OWASSO, Okla. (BP) – There’s something different about guys who run toward the fire.
Harrison Moseby was one of those guys. His dad, Jim, was a firefighter for the city of Tulsa. So were his grandfather and brothers. When Moseby was a student at Tulsa Community College, he started dating Mallory Burd. Her father, Bryan, and brothers were also firefighters.
Moseby had worked in other areas, starting a lawncare business with his brothers and ranching. But his growing family led him to want more stability. It led to a calling more in vibe with who he was as a person.
“Harrison loved it and the brotherhood that came with the firehouse,” said his pastor, Chris Wall of First Baptist Church. “He and Mallory were your typical young couple, loving Jesus and being plugged in to the church and serving the Lord and their community.”
Harrison Moseby died at approximately 2 a.m. on Jan. 22, nearly two years after being diagnosed with a rare form of soft tissue cancer. And though his earthly life was relatively short, in consisted of keeping others out of the fire.
His battle with cancer, and the faith that sustained him, became well-known in the Tulsa area.
Power in difficulty
“Harrison was a young man that the whole community watched,” said Wall. “God gave him power in the midst of the difficulty, and he modeled that. Like John the Baptist and Stephen, God gave Harrison power in the moment.”
Harrison and Mallory both grew up attending First Baptist, but their families went to different services – hers in the first and his in the second.
Wall, who officiated their wedding in October 2020, remembers Moseby being a man of action even as a teenager.
“We have a ‘My One’ emphasis at church where if you have a friend who doesn’t know Christ, you could invite them to camp and we’ll pay their way,” he said. “Harrison brought a young man named Spencer Richmond, who was his best friend. Spencer got saved at our camp at Falls Creek, with Harrison leading him to the Lord.”
That happened when the two were in middle school. The Richmond family would end up joining First Baptist. Moseby later led Spencer’s sister to Christ as well.
Tragedy struck on Spencer’s 16th birthday, though, as a car accident left him with a traumatic brain injury. He died a year and a half later.
“Harrison helped me preach most of the funeral,” Wall said. “He was the most articulate voice on the stage that day.
“When a teenager dies, it’s a shock to that community. He was a senior in high school, but Harrison was an anointed man of God in delivering the Gospel.”
A young man ‘who walked with God’
One day Harrison was being treated at a St. Louis hospital with the couple’s older daughter, Collins, when the decision was made to move treatment to MD Anderson, the renowned cancer research hospital in Houston.
Mallory wasn’t there because she was in the hospital as well, though in Owasso delivering the couple’s second daughter, Gracelee. As soon as she was able, she left with their newborn for Houston.
Steps in the battle included amputating Moseby’s left arm, shoulder, collarbone and two ribs. The cancer progressed, however, with his declining physical state communicated to Moseby’s church family on the same day North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell was the guest preacher.
“I’d never met Kevin before, but he started ministering to me as a pastor,” Wall said. “He kept checking in with me on how Harrison was doing and when we realized Harrison couldn’t be a firefighter anymore, Kevin helped us get set up with some seminary classes at Midwestern.”
Midwestern President Jason Allen was also instrumental in Moseby’s attending MBTS, Wall said. Allen presented Moseby with a Presidential Award of Merit last fall.
Ezell had one other idea – to make Moseby an honorary NAMB chaplain. The ceremony was held at the fire station Dec. 13. Doug Carver, retired U.S. Army Major General and executive director of NAMB’s Chaplaincy team, attended.
“We had this moment at Harrison’s firehouse,” said Wall, who spoke with local news after Moseby’s death. “Guys were hearing about Jesus and turning to the Lord because of this young man who walked with God.”
And yet, there were times when questions surfaced that anyone would have.
“Why would God give me these two precious girls and not have the opportunity to raise them?” he asked Wall one time while at MD Anderson for treatment.
“I told him that was a good question and a tough one, but that his relationship with his daughters is going to extend into eternity,” Wall said.
On icy streets through Owasso in the predawn hours Monday morning, a series of vehicles from the Tulsa Fire Department crept along, escorting the one carrying Harrison Moseby’s body.
They were Engine 24 (Moseby’s engine), Car 601 (Honor Guard) and Car 542 (Tulsa Firefighters Local 176 President Matt Lay). It’s not without precedent for such a step to be taken, but not common, either.
A viewing and guided open mic share time will be at First Baptist on Jan. 30 at 7 p.m., with the funeral the next day.
“As a pastor, you come to a church hoping God will use you to help people walk with Jesus. Then you walk with a couple like Harrison and Mallory who show you what that looks like,” said Wall.
Wall spent many hours with Moseby, recording audio for family and his little girls to hear in the years to come. He wanted his daughters to grow up knowing Christ. He wanted Mallory to fall in love and be happy again, find a man to build on the foundation Moseby had worked hard to establish.
“I don’t want my life to be for nothing,” he told Wall. “I’ve experienced a lot of things – building a lawn business with my brothers, working on a ranch, being a fireman. All of it was a blast.
“God blessed me. I’ve had a great life.”