Struck By Lightning
Spreading Good News, Spring 2012
Tom Denton, Eastern Area Manager
"Lightning's here, Ann!" That's how Rev. M.E. Gibson would announce to his daughter that E.J. Hines had arrived to pick her up for a date back in 1959. The name stuck. E.J. and Ann were married that fall and shared an electrifying ministry together that lasted for over half a century.
Those of us who were privileged to know and serve with him quickly became aware of his enthusiasm, energy, and elocution. He was one of the most "electrifying" Baptists of our generation. E.J. Hines was a positive dreamer who moved with high-voltage spiritual speed to lead pastors and laypersons to ministries deemed impossible or improbable by others. After his death on November 17, 2010, Ann chose to write a tribute to him in manuscript form that carries the title of this article.
Following pastorates at Surf City Baptist Church and Calvary Baptist Church, Jacksonville, NC, E.J. was called to serve as the first Director of Missions for the New River Baptist Association. He served as the prophet and pastor at that post for forty-one years, being one of the longest serving associational missionaries in Southern Baptist Convention history. He helped to start new churches, minister to military families and internationals, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, train church staffs and laypersons, while displaying a zest for life and faith in Jesus Christ for all of his days.
When their only child, Stephen, tragically died while on a church outing on May 30, 2004, E.J. would write to his Baptist family across the state these words, "From the mountain coves to the beaches of the sea, Baptists did what they do best. You huddled around us, told us that you loved us and reminded us that God's grace was sufficient for all things. Yes, you became instruments of God's grace. You were ministering saints and angels of mercy."
Following Stephen's death, E.J. and Ann knew that they had to reevaluate and redesign their estate plan. I met with them on many occasions until both of them were satisfied about God's will. During that process E.J. was diagnosed with cancer. But prior to his death, we were able to get a Christian estate plan in place that reflected their Christian values and priorities. Through a series of charitable remainder trusts and the Elijah Jackson and Ann Gibson Hines Missions Endowment, their electrifying ministry together will continue through the local church, association, and world missions.
Ann concludes her book about her life with E.J. by quoting the Scottish poet, Thomas Campbell, in his poem, Hallowed Ground: "To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die." Eternal life and ministry to you, my brother! And may your lightning of love and grace continue to strike the hearts and minds of people until our Lord appears again in the Eastern Sky.