany the task, but if we are faithful a time of rejoicing with a harvest, great or small, will come. 

Lessons in the Games

Clint Morgan

Lessons in the Games

Paul, the student at the Bible institute in Côte d’Ivoire referred to in the previous blog, did play sports. As predicted, he was not the greatest player. But, he worked hard and became a pretty decent volleyball player. Soccer never did excite him, but he did not complain about playing. At times, I could sense he was mustering up every ounce of tolerance to play soccer. Again, he did not complain.

We came to the end of the first semester and sat down to debrief. Of course, the subject came up concerning the lessons learned by playing soccer and volleyball.

Paul was, and is, a perceptive person. When I asked what he had learned from playing sports, he presented a striking list.

·      As part of a group I must do what the group is assigned to do

·      Rules must be obeyed in the games

·      Referees have authority to apply the rules and discipline those who do not respect them

·      Players must respect those in authority

·      Rules are equal for every player

·      Encourage those who are not very competent

·      Be prepared to cover someone else’s task if they can’t (or don’t)

·      There are times when you simply have to do things you are not comfortable with

As we went through this impressive list of lessons learned, I was once again reminded of how similar life and ministry are to sports. As you look back over the list do you see the parallels?

The Bible presents us with an inspiring list of how we are to treat others. Many of the lessons learned from sports are really biblical principles lived out. When we apply biblical principles in life, things go much smoother and victories come more often.

Take a few minutes to read through these “one another” verses: John 13:34; Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12; Ephesians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Philippians 2:3; Galatians 5:13; Colossians 3:13-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 1 Peter 3:8;
James 5:16; Colossians 3:9
 

Photo credit: ©  | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Lessons Outside the Classroom

Clint Morgan

Lessons Outside the Classroom

In 1987, we opened our Bible institute in Côte d’Ivoire, Africa. The primary purpose was to follow the exhortation given in II Timothy 2:2: And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

Understandably, our main focus was training leaders who could train leaders who in turn would win souls, disciple believers, and plant churches. However, some lessons were not taught in the classroom.

A young man named Paul was in our first class at the institute. In all fairness, he was not what one might call athletic. But, one of the required activities at the institute was to participate in sports two afternoons each week. Paul wasted no time in coming into my office and pleading his case for getting out of this requirement. He had a great attitude, but he adamantly did not want to play volleyball and soccer. He offered to run two miles each sports day if he could be dismissed from participation.

I wasn’t trying to be hard headed, but I told him he was part of the class and was expected to participate just like the others. I told him we would have the same discussion at the end of the semester, and he could tell me why I insisted on his participation.

It has often been said, life is the only school in which the lesson comes after the test. This would prove true for Paul. Can you think of some life lessons one can learn from playing sports? 

Photo credit: Curt Holland

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