Weatherford Democrat

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May 26, 2013

A time to remember

At the age of 90, former North Side Baptist Church’s Joe Ray Griffin finally retires, and looks back on service to his country and his God


On a mission

While at Northside Baptist Church, Pastor Joe and Hazel Dean applied to the International Mission Board for foreign mission service. They were accepted as missionaries and assigned to the Kanto Plains Baptist Church, in Tokyo, Japan, where they served from 1982-88. During these six years, Brother Joe typed out his sermons and preached through an interpreter assigned to an English-speaking church. Pastor Joe never did learn the Japanese language, but over the years, the Japanese people were drawn to his preaching with a desire to hear English spoken. As a result, 65 Japanese came to faith in Christ Jesus.

This is really the “Rest of the Story.” The Japanese inflicted near-fatal injuries on Pastor Joe, yet God called him to minister and serve the people of Japan. It is this story of forgiveness that should not be left untold.

Pastor Joe completed 11 years of academic education in preparation for the ministry. He graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree. From Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary he received Master of Theology, Master of Education and Doctoral of Ministry degrees.

During his 41 years as a devoted pastor, Pastor Joe delivered 7,280 sermons and baptized 1,063 people.

Upon returning from Japan, Pastor Joe served three interim pastorates and taught at area high schools before accepting the position of chaplain and director of Pastoral Care at the Pflugerville Care Center in Pflugerville, Texas, where he served the last 10 years.

“Retirement” is not in Pastor Joe’s vocabulary. He continues to teach the Senior Adult Men’s Sunday School Bible Study, the Caleb class, at First Baptist Church in Round Rock.

Pastor Joe’s favorite words of wisdom: “To know God’s will – is man’s greatest knowledge. To do God’s will – is mans’ greatest achievement.”

For 71 years, Pastor Joe has used this knowledge to achieve God’s will and purpose.

There is no doubt in our minds that when the day comes, Pastor Joe and Hazel Dean will each hear the words:

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25: 21)

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