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Evangelist Michael Morris

Associate Evangelist with Christ for All Nations
Member of the CFAN Evangelism Alliance
Religious Volunteer for Pinellas County Jail
Mentor with Fresh Start Mentoring

 

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Why Ocean?
Our Story!

Oceanography - Ocean Optics – Ocean Gospel

Why name our ministry Ocean Gospel? 

 

This is the path God led me on:

  • I left my empty life and job to find a new life and career in Oceanography

  • I met my wife at the beach by the Ocean

  • I started a company to save us from poverty named Ocean Optics

  • I came close to God and was saved when I travelled across the Ocean to Africa

  • I preached the gospel, saw souls saved and healings when I travelled again to Africa

  • God is calling me now to go and preach the gospel!

 

Here is the story...

It’s often easier to see Jesus at work in retrospect. Every step of the way He was with me, even when I didn’t know it. Jesus led me to turn make several big changes, turning away from depression, insignificance, loneliness, poverty, and now towards serving Him.  The ocean was a common thread in these changes, and the reason for naming our ministry Ocean Gospel!

A trip to the shore was an exciting magical adventure when I Iwas growing up.

Of course, the Ocean was the main attraction. The ocean is fascinating – changing patterns of the color of the water, waves, currents, and the variety of sea-life. There is a rhythm and cadence to the change…  learning that patient observation is rewarded with seeing the occasional dolphins, the larger than usual breakers, the arrival of jellyfish, the ever-changing tides, the power of the storms. And, there is the mystery of the depths . . .​

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  (Genesis 1:1-2)

To me, the Ocean is an analogy of our dual nature - physical and spiritual.  On its surface the Ocean is very familiar, wind and waves.  But when you go beneath the surface, if you ever go SCUBA diving, you enter a whole new world. The world beneath seems enormous, it's filled with unexpected creatures, new delights and new dangers.  So is the spiritual realm, when you become aware of it you begin to sense it is far more important than the physical world.

I was raised in a church going family, but drifted away in my teenage and college years, and didn’t really think about God much until I had my first job selling laboratory supplies to hospitals in NYC.  I found myself in a life that had no goal, no destination. It seemed devoid of purpose. I was depressed and came very close to suicide, but Jesus stopped me. He led me to start a new life.

I learned to SCUBA dive, went on a diving/research trip to a small island near Granada, and decided my new life would start by going to grad school for a career in Oceanography. I was accepted by USF in Florida, and I began to make plans for leaving my job. 

Then I met my wife at the shore!  At the time several of my friends and I shared a summer rental of one half of a house in Manasquan, NJ.   One weekend the girls who rented the other half had some friends visiting for a night. We all went out together and I met Linda.  My friend who was apparently gifted with prophecy told me later “You are going to marry that girl!” He was right!

I moved to St Petersburg, FL and studied Oceanography. Linda joined me later and we were married. I was blessed with opportunities to go on research cruises to deep ocean waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. While in school we were both really blessed with the birth of our 2 daughters! We bought a small house, and I became a grad school drop-out to take a job with USF Tech Transfer office.

Money was tight and we got deeper and deeper into debt. I feared we would lose our house and I was actually scouting out bridges we could live under if that happened. 

 

In this anxious time Jesus told me “Start a business!”  It seemed crazy, but I did.  I started very small, working in my free time to create a product for fish tanks. It was sort of successful, but God had bigger plans in mind. I submitted a grant proposal to the US Dept of Energy to turn my pHish Doctor aquarium pH sensor into a high-tech instrument for monitoring global warming effects on the world’s oceans.  God told me to be humble! Get others who had the credentials to join the company. I recruited 3 professors to be my partners and with them on board we won the grant!  And we also changed the name of our company to Ocean Optics!

Our success in Ocean Optics was not from what we had envisioned! To make our oceanographic pH sensor we also had to invent a tiny spectrophotometer – a device that measures to intensity and color of light. Our technical breakthrough happened because we helped someone working on a different project and they repaid the favor by showing us a tiny low-cost detector that was used in bar code readers. We invented the World’s First Miniature Fiber Optic Spectrometer and launched that as our first product.

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Our vision was to change the world, by making instruments that were much lower cost, much smaller, and more flexible.  Our marketing message was literally built around Genesis 1:3, expressed in a mathematical translation known as Maxwell’s equations.  This was also our Christian Geek T shirt!  Light was the first order of creation, all matter interacts with light, and you can measure anything if you have the right spectrometer to detect the light.

God told us to put people first! He taught me that anyone (like me!) could accomplish anything, if He was with them.  We hired people without the right backgrounds to do jobs they didn’t think they could do, because we listened to Him.   So often I would hire or promote someone and have to spend considerable extra effort to talk them into it!  They did not have faith that they would succeed, and they were afraid of failure. 

  

My favorite example was a guy named Nick, who was in our church’s youth group when I first met him. I was a chaperone on a youth mission trip to an Indian reservation in South Dakota and my biggest challenge was to make sure Nick came home in one piece!  Nick didn’t quite graduate High School, tried to become an EMT and failed their final. We hired him for some remodeling demolition work.  Nick worked so hard I decided we needed him in our company.

 

I put Nick in charge of trade show logistics – packing and shipping displays and systems for demonstration for many different types of shows. He was excellent in handling that job, so I promoted him to customer service, then to sales. Along the way we coached him on how to write and respond to customer emails, basic principles of physics, chemistry and biology, all the details and nuances of using fiber optics and spectroscopy.  He did so well he was promoted to handling distributors in the US and eventually became the world-wide sales manager handling over 120 distributors.

There were many other examples as well.  In some ways we were a company of people who had failed, who came together to make a very successful and envied company.  We always made treating people well our reason for working --- customers, employees and our investors.  My biggest thrill was Christmas, when we gave the most outlandish bonuses we could. Our bonuses were always surprises, everyone always got the same amount, they always came out on Christmas eve, and they were pretty big!  One year we gave everyone $10K bonuses at a time when average starting salaries were around $20K/yr.  

The better we treated people; the more God blessed us.  For customers it was money back returns for any reason, if we didn’t have something they needed we invented it, if we came out with a newer model there was always a generous trade-in/upgrade offer, and we always offered our best scientific and technical advice. Oh, and we were 10X less expensive than the current technologies.

Our spectrometer was used in everything from teaching labs at schools, to analyzing the inks of dead scrolls, measuring phosphorescence of the Hope diamond and in a system on the Mars Rover that analyzes the composition of the Martian rocks and soils.

We also did very well for our investors. These were about 60 family members, friends and colleagues.  It took about 20 years, but we finally sold the company. The sale was half cash and half a 2-year earnout based on doubling the company profits in 2 years.  We were 3/4 through the first year and doing poorly. We were at only 60% of where we needed to be reach the earnout. I mentioned this to the leader of a small group my wife and I attended.  He said, “Lets pray for you reaching that earnout!”  I hadn’t thought to pray for getting more money, but I realized a lot of people would be affected. So, we prayed!

The next month sales shot up, and the month after that, sales shot up even more! By the end of the year, we had cleared the target very easily!  The following year we did likewise. In 2 years, we had increased our profits by 230% and we had also paid the same big bonuses to the employees. Our investors ended up with a 50:1 return on their investment!

The money paid to employees and to investors also brought many blessings. My sister got out of debt for the first time in her adult life, many of our colleagues were able to retire, several of our employee’s used the money to start their own businesses, trust funds were set up for kids with handicaps, scholarships set up for students at USF, and money was donated to our friends who became missionaries.  

None of this was my doing! I was not in any way qualified, but I was led by Jesus each step of the way!

 

To Jesus be the glory

I found myself once again adrift, the Ocean Optics season of life was over! What was next?  I was invited to be on the board of a missionary friend's non-profit - Outstretched Hands.  I was invited go with Michael Vincent on a mission trip to Kenya. We went to schools, went to prisons and we participated in a crusade in Nairobi.  There I saw for the first time in my life the Holy Spirit at work -- salvations, healings, people being slain in the spirit, prophetic words, and demons being cast out.  I was given an opportunity to preach to a large crowd, which was also the first time in my life I had ever preached or witnessed!  When I returned home, my wife and I gave our lives to Jesus and got baptized!  

I always felt drawn to Africa and finally had the chance again when I applied to the Christ for All Nations Bootcamp.  This would be a 4-month full time commitment culminating with a trip to Africa.

I was worried how to disengage from my business and how to pay for the Bootcamp. My business was just me working from home selling Ocean Optics products as a distributor.  I could not simply shut the doors, as my customers needed on-going support. I didn't even consider trying to sell the business as it was just me.  I applied to the Bootcamp and then 2 days later God provided!  An unsolicited call from a former employee at Ocean Optics who had helped grow a new company called me and asked "Have you ever thought about selling your business?"  Yes! Thank you Jesus!

As I have described, the CFAN Bootcamp was a life-changing, enabling, and equipping experience! And once again I went to Africa, preached to kids, preached in marketplaces, prayed for healings and saw a momentous move of the Holy Spirit!

Our Story
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