This is Part 4 in a series of stories about set apart, a creative arts discipleship ministry. Part 1 tells how Brent & Kristin Morris decided to start set apart. Part 2 describes how set apart has grown since then, and Part 3 tells the story of Paige DeRuyscher, a “set apartist.”
“We want to do well so that we can do good.”
This is the motto Tracy Taylor claims today and has claimed for many years. Discovering what kind of good he was meant to do, however, has been a journey of many ups and downs that required plenty of spiritual searching.
Tracy grew up knowing about God, but he was not grounded spiritually. Both of his grandmothers were believers, but neither of his grandfathers was. “It was a classic case of being unequally yoked,” he said.
His grandparents’ mixed faith and the lack of spiritual leadership he observed in his own father caused him to give up pursuing any kind of faith while he was at college. Meanwhile, he became very successful in his business career. He earned his MBA from the University of Kansas and went on to become one of the very first employees at the Sprint Corporation.
Later, though, he went through a painful divorce. After this, he found himself surrounded by people that he respected – and they were all Christians. He began attending church and studying the Bible. One day, as he was reading and studying, he realized suddenly, “I believe in this.”
During the next few years, he went through a discipleship process, met and married his wife, moved to Texas, and began to think about the good he might be able to do through ministry. At first, he thought he would find an existing ministry and invest in it by providing funding. But slowly, he and his wife realized they wanted to start a ministry of their own.
“I want to do something I’m good at,” Tracy decided, “something I love, something there’s a need for.” That desire grew into a reality – a reality now known as LifeTree Legacies.
LifeTree Legacies is a ministry in Amarillo, Texas, that seeks to “redeem young lives for good.” Each week, youth come to the LifeTree facilities for one hour of discipleship, followed by one hour of training in a sport of their choice. Those sports include football, basketball, baseball, softball, strength and conditioning, and horsemanship.
“We want to do kingdom work. I want teenagers to learn and hear what I did not learn as a teenager,” Tracy said.
During the teens’ weekly discipleship classes, leaders help students work through questions such as “Why am I here on earth?” and “What is my purpose?” They also teach life skills like managing money, seeking purity, and building healthy relationships and marriages – all from a biblical perspective.
Next summer, LifeTree hopes to add a series of summer classes for whole families that will teach about the biblical role of fathers, mothers, and youth. They want to help families understand their spiritual history and set goals regarding changes they want to make in their spiritual legacy.
As LifeTree was developing, Tracy wanted to find a way to easily describe to people what the ministry did, to express his heart and dreams for the organization. That’s when he thought of Brent and Kristin and what they were doing with set apart.
Tracy had met Brent and Kristin during the time after he accepted Christ and before he moved to Texas. Their families became good friends, and so asking for their help now seemed to be a natural fit.
“I believe God puts people in your life to help you do the things he wants you to,” Tracy said. “Brent and I are a lot alike in some ways, but he’s incredibly creative, and I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”
So Brent and Kristin, along with Paige DeRuyscher, made a trip to Amarillo to visit LifeTree Legacies. Together, they worked with Tracy and his team to understand their passion and vision for LifeTree and then turn that mission into tangible words and art.
“Brent [and his team] helped put our thoughts down on paper and turned them into something that you can see and instantly understand what LifeTree Legacies is,” Tracy said.
Brent and Kristin’s team designed a courtyard outside of the LifeTree Center that included pieces of art such as an aluminum Legacy Tree; wells signifying living water and redemption; a bell meant to be rung whenever a teen accepts Jesus; and four cornerstones representing LifeTree’s core values of Trust, Faith, Responsibility, and Family.
“It’s truly an oasis,” Tracy said. “You walk into our back yard in Amarillo, Texas, and you’d think you were in Palm Springs.”
Tracy admits he was amazed by what set apart accomplished for him and for LifeTree Legacies. He compares the results to those of some of the best consultants he worked with during his time in the corporate world.
“What they do is truly a gift,” he said. “Fortunately, they are using that gift.”