By Whitney Knight
Cliff Sanders grew up in a strong, Christian family and was raised in those beliefs his whole life. Sanders grew up with his father pastoring and changing lives in churches from New Mexico to Florida.
Cliff’s father, Marvin, was often thought of as the rock of their family. When growing up, Marvin wished to pursue a career in preaching and sharing God’s Word, but his family did not. His family encouraged him to stay in his blue-collar job. Yet, Marvin prayed a lot and then went through with it anyways. Years later, seeing his own two sons pursuing the same career delighted him.
With this strong example of Godly love, Cliff and his brother, Michael, decided to pursue the same career. They both attended Gulf Coast Bible College, now known as Mid-America Christian University.
“Dad was proud that his boys served in ministry and that they were trained for it,” said Cliff Sanders. They both worked their way through college to be able to continue
learning and sharing God’s Word. Twenty-nine years later, Cliff Sanders was able to have a full circle moment by returning to his alma mater, this time as part of the faculty. In nearly thirty years as a professor at MACU, he has touched countless lives by teaching future generations of pastors, worship leaders and everything in between.
One of those lives is Peyton Kirkpatrick, a sophomore majoring in Ministry Leadership who has taken several of Sanders’ classes.
“Learning from Cliff has been one of the highlights of my time at MACU. In the classroom, I have benefited from his extensive work in inductive Bible study, where he’s taught me how to dive into God’s Word and make practical applications.
Kirkpatrick said as a mentor, Cliff has shown him his most important calling: a call to fellowship with Jesus Christ, rooted in 1 Corinthians 1:9. “Cliff’s leadership has challenged me to remember that my value is not found in my performance but rather that I am a human ‘being’ before a human ‘doing,’” Kirkpatrick said. “I am so thankful for the opportunity to laugh, learn and grow under the leadership of Cliff Sanders — he has truly changed my life.”
Cliff Sanders holds his beliefs near and dear to his heart, and he funnels that passion right into the classroom.
“I’m a firm believer in Christian institutions as a place for discipleship, not protection and isolation from what’s going on in the world. College is about more than just academics. It is a time when young men and women begin to make lifelong decisions about their futures and their morals.”
This year, after serving the MACU campus for 29 years as a professor and Chair for the School of Ministry, Cliff Sanders left MACU this summer to accept a newly-created position at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City. There, he will continue to train church leaders, publish books and develop curriculum through the School for Wesleyan Studies.
His brother, Michael Sanders, will take over his role as part of the ministry faculty and will continue their proud family legacy.
“College is truly an important time for any student’s life,” said Cliff Sanders. “I count myself blessed to have been able to be there for my students and help guide them along the path God has chosen for them.”