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Remembering Dr. Paul McKaughan — Missionary, Visionary, Faithful Servant of the King

Former MTW Coordinator Dr. Paul McKaughan died on December 31, 2018, He was 80 years old.

Paul grew up in Southern California, the son of a Baptist pastor, and from the beginning his world was filled with earnest missionaries and their tales of far-off lands and grand callings. In 1958 Paul married Joanne, his high school sweetheart and lifelong companion. The couple attended The Bethany Fellowship Missionary Training Center (now Bethany International) in Bloomington, Minnesota. In 1963 they sailed to Brazil, where they would serve as missionaries for 14 years.

In Brazil, Paul learned the local language and traveled the country to lead evangelistic outreaches. He collaborated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, helped start a Bible school and plant numerous churches, and worked to teach and equip local Christian leaders. In 1974, Paul helped organize and send Brazilian Christian leaders to attend the first Lausanne Congress in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The McKaughans joined the PCA in 1975. Recognizing his talents for organizational leadership and his passion for church planting, the PCA asked Paul to stay in the States and lead Mission to the World. He accepted, and became MTW’s second coordinator, serving from 1977–1987.

“He was kind of a type A hard-driver,” remembers MTW Senior Consultant Bill Goodman, who served under Paul. “Very much a leader, with a real vision for church planting.”

Paul pushed forward MTW’s emphasis on sending teams of North American missionaries focused exclusively on church planting. He helped significantly grow the total number of missionaries, oversaw the merging of World Presbyterian Missions with MTW, and was instrumental in developing MTW’s two-year missionary program. Under his leadership, MTW formulated 10-year strategic plans to start new presbyteries around the world and train, equip, and empower local Christians to step up into leadership roles in MTW church plants.

“He was also a great mentor—very interested in developing young leaders within MTW,” Bill remembers. “He had lots of sayings like: ‘Ministry flows from relationship.’ You’d come up with an idea and he’d say: ‘Let your vision be your commission.’ In other words: If you think it’s a good idea, go do it. … He had an influence on a lot of people, not just at MTW, but throughout the mission community.”

Paul was an avid reader, a networker, a thinker—always on the cutting edge. His legacy at MTW can, in many ways, be quantified with graphs and numbers. Strategic plans were laid; the annual budget grew to $10 million; the missionary force tripled in size. Yet those who worked for Paul remember his kindness best.

“He came by our desks every day to say hello and ask how we were doing,” said Pat Robbins, who has served in MTW’s home office for more than 36 years. “That impressed me the most. He was personable. He cared.”

Of course, his motorcycle and signature cowboy boots also left an impression.

“You always knew he was there because of the click of the boots,” Pat laughed. “’Here comes Paul!’”

After a decade of faithful service, Paul left MTW to serve as the COO for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism, kicking off the next stage of his remarkable life. After the second Lausanne Conference was held in Manila in 1989, Paul was appointed president and CEO of the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies (EFMA; today Missio Nexus). He led EFMA for the next 15 years.

When, at age 65, Paul stepped down as CEO to become EFMA’s ambassador-at-large, he proved (unsurprisingly) uninterested in sitting around for a quiet retirement. He and Joan purchased an RV and roamed the United States, meeting with missionaries and church leaders and encouraging the many individuals he had mentored over the years.

The strength of Paul’s character and the winsome wisdom of his words left their mark on the hearts and souls of many. He left blessing in abundance in his wake—a legacy of souls and grand plans and little kindnesses.

In 2017, Paul received a Lifetime of Service Award from Missio Nexus. In 2018, following a seven-year battle with a rare disease known as amyloidosis, Paul received a still greater reward. He is now with the Savior he served so faithfully for so long. MTW, the Church, and the world remain behind. All are better for Paul having been here.

Andrew Shaughnessy Jan 10, 2019
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