Leslie D. Clark: A Legacy of Gospel Preaching and Gracious Perseverance

Leslie Dale Clark was a Chickasaw born February 3,1947 in Lawton, Oklahoma to Leslie Wellington Clark Sr. and Malsie B. Brown Clark. He was the grandson of a notable Chickasaw Baptist Preacher, Able B. Brown, who preached in the Choctaw-Chickasaw and Chickasha Associations in the early nineteen hundred. Brother Leslie married the love of his life, Deanna Joyce Walker in Talihina, Oklahoma May 1, 1971. The Lord blessed them with three sons: Able Brett Clark, Trevor Dale Clark, and Jared Frank Clark.

Brother Leslie attended Talihina schools and graduated from Talihina High School in 1965. He served in the U.S. Navy from May 1965 to June 1969. He Attended Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton, OK. and Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, OK., where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies. He attended Southwestern Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas and the Chriswell Center for Biblical Studies where he received a degree from the Master.

Brother Leslie grew up in Talihina, Oklahoma most of his life. As a young man he began to drink until he was consumed by the bottle, in bondage to sin, and living a drunkard’s life. Then one day he was invited to Buffalo Valley Assembly of God Church in Buffalo Valley, OK. During the service he came under Holy Ghost conviction and the Lord granted Leslie repentance and faith unto salvation. After his conversion he attended the Green Hill Indian Baptist Church near Talihina and sat under the pastorate of Bro. Everett Bacon, known as “Big Man.”

Soon after his conversion the Lord called Leslie to preach the gospel. Brother Leslie’s first pastorate was in Blanchard, OK. From Blanchard he went to Pine Grove Baptist in Talihina, OK., Sardis Indian Baptist, Sardis, OK., and First Indian Baptist, Dallas, TX. He pastored and established a newly planted Choctaw Church in Broken Bow Oklahoma named Myrtle Wood Baptist and from there he went to Bowen Baptist in Tulsa, OK. After leaving Bowen Baptist he served as an associate pastor at Gloriata Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, OK. During his ministry he served as Associational Missionary for the Choctaw-Chickasaw Association. He entered fulltime evangelism in August 1997 and made missionary tours across the United States preaching on several Indian reservations and in many communities. In addition, the Lord used him in other countries and around the world; Canada, Mexico, Central America, Uganda, and Africa.

The Lord gifted Bro. Leslie as a dynamic expository preacher and he was especially used to encourage and teach men in the ministry. Brother Kellos Walker said: “Leslie was a great encouragement and mentor to me; not only as my brother in law and as a brother in the Lord. He always knew just what to say when I was down and discouraged. He challenged me to always be faithful to my calling and service as a preacher for the Lord. When he was battling cancer and in bed a lot, I ask him what the greatest advice was he could give me as a young preacher. He told me, be a man of great faith, always depend on God, just live and walk by faith! Bro. Leslie was a great role model and example of this advice. He loved to teach the Word and would go to great lengths to illustrate the truth he was teaching, even if it meant getting down on his hands and knees or laying on the floor! He wanted you to understand what the Word was teaching. When I would go to hear him preach I always left with fire in my heart ready to preach God’s Word. That’s the influence he had on me.”

Brother Leslie was known for his strong convictions as a Baptist. He adamantly preached Church Truth, the Doctrines of Grace, the Pre-millennial return of Christ, and took a strong stand on the King James Version of the Scriptures. Near the end of his life, the Southern Baptist Convention awarded him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

In the ministry, the man of God must learn to keep a balance in taking care of the work of God and his family. Trevor, his second son, said “I always knew where he was going to get his wisdom to give advice. He taught me to look in the scriptures. He would often say: ‘Boy don’t you know better than that? Buy you books, send you to school and you sniff the chalk.’ As a father he was always there for me and was consistent; I could depend on him.”

Brett, his first son, said “Dad was full of practical and spiritual advice. One summer, we were cleaning up the cabin that our church had rented for the week at Indian Falls Creek. Dad and I were cleaning the men’s bathroom, while others were cleaning the kitchen, sleeping areas, and other common areas. Of course, the thing that really bothered me the most was that other kids my age were running around the campground one last time or sitting outside; not helping at all. I asked, ‘Dad why we had to clean the bathroom?’ He was the Pastor of the church, after all, and I thought that should count for something. He told me, ‘if you do the thing that people complain the most about then they have nothing to complain about.’ Then he smiled and said, ‘plus the bathroom is the smallest room.’

“Along with the practical reasoning he used, he had great ways to illustrate what God’s Word taught. One of my favorites was when he would point out Psalms 103:12 about the forgiveness of God. It says there that God would separate us from our sins ‘as far as the east is from the west.’ Dad would use the illustration of a globe. He would ask you to imagine going north on the globe. If you go north long enough you will eventually go south but if you go east on the globe you would never go west. Dad’s ability to illustrate really drove home the point of God’s forgiveness of sin.”

Brother Leslie, Deanna, my wife Deborah and I started off in the ministry together as young couples serving the Lord and learning the ministry. Our early education came from pastoring in Choctaw churches. The thinking of that day was “you learn by doing” and your mentors where pastors and deacons. Among those mentors was Herbert M. Pierce who labored in the Choctaw Chickasaw Association as a missionary, teacher, and historian. Leslie and I benefited greatly from his wisdom and instruction. During that time the desire to reach Native Americans became a necessary goal that had to be met. Bro. Leslie pursued that goal and loved to do Indian mission work by leading mission teams to various reservations. He was camp pastor at Indian Falls Creek, Kiamichi Indian Baptist Camp and other Native meetings. Before the end of his life, after his stroke, he was concerned about his ability to deliver a message. Often Deanna would set on the front pew and help him if he could not pronounce a word or finish a thought. Through his illness Bro. Leslie became a greater preacher due to greater faith in the Lord, total dependence on the Lord, and a desire to finish his race well. I was privileged to preach and teach with him in some meetings the last couple of years of his life. I watched the Lord use him and his wife together, as a godly couple, to impact the lives of others. Leslie was able to preach the gospel right up to the end of his life, though he suffered physically, he persevered to the end. Bro. Leslie graduated to Heaven February 22, 2009 at the age of 62. He successfully fought a good fight and finished his course. He is missed by many who loved and knew him as “Pud.”