Citronelle church planters see Shalom Baptist continue to growcomment (0)
July 18, 2013
By Taylor Hamm
There’s nothing we can do,” a doctor informed Bobby Morton of his wife’s condition. “You can just go home, and we’ll let you know when she passes.”
Morton’s wife, Mary, suffered a heart attack in 2003 during the time he was preparing for a missions trip to Brazil. After a complete body crash, blood clots and paralysis taking over her body, Mary Morton was moved to a room the following day where she began to miraculously start her recovery process.
This was a turning point in the ministry of Bobby Morton, pastor of Shalom Baptist Church, Citronelle. The Mortons have always been firm believers in the power of prayer, and evidence of this came in the fragile times of Mary Morton’s life, as well as the planting of their church from the ground up.
Bobby Morton was called into the ministry at age 16 but did not surrender completely until his late 30s. He served as a pastor in various locations in Mississippi and Alabama, and he taught pastors and leaders in a number of different parts of the world. He also served on staff with Mobile Baptist Association for several years, directing the International Ministry Center and Camp Whispering Pines.
After being involved in a local church for years and with their roots in the community, the Mortons were approached about starting a new church in the area. They wanted their church to be completely Bible-based, with God paving the way for their ministry, they said.
At first, they began having prayer meetings in homes, which then led them to meet in a local church’s fellowship hall. The Mortons and several other people prayed for years for God to open the door to provide them with land to build their own building.
The Mortons were able to obtain more than five acres to start building their church and broke ground in January 2006, with their first service on Easter the same year. From 15 people meeting in a small tent at the first service, the church has grown to a congregation of 175 members meeting in the building the Mortons built completely on their own.
“All in all, we’re blessed and I’m humbled,” Mary Morton said in tears, reminiscing about how prayer has helped her heal, obliterating her paralysis completely, and how prayer led them on the path to develop their church. “All of this helps us remember the significance of prayer and encouraging others.”
Given Bobby Morton’s background working with internationals and his wife’s background in education and counseling, their ministry at Shalom has been unique and productive since the church’s beginning. He said they always seek God’s direction in every step of ministry, always having an evangelistic missions in mind when they do things and welcoming everyone regardless of their backgrounds.
“We have people from all walks of life here — business people, educated and uneducated people, senior adults and youth,” he said. “We minister to the whole community, go to any home, and they see how much we care.”
With more than 3,500 people in the area and 90 percent being unchurched, the Mortons have had some difficult times but still have seen God work continuously throughout Shalom’s journey.
Bobby Morton explained that the church is unique in the fact that the congregation is made up of all ages. In addition, there are several nationalities present. The church is located in a Native American community with a reservation nearby.
The Mortons see the reservation as an opportunity to show the love of Christ, holding Bible clubs there as well as sports camps that include hunting, fishing and wrestling. These projects, along with other activities the church organizes, have led to many decisions for Christ.
Each year, the Mortons have seen 15–20 decisions for Christ made through the Lord’s work in their church. The couple caters to what the congregation wants to do in activities, organizing events through each age group, ensuring that every person is comfortable at the church. Bobby Morton said that Shalom’s mission is to be a light in the darkness, and he hopes the impact becomes greater as years go by, even when he and his wife are no longer there.
“Shalom means peace, and that’s one of the things this area needs — the peace of the Lord,” he said. “We just seek to follow His will, deal with discouraging moments and keep striving for Him, and He comes through every time.”