EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an expanded article based on the 2020 Cooperative Program Prayer Guide for Oklahoma Baptists. For more information, please visit www.oklahomabaptists.org/cp.

Triple bypass surgery in April 2019 didn’t slow Ron Fleming down for long. “I’m in better health than the last several years,” said the director of missions in Choctaw-Chickasaw Association. “I don’t think you can get out of ministry once God calls you to it. What else is there to do?”

Fleming, a member of the Choctaw tribe, has been in ministry for 39 years, including nearly six years in northern Canada ministering to people of the Cree tribe. A bivocational pastor, he retired as public transportation supervisor at the University of Oklahoma. Since August 2018 he’s been director of missions at one of Oklahoma’s six Native American Baptist associations. His area is 10.5 southeastern counties.

“It’s basically older men supplying pulpits,” Fleming said of the 17 churches in the association. “We need more young men. All of us are getting well up in years.”

Southern Baptist work among Native Americans in southeast Oklahoma “is not near as strong as it was 40, 50 years ago,” Fleming said. “It’s just a sign of the times.

“Our main ministry is reaching out in our communities,” Fleming continued. “We’re trying to reach our youth. That’s the basics now of what we’re doing: summer VBS and summer camps. Our primary goal is reaching Native people and all others.

“We’ve become pretty much multicultural but I think we’re still very strong in our ethnic identity,” Fleming said. “The reason we remain strong in our ethnic identity is that we identify with our tribes, our people.”

He also identifies with his two Harley-Davidson motorcycles and a Honda Gold Wing 3-wheel trike.

“It’s the feel of the open air and the freedom I’ve got,” Fleming said. “Riding clears my head.”

He and his wife Christine have two daughters, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Because of the generous giving of Oklahoma Baptists through the Cooperative Program, an amazing array of ministries are supported. This unified giving encourages fellowship with other believers all over the world. Collectively, Oklahoma Baptists are advancing the Gospel together. Learn more at www.oklahomabaptists.org/CP