News Articles

Southern Baptist sailor taps LifeWay Sunday School lessons

ABOARD USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, EAST MEDITERANNEAN (BP)–It’s the typical day of worship for the majority of Americans in the United States. Parents work to wake their kids, get them dressed and in the car so they can be on time for church. The hectic pace for most families can sometimes lessen the impact Sunday School and morning Bible study can have. But not so for one teacher’s class.

In another time zone in another part of the world, Mike Mills is getting ready for the Sunday School class he teaches. It’s not very different from any other class — he sets out the chairs and the books. The only real difference is that his class, literally, floats on water.

Mills is the storekeeper chief on board the USS Harry S. Truman. He recently started the weekly Sunday afternoon class and chose to use the Family Life Series, published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. A Christian for more than 34 years and a Southern Baptist for just as long, Mills has a fond connection to the Nashville-based publishing company. His first pastor was James T. Draper Jr., the current president of LifeWay.

“Even though the material we’re using is a year old, it’s a comfort knowing that what we’re studying is the same as what my church back home [has been] studying,” Mills said.

Mills, his wife and their two children were members of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Chesapeake Bay, Va., which provided him with the Sunday School literature, one less expense for the Navy. Recently they’ve started attending Hickory Ridge Community Church, a new church that is in the process of building. Mills credits Emmanuel Baptist for giving him the training for teaching.

“I love teaching Sunday School — there’s no greater privilege than to be used by God,” said Mills, his eyes filling with tears and his voice choking up. “I think back during a time when I wasn’t following God. Back then, the thought that I could teach a class would never have crossed my mind. But to be able to teach God’s Word — the excitement, you can’t beat it.”

The class is only in its fourth week and has varied from one member the first week to six members last week. Today, there are three. Mills admits that part of his reason for teaching the class is a selfish one.

“It helps me more than anything else with my own study and prayer time,” he said. “I know that God is holding me accountable for this particular course just like he holds a pastor for leading the church. Even if no one showed up, I’m still going to be here.”

The Kansas City, Mo., native has spent 16 years in a Navy career. He sees the class as just another way to help sailors stay grounded when away from home. It’s easy, being by yourself, to walk away from everything including God.

Though he joined the Navy partly to pay honor to several uncles who served in wars — men he considers responsible for making the United States the country it is today — Mills sees his first job and calling as a Bible teacher.

“Like I told my boss when I first got here, the Lord sent me here to be a Bible study teacher,” Mills said. “I just happen also to be good at the job I do.”

God “expects us to do our finest and our best,” Mills said. “That’s what he expects — and that’s what I want to give.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: INSIGHTS TO IMPART and LIFEWAY RESOURCES.

    About the Author

  • Sara Horn