By CLINT FOSTER
For the past nine years, Head Athletic Trainer Cliff Payne has been a staple at Mineral Wells High School. But the sports medicine expert simply called “Doc” by his friends is ready to make a foray into a new career path, shifting from healing the bodies of students athletes to nurturing the souls of Mineral Wells.
After being called by God, Payne took a major step toward a career in full-time ministry this month and was officially ordained as a Baptist minister on Jan. 12.
“God knew before I was even born that this is what he had planned for me,” Payne said in his office at Ram Stadium with a Bible in his hand. “God calls it a ‘noble work,’ being called into the ministry. Of course, He tells us being a Christian is not easy. You have to go through suffering and fight through temptations. But the neat thing – and one of my favorite verses in the Bible – is in Jeremiah 29:11 and it says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ That’s the main thing, because I know this is all part of His plan.”
Payne has no doubt that God always intended for him to enter the ministry field, but his path to that career choice was not always a straight-forward one. He said it all began before he even realized it while his family was living in Red Oak for his first job out of college.
Although he had been saved at the age of 14, Payne said he strayed from his walk with Christ during college and when he married his wife, Darla, his spiritual life was not where it needed to be.