Tuesday, 19 February 2019

My Friend Dr. Stanley Mitchell (8 June 1956 – 19 February 2019)

Stan the Man: Assistant Professor of Bible in the College of Biblical Studies at Freed-Hardeman University; educated at Abilene Christian University (BA, MA), Pepperdine University (MDiv), and Regent University (PhD). The son of long-term missionaries Loy and Donna Mitchell, Stan grew up in Zimbabwe and never lost his distinctive accent. As an adult, having served about nine years as a missionary in Zimbabwe, Stan preached for N. American congregations in California, Texas, and Tennessee, most recently the Red Walnut church in Bath Springs, TN. Stan would describe himself as a West Texan, a West Tennessean, and an African American. 

The Freed-Hardeman Years

Stan has taught Bible and missions at FHU since 2005. For the past several years I have been blessed to occupy the office next to his. Every day I have gotten to hear his infectious laugh, a wide variety of music, affectionate phone conversations with his daughter and grandkids, and not a few corny jokes. Stan was the one who kept photocopier paper stocked in our office suite, delivered the mail, turned out the lights and locked the doors (usually the last one to leave). His absence is being felt in many ways.

Every student who entered the foyer of the 2nd-floor GC Bible offices could expect to hear, “Chocolate? Have a chocolate.” It never failed to bring a smile. I would sometimes jokingly say this is why Stan’s office is the most popular, but we all know that’s not the reason. The hundreds of students who frequented Stan’s office left with so much more than confectionery. You’d be hard pressed to find a more approachable, compassionate, encouraging soul than Stan Mitchell, or a professor loved more by FHU students. 

Stan and I shared much in common, including what we considered to be a “sophisticated” sense of humor. We had numerous conversations about biblical doctrine, the current state and future of the Lord’s church, and missions methodology, almost always landing on the same page. About the only thing we disagreed on was tri-nations rugby, particularly with respect to Stan’s SA Springboks and my NZ All Blacks!

Memorable Stanisms

Stan was wise, witty, and funny, always having something clever to say. When asked how he was doing, his typical response was, “Better than I deserve.” Other memorable Stanisms include: “I’ve never lost a beauty contest.” “I don’t take bribes, but I do take coffee: black, no sugar.” “I only like two kinds of coffee: the kind I make, and the kind someone else makes.” At a local hamburger joint Stan asked the waitress, “Do you have anything with cholesterol?” To students taking a make-up test, Stan would say, “Unfortunately, this one doesn’t have the answers.”

Stan’s Loves

Stan loved the Lord, the Lord’s church, and the word of the Lord. This was most obvious in how he lived, how he spoke, and how he invested his time. He dedicated his life to the Lord’s service. 

Stan adored his beloved wife Marj, whom he affectionately referred to as “the tall redhead.” He dearly loved and was enormously proud of the other redhead in his life, his daughter Tracy. But if you really wanted to see his face light up, just ask about his grandkids, Gideon and Gwen. In fact, you didn’t have to ask. He was always ready to share the latest story, photo, or video. In one of the last articles he published, he mentioned his “two grandchildren” and their “sweet lives,” observing: “I pray they will grow to know their grandfather and his faith.”1

Stan also loved his siblings and extended family. He loved his students. He loved his job. He loved his brethren, both local and abroad. He loved to preach. He loved to sing. He loved to write. He authored four books and regularly contributed to brotherhood journals, including Forthright Magazine and their weekly “Reality Check” column <Link>. Since October 2016 Stan has posted weekly articles on his blog, Higher Grounds: Better Living Through Higher Thinking <Link>.2

Stan’s Destiny

Stan has often said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Earlier this year he reflected on that which survives physical death, viz. the soul, spirit, mind, conscience, heart, character, personality. Despite the transformation he has now undergone, I hope his personality hasn’t changed. He writes: “The part we cannot see, the eternal part, is that which we should feed, cultivate and develop. The paraplegic will not roll his wheel chair into heaven, he will be walking and leaping and praising God! No one will be warped and twisted by cancer or arthritis or aging. We will be eternal!”3

Concluding Thoughts

Stan Mitchell leaves behind a massive void that no one but God himself can fill. I’m thankful to have known him. I’m thankful for the impact he has made on this world. I’m sad but thankful he has gone to his eternal reward. About a year ago Stan posted five rules to happiness; the last one reads: “Cherish the people in your life; the day will come (perhaps quickly) when they will be gone.” My dear brother and friend, God bless you. Go with God.

--Kevin L. Moore

     Stan Mitchell, “Welcome Home,” in Higher Grounds (5 Feb. 2019), <Web>. Last year, before Gwen was born, Stan wrote a letter to his grandson and said, “Dear Gideon, I don’t know if you will grow up to be a preacher, president or policeman. But I do hope, I hope with all my heart, that you grow up to be a Christian, that you will stand tall for what God desires” (Stan Mitchell, “Dear Gideon,” in Higher Grounds [16 Oct. 2018], <Web>).
     Stan’s stated purpose for these articles “is to build God’s church by spreading its borders (encouraging missions), strengthening its members and reaching out to those who are searching for a good God and a loving savior.” His published books are: (1) The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: A Study of the Book of Proverbs, (2) Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, (3) Equipping the Saints for Ministry, and (4) Will Our Faith Have Children. Some of Stan’s audio sermons are available here. You can also listen to his “Life of Paul” podcasts here.
     Stan Mitchell, “What Happens to Us When We Die?,” in Higher Grounds (29 Jan. 2019), <Web>.

Related articles: Ryan Fraser's We've lost a friend, Tracy Watt's A God We Can Trust

Image credit: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2077827418937444&set=t.150801812&type=3&theater


  1. Wonderfully said, dear friend.

  2. Beautiful tribute.

  3. Kevin, thank you for your words of wisdom. I did not know Stan as well as others. I met him and talked with him one or two times. Not knowing him better was my loss. To say he was a good man seems so inadequate. God bless you for the work you do for the Kingdom.

  4. Thanks for this very good tribute.

  5. So well said! I heard his voice as I read his Stanisms. He is a blessing to many!