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N.C. pastor, NAMB director Marcus Redding dies from cancer

LINCOLNTON, N.C. (BP) – Throughout his life, Marcus Redding didn’t have many hobbies.

“He didn’t golf, he didn’t hunt, he didn’t do whatever,” according to Redding’s wife, Chrissie. “He just wanted to be with family and talk about Jesus to anybody. He was a very happy soul.”

And surrounded by family and talking about Jesus is how Marcus Redding lived out his final days on earth. Redding, a longtime pastor and ministry leader in North Carolina, died Thursday (May 30) after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 58.

During his ministry, Redding pastored churches in the Piedmont and foothills regions of North Carolina just west of Charlotte and served as a statewide and national denominational leader in Baptist life. He also served as a church planting catalyst in Maryland.

“He just had the biggest servant’s heart I’ve ever seen in anybody,” Chrissie said. “It was always about whomever else. It was never about him. He just always wanted to make sure everyone else was good and say whatever and do whatever to make that happen.”

Other ministry leaders across North Carolina shared similar sentiments about Redding. They remembered him as a humble servant leader who loved Jesus, loved others and loved working with churches to help them reach the lost. They said Redding was a friend to anyone who knew him.

“I’ve only known Marcus for about three years, but it feels like I’ve known him all my life,” said Roy Smith, a longtime associational missionary in North Carolina who now works with the state convention to develop partnerships with local Baptist associations. “Marcus had a heart for the lost, a heart for making disciples, a heart for pastors, and he always wanted to help. He would sacrifice himself in order to help ministers and missionaries.”

Current N.C. Baptist Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Unzicker said Redding represented exemplary leadership.

“Marcus always displayed the best of N.C. Baptist leadership with his unstoppable commitment to multiplication and always demonstrating a great joy in the Lord,” Unzicker said. “The faith that he desired all churches to proclaim is now sight.”

The majority of Redding’s ministry was based in his home state of North Carolina. Redding pastored three N.C. Baptist churches at various times – Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Rutherfordton, Hulls Grove Baptist Church in Vale and Salem Baptist Church in Lincolnton. He also served a stint on the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s board of directors and later served as a contract worker with the state convention.

“Marcus had a great heart for evangelism and a glowing witness for Christ,” said former N.C. Baptist Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. “He had such a heart for the Lord and for reaching people who needed to come into a relationship with Christ. He was a very effective board member during my tenure as EDT. He was a great listener who also had creative ideas to share. He was a very humble person who strived to work in harmony with others. He was loved, respected and appreciated by so many people.”

Redding remained active in N.C. Baptist life, even after accepting a ministry position with the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

Over the past seven years, Redding has served as NAMB’s director of supporting churches. While remaining based in North Carolina, Redding’s role with NAMB involved working with churches across North America. His work focused on equipping churches with resources and tools to help them discover and develop church planting teams from within their church.

In an email to employees about Redding’s death, NAMB President Kevin Ezell shared details about a recent visit with the Reddings.

“I had the opportunity to visit with Marcus and Chrissie two weeks ago and was amazed at their positive outlook, even while facing such a serious illness,” Ezell wrote. “Marcus and Chrissie both placed their hope and assurance in Christ. Marcus never got over the joy of his salvation and what an incredible gift God has given us through His Son. He loved helping churches become more involved in partnering with new church plants. We will profoundly miss him, but I am grateful that today he is celebrating in Heaven with our Savior.”

Chrissie Redding said her husband battled cancer to the end with grace and dignity, even when others would question why or say his illness wasn’t fair.

“Anytime he talked to anybody, it was pointing them back to God,” Chrissie said.

After all, the Reddings have experienced God’s comfort and grace before in the midst of hardship, pain and loss before.

In 2007, the Reddings’ then 16-year-old daughter, Sadie, was killed in a car accident while on her way to school.

Shortly thereafter, the Reddings discovered that a week before her death, Sadie had written in her journal that her greatest desire was for everyone in her school to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A week later, Marcus Redding preached the Gospel to Sadie’s classmates during a memorial service for her.

“Marcus’ mother said that since they lost their daughter that Marcus has been living with one foot in heaven ever since then,” said Keith Hollar, who serves as associational mission strategist with the South Fork Baptist Association in Lincolnton and is also Redding’s brother-in-law. “He’s always had an evangelistic lifestyle, but since that time he’s always been very heavenly minded, not only about how you’re supposed to live, but also about getting other people to realize how real it is and important it is to make that decision (for Christ.)”

Chrissie Redding said her husband began feeling ill around the beginning of this year. They initially attributed the issues to chronic heartburn, but they soon sought a medical opinion after Marcus’ symptoms worsened. Subsequent testing led to Marcus’ pancreatic cancer diagnosis Feb. 1, and he didn’t leave the hospital until early March.

During that time, the Reddings learned that Marcus’ cancer had spread to his digestive system which resulted in surgery so he could retain food. When Marcus didn’t respond well to chemo treatments, the Reddings knew that Marcus’ earthly race was nearing its end.

“We kind of knew from the beginning in our hearts that this was where we were going to be,” Chrissie said. “So we had an urgency to be very intentional with our time together.”

The Redding family filled their final three months with Marcus by spending as much time as they could together. During that time, Marcus, Chrissie their children and grandchildren took a beach trip to Oak Island in mid-April that coincided with the Reddings’ 37th wedding anniversary. 

The Redding family continued to spend as much time as they could together, right up until Marcus’ final hours. In some of the final words he spoke to his family, Marcus reflected about the love of Jesus and what he hoped would be experienced at his funeral and remembered in the days ahead.

“Whoever is in that room, I hope will experience just the majesty and simplicity that He just loves us,” Marcus Redding said. “It’s one thing to say a human being loves us, but the Holy One loves us. So my family loves me, but what’s so profound is that He tailor made y’all, and it’s insane that He did all that. Nobody could have done that except our good and gracious King.

“I don’t know what it’s going to feel like in the next 24 hours, but I want y’all to feel total freedom that you already have everything you need to magnify Him because He lives in you. Think of the times in our life when we were trying to bring a special moment, and we’re in one. I mean, we’re in the middle of a special moment because He’s here. When I think about all the things that God let me be a part of, if God has used me to show you things or set an example, then just run with it.”

Redding’s family recorded him saying those things to them on Monday, less than 72 hours before he went home to be with the Lord. Chrissie Redding said those were the kinds of things her husband would share with anyone.

“His focus remained on wanting others to see Christ through him,” Chrissie said. “Even in his final days, it wasn’t about him.”

Marcus Redding was born in Gaston County on Dec. 2, 1965. He is survived by his parents, Robert Herman and Elizabeth Anne Helms Redding; his wife, Chrissie; two sons and daughters-in-law, Seth and Chelsea Redding and Samuel and Alexia Redding; two grandchildren; and two sisters and brothers-in-law, Lois and Keith Hollar and Linda and Harry Shelton.

In addition to his daughter, Sadie, Redding was preceded in death by a brother, Jeffrey.

The family will receive friends on Saturday, June 1, from 3-6 p.m. at Hulls Grove Baptist Church in Vale.

A funeral service will be held on Sunday, June 2, at 3 p.m. at Hulls Grove Baptist Church with the Revs. Chad Childress, Mike Devine and Bobby Farmer officiating.

Childress serves as senior director of planter development at NAMB and worked closely with Redding. Devine serves as pastor of Covenant Bible Church in Lincolnton. Farmer serves as associate pastor at Hulls Grove Baptist Church.

Burial will follow the service in the church cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to NAMB’s Send Network to further church planting in North America. Gifts may be made online by visiting www.anniearmstrong.com.

Stamey-Tysinger Funeral Home & Cremation Center in Fallston is assisting the Redding family with funeral arrangements.

This article originally appeared in the Biblical Recorder.