By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
Several years ago, when some friends in Montana invited Morris Hill and his wife, Barbara, to come up for a visit and check things out it “didn’t take a lot of arm twisting” for them to say yes.
“We’ve been going up to Wyoming and Montana over the last 12 years for vacation and really fell in love with the area and the culture,” Hill said.
‘Planted a seed’
But that trip to visit their friends — two couples serving as church planters in Big Sky Country — did something different.
“It kind of planted a seed in our hearts,” Hill said.
When they saw how God was stirring in the hearts of Montana’s people and how He was working through Chris Baker, former director of missions for Clarke Baptist Association, and his team, the Hills knew God was asking them to be open.
“We thought it was something we might be a part of at some point in our lives,” said Hill, who by then had been a bivocational pastor at Oak Grove Baptist Church, Coffeeville, in Clarke Association, for about a decade.
He held two other jobs — working for a pest control company and running a goat farm, something he and his wife slowly began to part with as they prayed about the future.
Sealing the deal
“The Lord began dealing with us that we needed to free ourselves up,” Hill said. “We had a little farm — we raised milk goats and made cheese and soap and had little homeschool groups come through and learn about that process.”
But when they felt God at work they started the process of selling off their animals. They paid off their mortgage and became debt free. And they didn’t stop there.
“We got rid of a lot of our farm implements all the way to the point of tearing down fences and selling the wire so we wouldn’t go back,” Hill said.
Then in October 2018 they returned to Montana to visit the Bakers and their other friends from Clarke Association, Darryl and Veronica Brunson. They spent time in the cities where the couples served and caught a vision for how they might be a part.
It sealed the deal. And when they called their son from the airport on the way home, he said, “Y’all don’t even have to say anything. I know you’re moving to Montana.”
The Hills had only been at their new church — Mount Vernon Baptist, Thomasville — for about a year when they felt like it was time to turn their attention to moving to Montana.
They’d witnessed God perform miracles there already. One woman whom Hill and his wife visited and invited to church started coming, and she — desperately in need of a kidney transplant — met a man there who would become her donor. The two of them would start a motorcycle ministry together and Hill wanted to join it too (see story here).
But they knew God was calling them to Montana, a place where the percentage of Christ followers is “miniscule.” They knew Hill needed to step down from the pastorate at Mount Vernon so they could start preparing, going through the sending process of the North American Mission Board and Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and raising support.
They’re aiming to leave Sept. 30.
‘Walk by faith’
“We have had to walk by faith,” Hill said.
Baker said he’s excited about the Hills coming to join their gospel work in Montana.
“The Hills will be another avenue into our community as they bring fresh eyes and ears to the north end of the Flathead Valley,” he said. “We are excited to have them because we see a deep love for Montanans.”
Baker has several ideas in mind for what the Hills will be doing, but most of all he’s thankful for the presence of more “seasoned believers who love Jesus and His church.”
“I saw as their associational missionary that they know how to care for and lead people to Jesus.”