BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) – Evangelist and well-known speaker Wade Morris died Tuesday morning (Aug. 3) at age 51 after a battle with COVID-19 and pneumonia.
Morris, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, worked full time as a traveling evangelist, speaking at hundreds of youth events, conferences and camps each year, including many Southern Baptist-sponsored events such as Youth Evangelism Conferences and Oklahoma Baptists’ Falls Creek youth camp, where he spoke last month.
Morris’ last tweet, posted July 10, celebrated 457 professions of faith after a week of preaching at Falls Creek. Oklahoma senator and Southern Baptist James Lankford attended the event and can be seen photographed with Morris. Before entering politics, Lankford served as the director of Falls Creek.
Oklahoma Baptists released a statement Tuesday mourning the loss of Morris.
“We are heartbroken to learn of Wade Morris’ passing,” the statement said. “His speaking ministry in Oklahoma and across the country has forever impacted countless young people. Wade’s a faithful minister of the Gospel and a great friend to Oklahoma Baptists. We are praying for his family.”
Several well-known evangelicals expressed condolences to Morris’ family.
“Please pray for family & Friends of @WadeSpeaks who faithfully preached the Gospel and today stepped into God’s presence,” said Southern Baptist Convention President Ed Litton in a tweet Tuesday.
Speaker and author Clayton King called Morris “a dear friend” in a tweet, adding:
“Pray for his wife & children & the hundreds of thousands of people he reached & impacted through decades of preaching the gospel. He was one of a kind. Passionate. Generous. Faithful. Encouraging. I can’t believe it.”
In an interview with Baptist Press, Jason Britt, pastor of Bethlehem Church in Bethlehem, Ga., spoke highly of Morris’ faithfulness in ministry.
“He could draw a net like no other and was one of a kind,” said Britt, who served on the board of Wade Morris Ministries. “In a day and age when there aren’t as many evangelists, he was faithful to the end. What he preached on the stage, he lived off it.”
Chris Orr, executive pastor of worship and ministries at Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens, Ga., told Baptist Press Morris was often called the “barefoot preacher” due to his habit of removing his shoes during a sermon because he considered the place where he stood to be holy ground.
“Last year I was watching my daughter while Wade spoke,” Orr said. “She was leaning in and hanging on every word. I thought, ‘This is a guy the Lord has truly honored and given the ability to communicate the Gospel.’”
Morris, an avid runner who completed nearly 20 marathons, had been battling the virus and resulting pneumonia in the hospital since mid-July. Baptist Press was unable to confirm whether he had received the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This morning I grieved awhile after learning of Wade’s earthly death,” Orr said. “Now I’m thinking about how we can honor his legacy. We can keep going, moving forward. Wade was a runner and today he finished his race.”
Morris is survived by his wife Deborah and two daughters Eden and Trinity.
Scott Barkley, BP’s national correspondent, contributed to this report.