Long-time Manna U faculty member and pastor Richard Lee “Dick” Gaffney has a heart for international missions, but that’s only part of his story. Come meet him at Manna U’s 9th Annual Golf Tournament this Friday (March 22).
Dick Gaffney’s first taste of a culture not his own came at the age of 12. His father served in the U.S. Army, with one assignment in Japan. Though Dick has served in many roles himself through his nearly 83 years, themes of service, education, and missions work have been continuously present.
Following his father’s steps, he joined the Army in 1958. Dick married Judy Royce a year later. Susan, Rick, and Debbie were added to the family soon thereafter. The family moved with tours of duty stateside as well as two tours in Germany, allowing trips to neighboring countries. He also served two assignments in Vietnam. Diversity in culture was preparing him for a calling in global missions.
His military service ended in 1979, when he retired at the rank of Major. Along the way, Dick studied at Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville Technical Community College, and completed his bachelor degree with Campbell University in 1980.
He taught in high schools for many years, and Manna Church became the family’s place of worship. Dick served in many capacities, including a role as an elder of the church. Feeling a desire to be better equipped, Dick completed a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies with Regent University.
Unexpectedly, the Lord called Dick and Judy to teach English to students in northwest China for a year. Formal roles in missions work then followed. For a time, Dick served with the organization that prepared and placed them as teachers in China. In 1994, Michael Fletcher asked Dick to return to Fayetteville to become Missions Coordinator for an association of like-minded churches in North Carolina and Virginia. His efforts resulted in coordinating churches to adopt people groups in the “10/40 Window,” as well as in assisting Romanian churches toward growth in a post-cold war environment. These experiences uniquely prepared Dick to serve as the Missions Pastor for Manna Church until 2007.
Serving in Education for World Missions
Soon thereafter, Dr. Steve Crowther asked Dick to serve as Vice President of Administration for Manna University. For the next five years he was busy helping the college achieve accreditation, establish a Veteran Services Office, and attain eligibility for student loans. Stepping away from an administrative role in 2012, Dick continues to teach Manna U courses in World Religions and Missions.
According to Judy, Dick has several items proudly displayed in his home office: framed degrees from Campbell University and Regent University as well as a plaque from Manna U acknowledging him as 2013 Faculty Member of the Year. Dick’s academic training and life experiences formed a heart for world missions as well as insight into what it means to share one’s faith in a culture not one’s own.