For nearly 18 years, Marty Dupree served on the evangelism staff of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). That changed Oct. 31, 2016, when he turned in his keys and left a job he loved.
Since beginning his new ministry, Marty Dupree has found that he has more opportunities to minister with his wife, Angela, and their children.
When asked to describe his job, Dupree typically said, “I tell people about Jesus, and I train others to tell people about Jesus.” That will not change with his new calling.
“For about the last three years, I’ve really been praying and wondering if there is something else I’m supposed to do, or if there’s some other way I’m supposed to do this,” Dupree said in an interview with the Biblical Recorder. “The challenge for me was that I really love what I am doing. As long as I am out in the field doing ministry with churches, pastors and associations, I absolutely love it.”
From April through July of 2016, Dupree said he was looking for direction from God and considering options that fit his calling. During a three-hour drive to the coast last July 28, he found himself saying, “OK Lord, what is it You want me to do?”
With profound clarity, he felt God say, “Marty, you like to jump out of airplanes, don’t you?”
“Yes, I love skydiving,” Dupree responded. “Then God said, ‘I’m getting ready to ask you to jump out of an airplane without a parachute, but I’m your parachute.’ I was overwhelmed by God’s presence at that moment.”
The experience reminded him of another time when he was searching for divine direction. As the pastor of Central Baptist Church near Hickory, Dupree said he was sitting in his study when he received a call ‘out of the blue’ from Milton Hollifield, who asked him to consider joining the convention’s staff. At the time, Hollifield was BSC’s evangelism director.
A few weeks later on July 3, 1998, he was relaxing on a porch overlooking the Albemarle Sound making a “pro-con list.”
“I’ll never forget that day,” Dupree recalled. “Should I go to the convention or should I stay [at Central]? It was like the Lord overwhelmed me. He said, ‘Marty, you don’t need that list. Just look backward at how I have prepared you. This is what I have prepared you to do.’ So, I told Milton that God made it very clear. He has called me to work on the staff of the convention.
“On July 28, 2016, God was speaking to me again. When I accepted this call, I said, ‘OK, what do you want me to do?’ He said, ‘I want you to start the Jasper Foundation.’”
The Jasper Foundation has been on Dupree’s mind for more than 20 years. He thought he would establish the organization when he retired. “God made it clear He wants me to do it now,” he said. “I wondered, ‘How will I fund it?’ Again, God said, ‘You don’t worry about that. You just get it set up; I’ll take care of the funding.’”
It was clear that Dupree would keep doing the same ministry, but he would do it without the benefit of a salary from BSC.
“God said to me, ‘You’ve seen Me do miracles before, and that was nothing for Me. You’ve just got to trust Me,’” said Dupree. “I had many questions for God, but every answer He gave me was, ‘I’ve got that.’”
The next day Dupree met with Hollifield and began to talk about a transition process. Hollifield is now the executive director-treasurer of BSC. They agreed that Oct. 31 would be his last day on BSC’s staff.
“I’m still doing the things I love to do, and it’s actually broadening,” he told the Recorder.
Dupree sees many practical advantages with his new place of ministry. His parents are in declining health, requiring more time to assist them. In addition, he is free to be involved in more mission trips like the one in Haiti where he and his 12-year-old daughter, Harper, served together in January.
“All of our children have been on many overseas mission trips to about 15 different countries, but this was Harper’s first international mission trip,” he said. “She’s hooked. We had a great experience.”
The Duprees have taken their five children on international mission projects through N.C. Baptist Men, the International Mission Board, Hands On Missions and their church. First Baptist Church in Garner, where the Duprees are members, asked him to lead some mission trips. “So, this opens up an opportunity for me to do some other things that I like to do, I’m called to do and I’m gifted to do,” he said.
Dupree continues to preach, teach and lead training sessions in churches across the state. He leads lifestyle evangelism training, speaks at summer camps and wild game dinners. “Other than not going to the office regularly, nothing has really changed for me,” he added. “I’m still meeting with pastors and associational leaders just about every day. I’m still consulting. I’m still preaching somewhere every Sunday and many Wednesdays. I’ve joked that I’m not sure how I’m going to make a living doing this, but I sure am busy.”
A new branch of ministry has emerged out of Dupree’s new calling. “Milton said something to me in October that ended up being a prophetic statement,” he explained. “He said, one thing that will happen when you’re on your own is that your wife will be able to do more with you, and you’ll be able to do more family conferences and parenting conferences. I have not advertised that at all, and we already have three conferences scheduled together.”
The conferences focus on how to disciple your children and involve them in missions. “That’s just natural for us because we’re getting to live out something that we have a passion for and we have been intentional about doing,” he said.
Hollifield believes Dupree is “well suited” for his new ministry. “Marty has always excelled at being out there in the field with the churches. He is an effective motivator to help people do the kinds of things God is calling them to do,” he said.
“I appreciate the role models that Marty and Angela have been to their children in keeping them involved in Kingdom work and creating in them such a heart for missions,” Hollifield continued. “Marty and Angela can speak from life experiences of helping other parents and grandparents to intentionally grow and develop their children for God’s leadership in their lives.”
A North Carolina native, Dupree was born in Raleigh, but grew up Waynesville. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a business degree and worked in commercial banking for three years. A call to ministry led him to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in New England. After graduation, he returned to his home church at First Baptist Church in Waynesville, where he served as the associate pastor of church ministries for two-and-a-half years until he became the pastor of Central Baptist Church.
What is the Jasper Foundation?
The concept of the Jasper Foundation was born more than 20 years ago. Looking to the future, he and his wife, Angela, thought about the life insurance they owned, the children God gave to them and their passion to take the gospel around the world.
He said to Angela, “If something happened to us, we need a plan. So I set up the Jasper Foundation in my will to be funded by life insurance. … If something happened to all of us, I wanted our estate to support ministries and missionaries through an endowment. Angela and I met at a missions conference, so this has been on our hearts for a long time.”
The name ‘Jasper’ has two origins, according to Dupree. It was his great-grandfather’s first name, and it is a precious stone mentioned in the Bible.
Jasper Barbour was a farmer near Benson, N.C. “He had a love for the Bible, and he wanted people to know the Bible,” Dupree said. “Back in the 20s and 30s he organized a number of Sunday School classes in the Benson/Dunn area. When he died, the local newspapers published a story about his life because he had such an impact on people and churches.
“The article told how he left his Bible at the head of the family’s large wooden dinner table where he read daily to his wife and 11 children. He spent so much time in his Bible that he had worn grooves in the table with his elbows.”
The biblical reference to Jasper is in the 21st chapter of the Book of Revelation. Verse 11 says the New Jerusalem looks like the brilliance of jasper. Verse 18 says the material of the wall around the city was jasper, and verse 19 says the first foundation stone of the wall was made of jasper.
Dupree believes his three years as a commercial banker and two years as an intern in financial planning will help him manage the foundation. The organization’s tagline is “Helping the church reach the world.”
He said it was “a privilege” to work at BSC. “I got to do as a vocation what I have as an avocation. I got to live out and do my passion.”
Dupree said he fully supports Hollifield’s “heart for missions and evangelism. I support that vision and mission. I’m all in. That’s been true for the 18 years I’ve served on the convention staff. I’m still passionately committed to what we are doing.”
North Carolina’s vocational evangelists honored Dupree with a plaque at their annual retreat at Caraway in January. Information about his new ministry is at martydupree.org. Contact him at [email protected].