Clint Clifton, missionary and senior director of development for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), died in a plane crash in Dawson County, Ga., late Thursday (Jan. 12) evening.
Clifton is the founding pastor and elder at Pillar Church of Dumfries in Quantico, Virginia.
According to Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson, the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office E-911 Center received a call around 9:12 AM on Friday morning reporting a possible plane crash. After investigating the crash site, Johnson later confirmed that Clifton’s fatal plane crash occurred Thursday evening—Clifton was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
Clifton was flying alone in his personal plane on his way home after attending meetings he had in Atlanta. He leaves behind his wife Jennifer and their five children Noah, Ruthe, Isaiah, Betchina and Moses.
Pillar Church of Dumfries released a statement Friday night on Facebook. “With heavy hearts we grieve the loss of our founding Pastor and friend. Please pray for Jennifer and the whole Clifton family during this difficult time,” the caption read above the image of pastor Colby Garman’s statement.
“The news comes as a tidal wave of sorrow to us as a church family but especially to his wife Jennifer and the kids,” Garman said. “There are not adequate words to express the feeling of loss that they have experienced. In addition to being a great Pastor, he was a better husband and father.”
RELATED: NAMB’s Role in Collegiate Ministry Leads Discussion Over Executive Committee Recommendations
Garman described Clifton as a special person “that we are going to miss so deeply. It is impossible to imagine Pillar Church without his unique passion and joyful presence. I wish that there were words that I could give to bring comfort to you right now, but some sorrows take time and eternity to heal. Until then we will sorrow, but we do not sorrow as those without hope.”
The pastor shared 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 and encouraged people to pray for the Clifton family. “As you process this news, I would encourage you to bring your sorrows to the Lord and share the burden with one another. Share stories together of Clint’s impact on your life, give fresh consideration to the purpose God has given each of your lives, and endeavor to make the most of the moments God has given us to walk together,” Garman concluded.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” —1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (ESV)
Outreach Magazine’s editor-in-chief Ed Stetzer worked with Clint on the NewChurches podcast, the largest church planting podcast in the world. Stetzer told ChurchLeaders, “Clint’s public ministry was all about church planting and reaching people. His private life was about his family.”
“I join with his family and many who he has impacted in mourning his loss,” Stetzer said. “Moments like this are heartbreaking and often without answers—but Clint would want us all to cling to Jesus, and we will.”