Cline R. Paden

On Wednesday, May 30, 2007, I attended the funeral of one of the truly great Christian leaders of our time, Cline R. Paden. 

He has been called a “modern-day Paul” and, from the beginning, that’s exactly how I saw him.  To be in his presence was awesome.  Here was a true missionary who had actually suffered for the cause of Christ! 

I first met Cline in 1965.  I had been recruited to attend Sunset International Bible Institute by Ed Wharton (who is still going strong teaching at Sunset and around the world).  I came with $90 a month support.  When I tried to tell him that I couldn’t live on that he insisted I come anyway.  Those of you who know Cline know what I mean when I say “insisted.” 

My late aunt Margaret who, when she found out I wanted to preach, offered to pay my tuition and expenses if I would attend a Christian College.  But after 5 years in university I had had enough.  Now I only wanted all the Bible I could get as fast as I could get it.  So, I asked her to help me at Sunset.  She refused.  Twice Cline called her (seemed like he spent an hour each time) and tried every ploy in the book to persuade her to change her mind.  She still refused.  It was the head-on collision of two very stubborn, determined and immovable people.  (Many years later my aunt apologized and admitted she had made a mistake…very rare for this highly intelligent and insightful lady.  Over the years she made some very generous contributions to our ministry.)  I eventually found enough support but I will never forget those phone calls. 

Once I needed to borrow $100 just to make it.  I had heard that there were emergency funds available and I nervously approached Cline to ask for the loan and, though I don’t remember what was said, I do remember how he immediately set me at ease. 

I remember his humor.  I remember the pranks he pulled on student and instructor alike.  I remember how he would invite me into his office out of the blue and run some idea or project by me or share a thought he was having about a sermon.  And he actually wanted to know what I thought…amazing!  I felt so important, so honored when he did that.  I think it was his way of giving us students a boost.

All those thoughts kept running through my head as I sat in the Sunset auditorium listening to those chosen to speak.  The mood was not of sadness but joy.  The room was full of victory.  Truly we who are in Christ Jesus do not mourn as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Brenda and I have been struggling in the past few months to stay true to the vision that drives our ministry in the face of several discouraging influences.  But as I listened again to the stories of this spiritual giant (he would not like that description) and how he never let the struggle destroy the vision my spirit was refreshed.  Cline Paden, though dead, is still speaking, still teaching.  My determination was renewed.  My commitment was buttressed.  

            In 1967 I left Lubbock transformed because of Cline Paden.  In 2007 I walked out of his funeral, once again, a changed man. 

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11 Comments

Filed under Missions/Evangelism, Preaching/Teaching, Whitsett News

11 responses to “Cline R. Paden

  1. George Carman

    Thanks for the reflections on your relationship with Cline. I, too, was impacted by him forever. I would definitely NOT be doing what I am doing if Cline had not stopped me from “quitting” and leaving Sunset while a student in 1966. I am forever in his debt. He was unique and special to our brotherhood and I know that many many students have similar stories of this great man of God. A man who always had time for the “little people” in the kingdom and a man who had a vision of sharing the Gospel with the world that is unparallaled in our generation. Wish I could have been at the funeral but I was serving Sunset in the nation of South Korea. That is something that I would not have been doing had it not been for Cline Paden.

  2. Truman Scott

    Dwight:

    Shortly before Cline’s passing to Glory, he spoke to me of his anticipated funeral. He wanted it to be brief, focused on the vision that drives us all and an encouragement to all to continue the quest of souls around the globe. It seems, from your comments, that at least one man gathered new resolve from having been a part of the celebration.

    The funeral both affirmed his long and rich life of service and restated the challenge he gave to every student and faculty member he ever recruited. The outcomes of his labor validated every appeal for support he ever mounted and every mile he traveled in quest of his vision of a world brought to Jesus.

    We all have been richly blessed and challenged mightily by the extraordinary life and ministry of one who never wanted to do anything bigger than just serve faithfully.

  3. Darlene Morris

    Dwight….you summed up my feelings so well. Larry and I came to Sunset in ’93 at Cline’s insistence. So many times during the past 14 years we have been encouraged and renewed by his examples….and even in death he spoke to us. I am so blessed to be walking in part of His Dream.

  4. Bob Chapman

    Dwight,
    Those days at Sunset were unique and this man of God was also unique.

    What could I add to what you have said…not much, but let me just thank you and our departed brother Mal Ashby for sending me there so I could also come away blessed, informed and off to a good start in the race of all races.

    Bob Chapman

  5. Kim Matthews

    Thank you Dwight,
    His impact on everyone was a bit different but still the same. He is like the yeast in the dough. He impacted a whole batch. We all have a bit of his yeast in all of us. Only the Lord knows his influence of salt and light on the nations of the world. Looking forward to a brown bag in heaven with the Lord and Cline. God bless you my friend.
    Kim

  6. Marilena Brigham

    I, unlike so many others, did not come to SSOP to go to school but to be a part of the “office team”. First as a part-time secretary, then to help in the Finance Office with Vera Boatwright. Then I quit….for a whole month and a half. Just like Cline has recruited so many students he came to recruit me to come back to SSOP as the bookkeeper. I told Cline I didn’t like bookkeeping, but he “insisted” that I come help them out just for a little while…that was 27 years ago.

    Cline has taught me so many things over the years, loved me when I didn’t think I should be loved, helped to entertain a son who came to the office with me after school by showing him new magic tricks, supported me through the rough times of a failed marraige, helped me to cope with the illness of my parents, gave me a sense of self-worth, shared with me his visions and dreams, and so much more. He led me by example. I will miss his wit as well as his wisdom, but I am forever grateful to the Lord for the memories and for bringing such a man into my life.

  7. dwhitsett

    Chris DuBose writes:
    Great Blog.
    I did not know Cline, well I only knew him as a child.
    My grandmother, Marge Smith was his secretary for several years.
    I can remember Cline taking me as a young child (four our five) and letting me sit at his desk and be a buisnessman.
    As I look back on that and remembering Cline holding my grandmothers hand as she was dying in hospitol as him being someone who really cared and valued people.
    What a special guy.
    Chris DuBose
    Tauranga,
    New Zealand

  8. Tim

    Thanks Wayne. I really wanted to attend the funeral but thought Cline would be somehow offended if I made the two day drive, leaving my mission field, to attend. (But I REALLY wanted to!) Thus, I’ve been waiting to hear from someone who was there. I wondered if it could have ever done justice to such a beautiful soul. If you were inspired, then it was the perfect reflection of Cline’s life.

  9. Tim

    Ha. Dwight, Wayne is mixture of Dwight and Whitsett, combined with all the pain you caused me while I was a mission student.

    Signed, your favorite student, Jim

  10. Great stories about Cline. When I went through SSOP in the late ’80’s he was still an inspiration. I have many memories, but my favorite was after I preached my senior sermon he came up and told me it was one of the best he’d heard (I’m sure he said this to all the seniors). The he challenged me to preach the very same lesson every year so I’d never forget to be evangelistic.

    He was a great man. I enjoyed being at his funeral service.

    Blessings brother.

  11. Royce Sartain

    Dwight,
    That was very impressive thoughts of the funeral. I wanted to be there in the worst way but could not make it. These days and your message reminded me again of walking into Cline’s office in December 1968 to “enroll” my brother in law and walking out enrolled myself.. overcome by Cline’s refusal to accept my excuses not to do so.

    So many memories flood my mind of meetings that I went on with Cline and traveling in other countries with him. The fun tricks he liked to play on those he loved. The “Cline Paden slept here” messages left on the pillow. The running around the church building getting his excitement up before he preached in a meeting etc.
    Sitting with he and Jo in the car all night at the Czech/Austrian border and so many other wonderful memories. Not to forget him announcing in chapel that three of us who were students would be moving to Luxenburgh and none of us had ever even heard of the place.
    No other inspired me as he did over these past 39 years.

    To top it all off my brother in law never went to school after all.

    Thanks for writing about our dearly beloved brother Cline.

    Royce

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