As I glanced out the front window and watched Jackson Willms and his care aide make their way up the...
RMCC’s Kids Church Pastor Hugh Morrow shares how the Word of God has transformed and changed his life in the following Q & A interview.
When did you lose your dad?
One night when I was six years old my dad’s two closest friends came over to our house and with one guy under each leg they carried my dad out the door and put him in their car. My father was a very big guy so there was a lot of ruckus and it woke me up. I remember standing in the hallway of our house watching this all take place. I don’t think anyone even noticed me. That was the last time I saw my dad.
Did you know what happened to your dad?
I knew they took him to the hospital because he had a type of cancer that affected him so he couldn’t walk. I don’t remember visiting him or going to his funeral. My brother told me it wasn’t a place for younger kids.
Did your mom remarry?
No, my dad was actually her second husband. Her first husband drowned in a canoeing accident. I have two older sisters and a much older brother from my mom’s first marriage.
Did your family attend church?
My mom attended the United Church and I remember going sometimes but I wouldn’t say we were bible believing Christians. Eventually we stopped going and it wasn’t until years later, after I became a Christian, that my mom told me she believed in Jesus.
How do you think the loss of your dad effected you?
Well, I didn’t grow up thinking – how come I don’t have a dad – it just seemed normal to me. My mom wasn’t one to dwell on the past and my siblings were older than me and so we never really talked about what happened. I remember that when I was standing in the hallway that night it was like watching a movie where I’m in the scene but I’m not really there. It just left me feeling helpless and empty.
When were you saved?
I went to bible camp with one of my sisters when I was in Grade 6 or 7. I responded to the altar call and gave my life to the Lord. I had done things that I was ashamed of and I wanted to be forgiven. It was very clear to me that if God Himself made the sacrifice, if He took my place, then the payment would work, the solution would work because He did it Himself.
Did your life change for the better?
Not really. Shortly after attending that camp I changed schools and my life became a continual swirling descent into nothing good. I just tried to avoid reality and responsibility and eventually I became very reclusive. Life to me was sleeping, smoking dope and getting high and well to be honest, looking at things Christians shouldn’t look at.
Was there a turning point in your life?
Yes, but things had to get really bad first. I came to the place where the only reason I left my mattress in the basement of my mom’s house was to go to work at the gas station so I could buy more marijuana. Sometimes I wondered if I wanted to keep on living. One day my older brother told me I had to move out because I was a drain on my mom. He told me I couldn’t live with him either and he said he didn’t think I could make it on the street; neither one of us knew where I could go. I was scared and God used that as a huge wake up call.
What did you do?
I called my sister Peggy, the one who had taken me to bible camp years earlier. She had a vibrant walk with the Lord and she and her husband were in Weyburn, Saskatchewan training to serve overseas with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Peggy’s brother-in-law drove me from Edmonton to Weyburn and he was so full of the Lord and poured so much love and encouragement into my life that by the time we got to Peggy’s place I was ready to re-dedicate my life to the Lord.
What kinds of changes took place in your life?
First, I got really honest with God and myself and He began to fill that emptiness in my soul. I suddenly didn’t want to do the things I used to do anymore. Prior to being in Weyburn I had tried to quit smoking and failed so many times I had given up. One day I felt God tell me me I could do it and I dropped my pack of cigarettes in the garbage and it was done! God made it clear to me that Spirit-filled living is real and possible and it’s fun too.
What happened after the summer?
A family that was close to my sister kind of adopted me and so I worked with them at a bible camp. When they offered to cover my costs for bible school, I signed up for a one year program and ended up staying for three years. Eventually I moved in with the family and did some high school upgrading in Regina and went on to attend a technical school. I then found a job in the printing industry.
What brought you to Calgary?
The company I was working for lost their biggest client and so I decided to come to Calgary. I found a basement suite and a job and tried to find a church but I felt very awkward visiting churches by myself. I soon began to slip into a bad place again where I just wanted to isolate myself but God is so gracious and once again He showed Himself to be very real.
How did the LORD reach you?
One day there was a knock on my door and I opened it to find two guys standing there – Glen Nudd and Gerald Willcox! It was like the sun flooded into my life again and these guys had no idea … this was honestly a lifeline, a real turning point for me.
How did you know them?
I had met Glen on a few occasions in Saskatchewan when he was visiting as a speaker at different church events. I knew Gerald really well having gone to bible school with him. They told me they were starting a church that was meeting at the University of Calgary and they needed a sound guy. It was a no brainer for me but I had to tell them there were some issues in my life that I couldn’t seem to shake. That didn’t bother them at all.
Is this where you met your wife Lana?
Yes, eventually, but I met Jason Caldwell first and he was the one who introduced me to Lana and gave me the push I needed to ask her out. He said something like, ‘You better not sleep on this … she’s not going to be around forever. You better do something!’
How did you get into kids ministry?
While I started in sound and enjoyed it, over time I was drawn to helping with the kids because of Pastor Quinn. He had a big impact on me because he expressed a lot of love for me and always saw things from the perspective of what God could do. It was just always so natural to assist him and get involved in what he was doing with the kids. At the same time Lana was getting involved in kids ministry too. It was quite a natural fit for both of us.
Did Pastor Quinn encourage you to become a pastor?
He didn’t ask me about it and never tried to push it. I know that he wanted me to decide myself. Now I understand why. We didn’t know that one day he would get sick and pass away and I would never want to think I became the kids church pastor just because Quinn passed away. I am so grateful for all the Lord did to confirm His calling through His word and the affirmation of other people including my instructors in bible college.
Is there a verse that describes your journey?
Yes, recently I was listening to Pastor Glen’s teaching from John 14 (sometimes we fall behind Sunday’s messages because we’re with the kids on Sunday mornings). The funny thing is I just picked a message kind of randomly one day and it was John 14:15-18.
Verse 18 records Jesus as saying, ‘I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.’
Pastor Glen pointed out it literally means, ‘I will not leave you fatherless.’ That really spoke to my heart. When my earthly father died I became fatherless, like an orphan, but God did not leave me fatherless. Amazingly His solution wasn’t to send someone to be with me as a companion, or even as a guide. He sent Himself as a person, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in me, to fill my emptiness.
How would you summarize your life journey?
Looking back now I can see that my emptiness was like a soul-shaped vacuum that I tried to fill with all kinds of destructive things. I know now that I was trying to get rid of that powerless, helpless feeling, something all of us have to deal with whether we have earthly fathers or not. We have to accept our powerlessness and helplessness and rather than trying to address those feelings ourselves we need to depend on God and acknowledge our need for Him.
He has filled my life in so many ways including the ministry He has given me, the opportunity to minister alongside my wife Lana and being blessed with two beautiful daughters. He has adopted me and become my Father forever and the greatest gift He has given me is Himself.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:14-17