I didn’t know what to expect as I walked into the lobby of the Sheraton hotel in Fort Worth, Texas, accompanied by a wrenching bout of anxiety. I was there to interview Charisa and Myles “Chairo” Munroe Jr., children of the late Dr. Myles and Ruth Munroe who died on November 9, 2014, with 7 others in a plane crash. Charisa and Myles Jr. were in town for the Kingdom Summit conference hosted by Dr. Darrell Wilson of Acts International Church, Fort Worth, Texas.
I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Myles Munroe in 2006 and 2013. His simplicity, oasis of wisdom, and infectious laughter left a memorable imprint on the wall of my heart. I wondered if his children would leave similar or no mark at all.
My train of distorted thoughts screeched to a halt when Charisa (Dr. Munroe’s first child and only daughter) and Myles “Chairo” Munroe Jr. (his only son) crept up on me. I looked up, exchanged pleasantries, and looked for a conducive spot to hold the interview. Their politeness and approachable countenance calmed my nerves and ushered the butterflies in my stomach on a permanent hike.
Charisa, a spilt image of her father, had his megawatt presence while Myles Jr., whose striking resemblance to his mother Ruth is undeniable, came across as a man of few words.
I looked forward to finding out how these children that had to become adults overnight in the eyes of the world were faring. In no time, we commenced the interview.
Your dad impacted so many lives around the world. The last time I saw him in person was on an international trip abroad in 2013. I heard footsteps running toward the boarding gate of a flight I was waiting to board. I wondered who it was and received the shock of my life when I realized it was your dad. He had no bodyguard, no aide, no nothing. Just him, armed with his briefcase and trench coat flying in the air as he rushed to make the flight. What about your dad do you remember him on a daily basis?
Myles Jr.: He was a people person, very humble, very modest. He always greeted everybody with the same respect regardless of status. He wasn’t judgmental; he was very compassionate. He tried to give everyone his time.
Charisa: To lose one’s parent is almost unbelievable. To have lost both parents is unimaginable What I miss the most is before he was anything else, he was dad. He was dad in my life. People wouldn’t fathom this intellectual icon who they see on stage as otherwise. They probably thought he was serious all the time. But when he was home, he was like any girl’s daddy and every girl needs her daddy. He and my mom were parents first. He knew how to be a serious person and how to switch roles. I think that’s important for a lot of ministers who are not like that in their homes as they do everything ministry while their family gets pushed aside. For my dad, family was first, then ministry and other needs.
I want to ask a very difficult question, please bear with me. Where were you when you heard the news or how did you hear the news of what happened to your parents?
Myles Jr.: We were in Freeport, Bahamas at the time preparing for an upcoming conference. Since my sister and I were part of the planning team, we were making sure everything was in place for my dad, his team, and those coming for the conference. We were working and expecting their arrival when phone calls started coming in about a possible crash. We were confused and didn’t know what was going on or who had the right story.
When did it sink in that their departure to glory was real?
Charisa: The first Sunday, a week after the crash, we were all back in Nassau and were in the church. So you can imagine walking into Dad’s church for the first time, he wasn’t there and where he and mom would be seated was robed in nice blue covering. They were just not there. Every time we go back home, Chairo and I go back to the church and it gets harder and harder because they really are not there. I guess it’s sinking in slowly. I can’t describe it. I can’t describe it. It’s almost like it’s sinking in but it’s still unbelievable.
I can only imagine. I have experienced the pain of losing a parent. Healing will come with time. You have very big shoes to fill. I am reminded of Pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. I believe you have a ministry in you. What are your plans?
Myles Jr.: I don’t look at it as big shoes to fill. A lot of people say that but my dad will be the first to say don’t worry about his shoes; I should just be me and who am supposed to be. There is no need to try to impress anybody. It’s something he taught us growing up and we carry it with us even now. A lot of people say ‘you guys have big shoes to fill’ but I don’t really pay too much attention to it. I get a lot of compares to Pastor Joel Osteen because he lost his father and had to be propelled into being a pastor almost immediately. I understand the similarities but it is two totally different stories and situations. He has done well for himself by carrying his father’s legacy and we plan to do the same for our parents. There is no pressure on us, we have a good support system around us. We have our family, individuals that have been around like Pastor Wilson and his wife who have been family friends for a long time. We are kind of walking in our own shoes for now as we carry his legacy forward.
Wow. I am so blown away by your firm decision to be yourself.
Charisa: This is the message my dad preached to so many people about finding out who you are – your identity. There are so many people that want to be like other people. My brother and I don’t want to be like him; we actually want to be better than our dad. It is what he has been teaching us and anyone around him. We don’t want to rush to fill his shoes but with God’s direction, at our own pace, and in our own way carry his legacy forward.
At what age did you experience God? The way both of you are holding onto the word of God is remarkable. When did you begin to embrace the word of God?
Charisa: It wasn’t a particular age. We have seen God show Himself in the lives of our parents and family. We were born into this. God was never pushed or shoved in our faces. That is one thing our parents never did. They never said you have to go to church or you have to come work for me. Everything Chairo (Myles Jr.) and I did was by our own choice or by an encounter that we personally had with God. My dad never forced us to do anything. I am a Social Worker by profession while my brother is a Businessman. We are not pastors and never went to Bible College. We were able to live our lives and follow our own dreams. It just so happened that along the way we realized and made the decision ourselves to be a part of our dad’s vision.
Myles Jr: When you experience and see God’s work, there is no need for you to search for anything else. I have seen God show Himself. There were times when being in business with my dad we experienced ups and downs. When I was not confident about certain outcomes, my dad never worried about it. He wouldn’t even pay attention to it because he knew and believed what it ought to be. As humans, sometimes we are so blinded by what our physical eyes see. It takes faith to believe that something you can’t see is something that is supposed to be. That is what my dad brought to life for me. Today, when am faced with difficult times like how my sister and I are going to get through a particular situation, I am reminded of what my dad taught me on how to respond to a situation. It has become second nature to me. We are not made to be worriers. As kingdom citizens, we have been instructed to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness will follow.
Are you telling me your dad did not start training and grooming you into ministry from day one? That is what you see in many ministries with pastors and their sons.
Charisa: Our dad trained us from day one but not to be what he wanted us to become. He trained us to become whoever we were born to be and to figure out how to discover that for ourselves – that is what we did.
Myles Jr.: This is not saying he would not have wanted my sister and me to become pastors in the church or take over the church one day. That is something he might have wanted to happen but it’s not something he forced on us. Who knows maybe He believed or saw in a vision that what happened (his sudden departure to glory) was bound to happen. He believed once he did his part in training and mentoring us to the point we are right now, we will see the hand of God in his and our family life and eventually make the decision ourselves. I never intended to move home to work with my dad. It wasn’t something I ever thought of doing.
So what happened? How did you end up working with your dad?
Myles Jr.: I graduated around the time when the economy crashed. A lot of people weren’t hiring at the time. I was in search of a job. My dad was trying to help me find a job through his contacts and networking. One day he telephoned and said in a casual voice “why don’t you come home and work for me in the family business?” It was one of those conversations that didn’t last long because it didn’t need to. Once he said it, it just made sense. It was like why won’t I go back home and work with my dad and support him and in turn support our family and myself? He didn’t force me to come home. He didn’t say you are coming home to work. He left the decision up to me and I made the decision to go back home because I saw the sense in it. By him not forcing us to become a pastor or speaker and allowing us to have our personal convictions, the role is second nature for us now. He unknowingly mentored and groomed us ahead of time to do what we are doing today.
Charisa: This is what makes it so much more valuable to us. Because he did not force us. I made my decision to work for my dad when God spoke to me three and a half years ago. A lot of preacher’s kids go the other way and rebel because they were forced to be in ministry and they end up bringing shame to their parent’s legacy. Growing up, we knew we wanted to make our mom and dad proud. We had pure love for them. My dad was one to brag about Chairo (Myles Jr.) and me. It put a big responsibility on us to make sure he was bragging correctly. We did well in school. These were things we had to do. Today, it’s not that hard for us to continue. It is most challenging because they are no longer here.
What should we expect from both of you in the next year or five 5 years?
Charisa: Expect great things. If I tell you what to expect in the next year, I will be making something up. We are still trying to figure things out as we allow God to reveal Himself. We are looking to God to guide us. We can honestly say we don’t know but we have opened ourselves completely to whatever God has in store for us. Normally, dad will know how to steer the ship but he is no longer here so God has to direct us on how to steer the ship.
Myles Jr.: The only reason we are where we are today is God. I know this for a fact. I am assured in knowing that we are going to be fine. We are still going through a process and want everything to happen when it’s supposed to. It’s how God designed it to happen and am not going to interfere with His plans. This is what my dad would have wanted. Don’t allow anyone to cause you to make a rushed decision. My decision should be based on my comfort level and how educated I am about it because every decision affects future happenings. Now I understand why my dad did certain things the way he did and why he taught me to do the same.
What do you do in the ministry now?
Charisa: There is the local church at home in the Bahamas (Bahamas Faith Ministries International) and the Myles Munroe International. My brother and I have taken over and are spearheading the Myles Munroe International ministries. The church in the Bahamas is now being run by the senior pastor, who is also one of the founding fathers of the ministry 30 years ago. The transition was an easy one because these are people that were with my dad from the beginning. He started training them from day one. We are still very much involved. Nothing stopped. My brother and I are in everything our dad created.
In today’s world, people are going through stuff. What advice or message do you have for such people?
Charisa: I think ultimately I would advise people to find out for themselves who God is and let Him take over. My dad laid out the foundation for us earlier on. The need to find out who our source really is. Imagine if we didn’t have a relationship with God for ourselves and daddy was our only link and daddy is no longer here? We will be dead to Christ.
The kingdom of God has so many benefits and once you understand it, life becomes a lot easier.
Myles Jr.: Too many times we look in the wrong places but once your faith is grounded in Him, you will feel human emotions quite alright but at the same time, you’re still grounded and rooted in the word of God.
We ended the interview on a happy note. I left the hotel chewing on the parenting nugget they had unknowingly tossed my way.
Like their precious father of blessed memory, they left an impressive mark on the wall of my heart. Any reservations of them continuing their father’s vision perished forever. The world is definitely waiting for Charisa and Myles Jr.
May the souls of Dr. Myles Munroe, his wife Ruth and the seven others that perished in the crash, continue to rest in perfect peace.