VIDALIA — Titles often don’t describe a person’s entire contribution. So much more goes into it their efforts.
Take Don Moye for instance. During nearly 44 years of ministry at First Baptist Church here, he’s held the positions of music and youth minister, then executive associate pastor.
All those roles reach distinct areas of service. But, there’s a common overlap that started way back when Don was a college student. It took him to Florida before he and his (very) new wife moved to Vidalia. From there they began over four decades of mentorship and ministry continuing today, despite Moye’s retirement from the church Jan. 6.
A number only known in Heaven
“I was looking for someone to invest in me and disciple me,” Moye speaks of that time just after graduating from Oklahoma Baptist University and joining Reach Out Ministries in Winter Park, FL. Working in a security guard in college led him to Barry St. Clair, who arrived on the OBU campus for the Home Mission Board looking to recruit interns for establishing youth discipleship programs.
While on guard duty, Moye guided St. Clair to where the latter was to meet with students. Only, no one showed; it was just St. Clair and Moye.
No worry. It ended up establishing the simple discipleship pattern Moye continues to this day. Discipleship begins with two individuals. One wants to teach. The other wants to learn.
“Four words come to mind when I think of Don and Glenda,” St. Clair said via video at Moye’s retirement celebration. “Love, faithfulness, consistency, and discipleship.”
“The influence of Don and Glenda on people is countless,” he continued. “The number of people they’ve invested in … will only be known in Heaven.”
For a year Moye learned under St. Clair in Winter Park. Then, he worked at another church for a year to establish a youth discipleship program. After that, he trained someone else to do it. Moye would continue that basic discipleship plan, one he says is mapped out pretty clearly by Jesus with His own disciples.
I do it.
I do it; you’re with me.
You do it; I’m with you.
You do it; I’m in the background to encourage.
A hand in all aspects of ministry
Ten days after Moye, an Illinois native, married his wife Glenda, an Oklahoma girl, the two began their service in South Georgia at First Baptist Vidalia. Moye joined the staff as as minister of music and youth.
“I had a passion for discipling young people,” he says.
After 16 years he transitioned fully to the music side of his position, staying there 16 more. For the remaining time in his tenure Moye served as executive associate pastor. In that position he oversaw administrative responsibilities for the church and, even though it wasn’t part of the job description, wrapped himself in senior adult ministry.
“Even though senior adult ministry wasn’t part of my responsibilities, I developed a love for that and took it on,” he reflects. He and Glenda have been instrumental in developing the church’s SWAT (Seniors With A Testimony) ministry during that time.
Over the years Moye has taken on other leadership positions. In particular, he’s been very active in Daniell Baptist Association and as a chaplain for Meadows Regional Medical Center. Additionally, he’s been part of the Vidalia Community Chorus and for many years been part of the Sons of Jubal, with whom he’ll be taking a mission trip to Great Britain next week.
“Whether it was an action done in front of hundreds of people or only known by you and the individual, you’ve been faithful to embody every work as a priestly administration and God has been present in all of it,” Jon Duncan, Georgia Baptist state missionary in Worship and Music Ministries and Sons of Jubal director, noted in a recorded message Jan. 6.
Discipleship over the years
The basics of discipleship calls for a life that reflects Christ. That means living in such a way throughout the week, not just Sundays. Nothing brought this result better than the times college students would take up a bedroom in the Moye home for a summer or longer.
“That was some of the most effective discipleship I think I ever did,” says Moye. “About three of them were married couples and lived somewhere else, but others stayed in our home.”
That arrangement became more difficult, and then untenebale, as the number of Moye children grew to seven.
“We ran out of bedrooms,” Don laughs.
The basics of discipleship remain and work no matter the age of the participants, he asserts.
“Jesus ministered to others and had his followers watch Him. Then, they did it with others while He watched.”
It’s a process of modeling and showing someone the way, he added, and begins with talking to others. “You have to go fishing, search for the lost sheep. Evangelism is a big part of discipleship.”
Discipleship might be a little more difficult today, he admits. More things clamor for our attention, our time. “But God always raises up people who are hungry to know more,” he says.
Recently, the minister who began discipling youth before leading music and then teaching senior adults has come back to his beginning. A couple of months ago Billy Puckett, director of Daniell Baptist Association and a professor at Brewton-Parker College, asked Moye if he’d be interesting in discipling some BPC students.
For Moye it’s not only been a rejuvenation, but a confirmation on his calling decades ago.
“These students are preparing to take on some music ministry positions. It’s been very refreshing. I enjoy it and it reminds me of my earlier days.
“You’d hate to have all this experience and not do something with it,” he reflects. “I never considered ‘retirement’ at all. I figured I’d pour myself into others forever.”