|CRESWELL, Ore. (BP) -- Sam Morgan calls himself a "boots and blue jeans type of person," but last year he realized he needed a new suit.
Since moving from the Bible Belt in 1991 to become pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Creswell, Ore., Morgan had heard about the Mississippi Baptist Convention's men's ministry sending new suits to pastors in new work areas.
"The offer had come many times over the years," Morgan said. "I've always declined. I've always thought somebody else could use it. This time I thought I really could use a suit, so I accepted."
He completed an application, filling in his height, weight, suit size, waist, inseam length and chest measurement. He sent it in by the Aug. 31, 2012, deadline.
A couple of months later in Mississippi, George and Ann Underwood first heard of the suit ministry when they attended their state convention as messengers from First Baptist Church in Coldwater. They picked up brochures at the men's ministry booth and shared the information with their Sunday School class when they returned home.
"The class was excited about the project and decided overwhelmingly to send a gift," Underwood said.
The collection that morning reached $200 quickly, and then something amazing happened.
"A class member named Russell said that something had prompted him to carry extra money to class that day even though he did not know why. Without further explanation he reached into his pocket and produced two $100 bills, which immediately doubled the gift," Underwood recounted.
George, assistant teacher of the class, and Ann, class treasurer, sent the $400 to the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board in early November.
In December the Underwoods contacted Deanna Vail with the Mississippi convention's men's ministry to ask how they could contact the recipient of their suit in order to pray for him, his family and his ministry. They were told the suit went to an Oregon pastor named Sam Morgan.
Meanwhile, Morgan received his new suit, along with a $125 gift card for his wife Janis and a check for $150. He also contacted Vail, wanting to know whom he could thank. He was told the suit came from a Sunday School class at First Baptist Church in Coldwater.
Morgan was silent. He asked Vail to repeat the name of the church. For clarification, he asked exactly where that church was, what county and association it was in. As she answered his questions, Morgan could hardly believe what he was hearing.
"That's our home church," Morgan said. "That's where we surrendered to ministry."
Morgan had been working for the phone company in Senatobia, Miss., and living in nearby Coldwater. He was 29, married and had two children. They wanted to get the children into church, so they began attending First Baptist. Soon, Sam and Janis were saved and began serving in the church.
"I struggled with God's call for three years, then surrendered," Morgan said.
A key factor in hearing God's call was when Morgan went on an associational mission trip in 1981 to Billings, Mont., to do construction work. In the summer of 1982, he and Janis made public their call to missions at First Baptist Coldwater. The church ordained him the next year.
"We thought it would be foreign missions," Morgan said, "but I didn't have college or seminary. I also needed three years of pastoral experience to go as a missionary with the Foreign Mission Board ."
Morgan gave notice to the phone company in August 1983, sold his home and moved to Blue Mountain College to start his "race against the clock," trying to fulfill requirements for becoming a missionary before his oldest child turned 13, another mission board restriction.
Meanwhile, a country church called Morgan as pastor and he told them he could only stay three years because he was preparing for international missions.
"They were glad because no one else had stayed more than one year," he said.
After finishing college and a few semesters of seminary, Morgan realized he was not going to complete his master of divinity in time to go as an international missionary. He and Janis began exploring pioneer missions areas in the United States.
In 1991 he was called as fulltime pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Creswell, Ore. He has completed 21 years as their pastor.
"The first time I walked into the sanctuary, I knew that was where we were supposed to be," Morgan said.
He and Janis and their four children moved to Oregon. Continued...