'The Mind of Christ' not T.W. Hunt's only pursuit
GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)--Piano music echoed off stained glass windows and towering ceilings as guests filed into the cool dim of Holcomb Auditorium for worship. The talented pianist wrapped up his impromptu performance as the last of the captivated audience settled into the rows of pews.
But when the musician stepped out from behind the polished grand piano, audience members found he was not a legendary jazz artist, but rather T.W. Hunt, an author widely recognized for knowing "The Mind of Christ," and a featured speaker throughout Discipleship Week June 21-25 at LifeWay's Glorieta Conference Center.
"I didn't intend to be an author," Hunt explained to the crowd when he took the stage again later that evening. "But God had other plans. It's happening all over the world -- people are finding Christ in the wrong way. I love God's unpredictability."
Hunt grew up in a God-fearing household where he discovered that the words of the Bible "just leapt off the page," making it easier for him to read and memorize Scripture.
Ten-year-old Hunt accepted Christ in December 1940, but it wasn't until 1959 that Hunt would embrace the passion that "God be seen and I not be seen."
In the meantime, Hunt earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in musicology and piano and began teaching music classes at the University of North Texas and, later, at Oklahoma College for Women.
"I love teaching," Hunt said. "I thought the only gift I really had was teaching."
But when he received a special gift in 1959, Hunt began to discover God had plans of His own.
A TRANSLATION AND TRANSITION
The gift -- a copy of the Martin Luther translation of the Bible -- came from a student in 1959 who knew that Hunt spoke German, one of seven languages Hunt speaks, including Japanese and Spanish, which he learned while serving overseas in the Army and as a missionary.
The day he received the Bible was one of the most memorable and special of his life, Hunt said.
"It just seemed to be kind of ... me. Luther had linguistic skill and spiritual insight. [I made] the decision to commit all my life to Christ in 1959, reading that German Bible."
Though he already knew the Bible well through years of memorization and study, Hunt credits that day as a turning point in his life. "I began to see that what God wanted for me was everything."
In 1963, Hunt followed God's call to teach at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and within a few years, he had transformed the way music was used for missions.
"Music can really communicate," said Hunt, who developed the Music and Missions class at Southwestern.
The new class and supporting book Hunt authored offered students techniques for using music to communicate the message of the gospel, focusing on the indigenous music of the particular mission field. "They [missionaries] had been trying to use Western hymns and those don't communicate well to African people," Hunt explained as an example.
Hunt's class and text helped revolutionize musical evangelism, but Hunt soon discovered that God had more in store for him.
FOLLOWING THE CALL
In 1984, LifeWay (formerly the Baptist Sunday School Board) asked Hunt to pen "Disciple's Prayer Life" and, soon after, "The Doctrine of Prayer," but he always believed his greatest gift was teaching.
So when the LifeWay asked him to move to Nashville in 1987 and become the company's first prayer consultant, it took some major consideration.
Separately, he and his wife, Laverne, fasted and wrote down Scriptures concerning the will of God, Hunt said. "Then we got together and combined our lists."
Through that dedication, Hunt said God showed them, "You have finished what I wanted you to do at Southwestern. You need to do this."
In spite of his confidence in God's will, "It was the most scared I've ever been in my life," Hunt remembers.
THE RETIRED LIFE
Hunt returned to Houston in 1994 after retiring from LifeWay in order to be near his daughter, six grandchildren and great granddaughter. When he left LifeWay, more than 10,000 churches had prayer ministers, a staff position that was virtually unknown when Hunt accepted the prayer consultant job in 1987.
But retirement has been anything but relaxed for this author and speaker.
In 1994, LifeWay published "The Mind of Christ," a Bible study focused on Philippians 2:5-11, that Hunt co-authored with Claude V. King. Then in 2002, Hunt and his daughter Melena Hunt Monroe wrote "From Heaven's View," a study that helps students learn to look at life from God's perspective.
Between his speaking engagements, writing and role as a family man, Hunt makes time with God a priority. In fact, he said he usually does his quiet time in at least four languages.
Hunt's own life and experiences are more than enough to fill a book, but this naturally-born performer and teacher doesn't want people to focus on him. Instead, he says, "I'd rather they know about God."
Even now, after years of teaching, speaking, writing and being recognized as an authority on prayer, Hunt still asks God to define his position in life. He told the audience he often prays, "Lord, I don't know who I am. I'm not a preacher. I don't think I'm really a speaker."
Most people would at least say Hunt is every bit as good at teaching as at playing the piano and everyone in the chapel at Glorieta definitely knows he can play the piano.