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Hillsboro man's path now leads to Africa

Staff writer

Luke Moore is learning to trust God with life’s unexpected twists and turns.

But it hasn’t always been easy.

Moore admits that he allowed himself to become bitter after a rare cancer derailed his athletic dreams and he battled an addiction.

“I had a lot of struggles in my life,” he said. “I grew up a Christian and fell into a lot of sin and struggle.”

It was then, he said, that God “broke him in powerful ways” and allowed him to rediscover Christ with a call to spread the gospel through TREK Multiply, the mission agency of the Mennonite Brethren church.

Moore will train for two months in Wichita with team leaders Bob and Kelly Pankratz.

The team will be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they embark. After that, he will spend three months in Niger.

It’s a far cry from the future he thought he would have as an athlete and coach.

Six-and-a-half-years ago, Moore was playing football at Greenville University in Illinois when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer that develops in bones and soft tissue.

Moore endured more than 13 rounds of chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, and a dangerous infection during his cancer fight.

Doctors in Kansas City removed the mass from his knee along with 6 inches of his tibia which they replaced with a metal rod. A post-surgical infection landed Moore in a Kansas City hospital for 10 days where he narrowly avoided having his leg amputated.

“It was hard,” he said. “I was diagnosed the summer of my freshman year. I had signed to play football. I struggled with a lot of anger and bitterness after 19 hard seasons playing football.”

Moore transferred to Tabor College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education with highest honors.

Multiple coaching jobs soon followed as Moore clung to his status a mentor to athletes.

He was an assistant linebacker coach at Tabor and shepherded the baseball team at Hillsboro High before moving to Florida and becoming head coach of a high school football team.

An addiction to porn exposed the many ways he had become selfish and led him question why he only lived for a game.

“God asked me to lay that down,” he said. “If I don’t ever coach again that is OK. It had become my identity and that is something the Lord has shown me.”

Moore moved back to Hillsboro and has worked as an elementary school paraprofessional for special education.

He reconnected with a church family attending services in the home of a friend.

Moore felt the call to mission work during a Vision Summit retreat in November and decided to answer it, despite some misgivings about whether he was up to the task.

“I still walk with a substantial limp,” he said. “I had a lot of nervousness about what could happen.”

But he said would not have the inclination to take on a mission if God hadn’t given him the gifts he needed to carry it out.

His trip is now fully funded. Rhubarb Market in Hillsboro gave a week’s worth of cash tips to support his discipleship. The effort raised about $850.

“I hope many people who gave feel they are a part of this story, too, as Christ is refining me,” he said in a thank-you note.

“I would deeply appreciate your prayers over these next five-and-a-half months … I love you all and am extremely grateful to all you for your incredible generosity and love towards me.”

Moore is looking forward seeing “signs and wonders” in people he will encounter and hopes more than a few will embrace Christ as their savior.

He no longer regrets the course change caused by his illness.

“Without the cancer, I would not be where I am,” he said. “… One thing the Lord has shown me is to trust his wisdom — he’s in control.”

Last modified Jan. 21, 2021

 

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