5. Malone Cochran, Pastor
Pastor Malone Cochran invited me to serve on his staff of 7 pastors in December 1986. I was 22 years old and searching and believing God to use me in a significant way in ministry. Malone gave me opportunities to see how a large church operates effectively. The church had over 600 people in attendance and a private school with over 300 students. He had been the pastor for 12 years. It was there that I saw my first computer, and its’ hard-drive filled a large room. He was using it effectively to help manage ministry.
I had only been on staff for a few months when he took me to lunch and said, “I’ve been praying for the right person to lead this ministry when I retire, and I believe you are that person!” It was an overwhelming moment for me. He believed he would retire in about 10-12 years. However, just a year later he informed me he was going to retire early…like “this Sunday, and I want to recommend you as the pastor”. During the week before, two significant things had taken place. I turned 24 years old and on one particular night God kept me awake as I prayed literally all night, completely confident God was about to do something big in my life; but I had no idea what that was. God was preparing me to accept this new opportunity/responsibility instead of running from it. The church first called me as their interim pastor for a few months and in September 1988 they unanimously called me as their pastor. I served there for another 8 and half years before coming to Midway Church, June 1996.
Malone saw potential in me, believed in me, and treated me with respect, though I was less than half his age.
Malone was a visionary and a pioneer in using technology in ministry.
Malone talked straight to me about life, ministry, my weaknesses, and strengths.
Malone risked his own long-term credibility to propel me into major opportunity.
He passed away several years and I was called back to participate in honoring him at his funeral service. His influence remains in my life in more ways than I can comment. I’m thankful!
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