Getting From DEA to ALDE

April 2018
Catherine Hegarty

How many development professionals can say that they have been on a drug bust AND have helped start a church? Maurice King can. As the Director of Advancement for Lutheran South Unity School (LSUS), a kindergarten through eighth grade school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Maurice credits God with giving him the experiences that have brought him where he is today.

Maurice (pictured right, center with the DEA) grew up Baptist, and his home church played a significant role in his formative years. Upon graduation from Jackson State University in Mississippi, where he was the quarterback, Maurice joined the local police force. He then entered the training program for DEA Special Agents at the FBI Academy Quantico, Virginia. Once Maurice completed his DEA training, he was assigned to work in Beaumont, Texas.

Maurice was undercover during the day, but studied theology at night at East Texas Theological Seminary. Before completing his studies, he requested a voluntary transfer to DEA Resident Office in Merrillville, Indiana, when his father was diagnosed with a terminal illness. While this put his seminary studies on hold, it was in Indiana where he met his wife, Lovita, and started his family. They eventually moved to Fort Wayne, where Lovita served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. There, Maurice organized and founded Promise Land Church which he currently serves as Senior Pastor.  Serving mainly low-income families, the church is a beacon of hope in the south Fort Wayne community.  

Maurice’s work with Promise Land, National College, and Blue Jacket, a program that works with ex-offenders, helped prepare him for his role with Lutheran South Unity School. Unlike many Lutheran schools, this ministry serves primarily low-income families - 96 percent qualify for free/reduced lunch. In addition, some students’ parents are incarcerated. Costs for this association school supported by four small Lutheran congregations continue to rise each year.  The needs are great!

When Maurice was recommended for his current position by a school board member, his first response was, “I don't think I'm a match,” reflecting on the fact that he had no formal development training. After meeting the children and seeing the need, his response changed to “I’ll try it.” Guided by fellow ALDE member Jon Dize, Maurice discovered his gift for connecting with others and found that his life experience helped him to “do a lot with a little” and to trust God to guide him in his work on behalf of the students. “It’s Christ and the kids that keep me going,” says Maurice.  

With the challenging backgrounds of his students, Maurice was surprised and delighted to witness their generous spirit and loving nature. Students help promote the school by leading tours for visitors and potential donors. Each year, the school also participates in the Liberian Container Project, which ships donated supplies and equipment to a school serving over 3,000 students in Liberia. This helps LSUS students see that there are some children with even greater need than they face, and for them to feel proud of themselves for helping others. Maurice continues to marvel at the school community’s efforts to bless others when many have so little themselves. Generosity is about giving money, but also giving time and energy. LSUS students routinely visit residents at Lutheran Life Villages, crochet mats of plastic yarn made from grocery bags for homeless people, sort food at food pantries (which are sometimes used by students themselves), and read to area preschoolers. Service gives LSUS students perspective and provides them with a strong sense of accomplishment. The reason for giving is great!

Many ALDE members get to development work by winding roads, but Maurice’s journey may be one of the most circuitous. It shows that we all have talents we may not recognize, and ALDE can help bring them to light so that we can better serve others and work for mission.

Catherine Hegarty is Director of Development at Walther Christian Academy in Melrose Park, Illinois.

See more from SPARK