April 1997 – “Wow!,” is the response I get sometimes when I tell people what all we do here at American Family Association. “Ya’ll do all that?” is the response I usually get from southern folks. Our friends in the north, east or west say something like, “You guys do all that?” Many supporters of American Family Association have little idea of the diversity of our ministry. Allow me to take you on a tour of your AFA.
The first thing you have to do is find Tupelo, Mississippi, on the map. If you’ll look at Mississippi and go to the upper right corner you should see us. If not, you need to get a magnifying glass or have your eyes checked. A town of 35,000, it is the largest city in northeast Mississippi and yes, the birthplace of Elvis Presley. I was in Greece two years ago riding an elevator. There were three Greek teenage girls and their grandparents with me. I tried to communicate with them but to no avail, except that they understood when I said “America.” When I tried to be more specific with “Mississippi” it was obvious they thought I meant the river which, of course, could mean anywhere from Minnesota to Louisiana. So I tried two last words to see what would happen. As I played air guitar, I said “Elvis Presley,” sang a lil’ Hound Dog and their faces lit up. Especially the grandparents. They wanted me to sing more, but by this time the elevator had reached my destination. Sorry.
If you walk in our doors at 107 Parkgate you’ll find the pleasant smile of Mickey Wildmon. A true southern belle she is. She’ll ask you to sign our register, then call one of us to take you – I’ll be your host today – to our first stop: the AFA Law Center.
The Law Center is staffed with six attorneys – including corporate counsel – and three legal secretaries. I’m told most law firms have three staff for every attorney. The Law Center was established to defend religious freedoms, protect the rights of families, assist communities in keeping out sexually oriented businesses and defend AFA if necessary. They do great work.
We then come to the conference room/law library where we have scripture reading and prayer each morning to start the day. But before we do we can say hello to Allen in public relations and Martha Ann who serves as executive secretary for Dad and me.
Behind that cubicle is Durrick “MyName’s-not-Derick” Hayden. He handles a lot of correspondence and in-house business.
Then we quickly move past my dad’s office and my office because you really don’t want to see what they look like. Far from being the “executive” offices you might imagine, they are quite ordinary, made extraordinary only by the amount of paper, books and other debris that you see everywhere. Wait a minute. I was not going to tell you what they looked like. Forget that and let’s walk on down to where the AFA Journal is put together each month. A hurricane named “Deadline” comes around here once a month with warning posted at least a week out. Enter this area at your own risk during this time.
What’s that noise behind the door, you ask? Well, let’s open it and see. THIS IS THE PRINTING ROOM. THIS MACHINE RUNS NEARLY ALL DAY. JUST WAVE AT THE FOLKS. I DON’T THINK THEY CAN HEAR ANY MORE ANYWAY. COME THROUGH HERE. NOW WE ARE IN THE MAIL ROOM. WHY AM I STILL YELLING? I DON’T KNOW, I mean I don’t know. I’m sorry. Here we have the mail room and boy, do we get mail. We probably get more mail than anybody else in Tupelo. In fact, all you have to do is address your letter AFA, Tupelo, MS, and it gets here.
Let’s go through here and we have the OutReach Division. These guys and gals help men and women who are struggling in the area of pornography addiction and other sexual disorders. We’ve been fighting pornography in the marketplace for years. It’s nice to be able to help those in need with Christian compassion and counseling. We hold workshops each month for 15 men and they are almost always full. We also have wives’ workshops. Pornography has destroyed many marriages and we’re going to do what we can to help restore those lives and marriages.
Moving right along, this is the data processing area. We open and process all our mail here. Up front there is our bookkeeping and computer department. As you might imagine, it takes a lot of work keeping up with the gifts that come in and the expenses associated with a national ministry. Also, the record keeping is a monumental task.
Before coming full circle, I want you to see the AFA affiliate offices. We have about 175 local groups across the nation which affiliate themselves with us and do a lot of good work standing for Biblical values. We also have about 20 state directors. That map on the wall will give you an idea of where these affiliates are located.
Well, you probably want a drink of water now. The fountain is right down the hall. There are other folks who work for us but don’t live here. We have a Washington, D.C. office for instance. We try to keep track of where Congress stands on the issues that concern us most.
Yes, we do have a lot going on. God has given us a mission. It’s up to us to be faithful to his call. Now, any questions? What? Where is Elvis’ birthplace? Well, let me get my jacket, we’ll go grab some lunch, and I’ll run you by there. It’s nothing more than a small park and a two room shack really, but since you’re in town....
Tim Wildmon welcomes your responses. Write him at:
2440 Tupelo, MS 38803