The Life and Times of Mr. Mike
I was born in Oklahoma City, OK “a while” ago, the oldest of 4 children born to L. G. and Ruth Beard. I’d like to tell how Dad and Mom met, fell in love, and were married.
In the spring of 1944, Dad and Mom – unknown to each other – both lived in Oklahoma City. Mom actually had a crush on Dad’s older brother, Uncle Larry. Dad was just this tag-along kid that Mom hardly noticed. But Dad noticed her. Just before Dad, who had enlisted in the Army, shipped off for boot camp, he asked “Ruthie” for permission to write her, to which she agreed. Thus it started. For the next two years, Dad and Mom wrote letters to each other, and during this time, they fell in love. As soon as Dad, who served 511 days in combat in World War II, in North Africa and Italy, came back, they were “re-united,” exchanged their promises, and were married, a few months later. Dad was so proud of his service – as were we – and he often joked that he had single-handedly whipped the Germans…he and some guy named Patton.
It was during this time that I gave my heart to Jesus. Dad and Mom were both devoted followers of Jesus Christ, and from my earliest memories, we were “in church.” What a blessed privilege to have grown up in a Christ-honoring home! In the summer of 1956, in Vacation Bible School at Mayfair Baptist Church in OKC, during an invitation by my R. A. teacher, Harold Timmons, God called me. There’s no telling how many times I had heard the gospel in my young life. I had never doubted that Jesus was Lord, but now, there was an invitation from our Heavenly Father to make him my Lord. I raised my hand, was counseled, and was baptized the next Sunday. There was so much I didn’t know about Jesus, so much to learn! And there have been times when I doubted my call, especially after drifting away from the Lord. One particular time I had decided I could just live my life on my own, without God, but after being miserable, I came back to Him (He pursues us, and He chastens His kids!) and felt such a burden that I came forward again to re-commit and to be baptized again, in obedience. But now, many years later, I know that my first commitment to follow Christ in 1956 was genuine, and even now, if it meant that Christ would be honored and other believers would be encouraged, I would be baptized yet again, for I am not ashamed to testify publicly for my Lord!
We moved to Dewey, Oklahoma (almost to Kansas) in 1959, and I completed high school there. I was salutatorian in my class, and though Dad and Mom couldn’t help with college, my good grades – plus a student loan – allowed me to attend college at Oklahoma State University. After two years and an Associate’s Degree, I was no closer to knowing my life vocation than when I started college. After several months of “piddling around,” I enrolled in a vocational/technical school, Oklahoma State Tech, in Okmulgee, OK. Almost on a whim, I started in an accounting curriculum, and I found my niche! I was born to be a bean counter! I ate it up! I still love “numbers.”
It was also during this time I met my wife-to-be, Joyce Allen, of Enid, OK. From the first time I saw her, I thought, “There is trouble!” But that first thought turned to love, and we were married in the spring of 1969. It was during this time that I was living my life “on my own,” and when Joyce and I were married, she had not decided to become a follower of Jesus Christ. But God was at work, drawing both of us. He was drawing me back to Himself and drawing Joyce to hear and understand the gospel. I decided to start attending church again, and Joyce, having nothing else to do on Sunday mornings, began going with me. (She said there was nothing on TV anyway except preaching, so she might as well hear it “live”.) I will never forget that Sunday morning, during the invitation, I was praying so hard for Joyce to commit to Christ, and I looked up, and she was gone! She was at the altar giving her life to Jesus and believing He died for her. Now our marriage was complete: Mike, Joyce, and Jesus!
After completing course work at O State Tech, my first job was with an oil and gas company in Tulsa, OK. There our first child, Jennifer, was born, and three years later our second child, Bryan, was born. Job changes took us from Tulsa, to Norman, OK, to Enid, OK, and then to Fort Worth, TX. While in Enid, I completed my bachelor’s degree in accounting at Phillips University. A few years later, I passed the CPA exam (which I surely could not pass again, to be sure-- “CPA” means “can’t pass again!”)
Just before moving to Fort Worth, Joyce’s sister was going through a rough stretch and had to give up her baby to CPS. We agreed to take the little 4-month old as foster parents. But only a couple of weeks later, Joyce’s sister Zoe died of a drug-related incident. After prayer, we decided to adopt her child, and Tony Allen became Tony Beard.
It didn’t take us long to “find” Southcliff Baptist Church when we arrived in Fort Worth in 1981. When I checked the yellow pages in the phone book upon arriving at Fort Worth, there were no less than 87 Baptist churches! But we were confident that Southcliff was to be our church from the first moment we stepped inside. After a few Sundays, we moved our membership and have been here ever since, 36 years later.
In Fort Worth, our daughter Jennifer was married just out of high school and gave us our first blessed grandchild, Ashley, shortly thereafter. Jennifer was the ultimate homemaker, a rare “stay-at-home” Mom. After high school, our oldest son, Bryan, attended UTA to complete a bachelor’s degree in marketing. It was during this time he met his wife-to-be. They were married in 1999 and have given us our two grandsons – Brylan and Cohen.
Our greatest challenge in this life began in August 2009 when our son, Bryan, was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. For 30 months, he fought the good fight, but alas, God determined to heal him “on the other side”, and he died on March 24, 2012. Those three years were our toughest, and even the following years have been difficult. We were confused, sometimes angry, always grieving, but never ceasing to trust God. We have come to embrace the sustaining thought that, if we could see the future – as God can – and could know all things – as God surely does – we would understand why He took Bryan home, and would submit to and understand His kindness, His goodness, His benevolent sovereignty. And our church family walked with us through that valley, and continues to walk with us.
While at Southcliff, we have joyfully served the Lord in many places. I am a deacon and have taught Bible Study classes. From the first Sunday we joined, Joyce and I have been members of the adult choir. Joyce is active in Women’s’ Bible study and served many years in the children’s area, including over 20 years in children’s choir. I have always loved teaching and was actually drawn years ago to teaching in Southcliff’s ESL ministry. But for at least 3 or 4 years the timing and ability to commit wasn’t there. Finally, about 6 years ago, things “opened up” and I was able to volunteer to serve in ESL. At first, I served doing whatever needed to be done, then began as a teacher’s aide. The next year the teacher I was helping stepped down, after years of service, and I agreed to become a Level 4 teacher. I served there for 5 years. I still love to teach, and I believe God has given me a “heart” to teach. In 2015 I was asked to fill in for our Citizenship teacher for a few Tuesdays as she had to be out of town. I became her assistant for the rest of the 2015-2016 year. Then Nancy stepped down as lead teacher last year, and I became the lead Citizenship teacher. This year will be my fourth year to lead in Citizenship. There are few things that give me greater joy than when one of my citizenship students take and pass their citizenship test and become U.S. citizens!
I suspect only eternity will tell how God is using Southcliff’s ESL/Citizenship Ministry to draw many souls to Himself. That is our heart! We have the freedom to openly share the Good News of Jesus Christ to our ESL students, and we pray we may be worthy vessels through which God can share His love for the whole world!
|Mike's Level 4 Classes|
|Co-Teaching with Nancy - 2016||2018||2019|
|Mike's Other Roles|
|Song Leader||The Mike Man||Gift Presenter|