Photo: Retired Major Allen Morris (known as the Texas Mule) with three adoptive grandchildren––Bobby, ChristiAna and Nanci just above the Arctic Circle.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. –– If you skim the resume of Allen Morris, you might assume that he has led a perfect life: An Eagle Scout who was twice selected as an Outstanding Young Man of America, and was president of his Methodist Youth Fellowship. A decorated veteran of multiple military actions from the Vietnam War through Operation Desert Storm, he went from the rank of private to major in the U.S. Army.
He received a baccalaureate degree from East Texas University in physics and math, a master’s degree from the University of Texas – and was active in extracurricular activities to include being elected to the Student Senate, the Scout fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, German Club, and being elected president of Alpha Gamma Alpha honorary math society. He held a position as an electronic communications engineer for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Houston and San Antonio.
An active church member Morris was elected a delegate to 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. He is the executive director of Concerned Methodists, and editor of The Christian Methodist Newsletter with a circulation in excess of 17,000 across the United States and in32 foreign countries. He has given his testimony “A Texas Mule” and spoken to churches and other groups of people, been on the radio, and appeared on television stations from the East Coast to Fairbanks, Alaska.
He is the author of 14 books, and has served as a volunteer youth counselor for over 200 youth; he has mentored up to 49 young people through two church groups, the Big Brothers program – and four in the Tarheel Challenge program that reaches out to troubled teenaged boys who are either on their way to a reformed life or prison.
That’s more than an impressive resume.
What that resume doesn’t tell is his tortuous journey that includes becoming an atheist, getting a divorce accompanied by a “black depression” and a plan to commit suicide, fearful trips through snake invested areas in Southeast Asia, multiple Scud missile attacks, nearly choking to death resulting in a near death experience, and helping his brother cope with an addiction to heroin and cocaine.
Morris traces his rebirth to his attendance at a 1985 Billy Graham crusade.
“I listened to Billy’s message and when he gave the invitation to accept Christ as my savior, I realized that I had never done so and this might be what was missing out of my life,” said Morris. “I was one of the first people to leave my seat in the top of the stadium and make my way to the area in front of the speaker’s stand. For the first time in my life, I publicly confessed that I was a sinner and wanted Christ as my personal savior.”
Since his conversion, Morris says his life has been completely different. He has had four close calls with death “But these were different from the times before I was a Christian,” he says. “In all of these last encounters, there has been nothing but perfect peace because I knew where I would be if I were killed. Having given my life to the Lord, I could have peace in whatever situation I found myself.”
In 1987, while serving in different assignments culminating at Bragg, N.C., Morris underwent 14 medical exams; each showed signs of a possible malignancy. During all of these tests, he still had that “peace that passes understanding” that the Apostle Paul had written about. However, when surgeons operated on him at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., there was no sign of cancer. Morris attributes that to the prayers of his friends.
He also tells about an experience during Operation Desert Storm when his men were laughing at what they thought was a false report of a Scud missile attack. “A few seconds later, we heard above us three loud explosions of the Patriot missiles impacting and taking out the Scuds. We stopped laughing and scrambled to put on our protective masks and chemical suits. The joke was on us after all. The Scuds were a few seconds from impact when they were blown up.”
“The thing is––during all of the operations, there was nothing but perfect peace inside. I just had inner peace about everything else that was going on and was able to do my part of the mission unhindered by paralyzing fear.”
Morris retired from the Army in 1991.
“The Army has been good to me, however, there is one thing I do miss––taking part in a mass tactical parachute jump. Even today, when I hear the sounds of the engines of a C-130 plane, my heart beats faster, and I think about hearing the jump commands, and parachuting out of the plane into the night.”
Morris says he has learned some painful lessons. Speaking of the time he considered suicide, “I realized the truth of what the Bible says about ‘hating divorce’ – that is not God’s will for married couples.” Then four years later, he nearly choked to death resulting in a near death experience. He writes, “I did not want to go into that ‘dark hole’ and tried with every particle of my being to not go in – but could do nothing. At that time I–– was a captain in the 82nd Airborne Division, received good pay, spoke four languages, had a master’s degree, owned land and my house, had a sports car; and dated a beautiful girl. All of these did not matter one bit; what mattered was that I was sliding into this place that caused me pure terror. Without Jesus, I had nothing.”
Since he became a Christian, he says the Bible serves as his life roadmap. “I saw my past life more clearly––and through reading the Bible had my problems mirrored back to me. I realized that I was the cause of most of my own problems before I became a Christian.
“If I could live my life over again, one thing I would do is slow down and take more time to talk to other people to learn more about them.”
Support for men’s ministry
Asked why he makes sacrificial gifts to men’s ministry, Morris said, “I believe in and appreciate what the United Methodist Men do, their ministry to the church, and how they reach out to boys. I have attended every one of their quadrennial meetings since 1997. It is great to fellowship with other spirit-filled Christian men from across the church. The money given to the United Methodist Men is money well spent. I would like to work my way up to giving a full tithe to just the United Methodist Men.” Morris, an Eagle Scout, said he is especially appreciative of the scouting program.
“I’m more than happy to put my money where my mouth is,” says the active church leader.
There are several levels of support for men’s ministry: EMS (every man shares in evangelism, mission and spiritual life) ($45 a year); Legacy Builders ($120 or more annually); and Circuit Riders (an annual gift of $1,500).