Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Memorial Saturday for MAP Founder; Ray Knighton Lauded as Ministry Visionary

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Memorial Saturday for MAP Founder; Ray Knighton Lauded as Ministry Visionary

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski, Times-Union staff writer

BRUNSWICK -- A memorial service is planned Saturday for J. Raymond Knighton Jr., founder of MAP International, which has provided medicine to millions of poor people worldwide for 50 years.

Mr. Knighton, 81, of St. Simons Island, died Saturday night of congestive heart failure at Southeast Georgia Regional Medical Center. He had been ill for about a month, said Michael Nyenhuis, MAP president and chief executive officer.

The service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Simons Presbyterian Church, 205 Kings Way, on St. Simons Island.

Mr. Knighton and his wife, Beth, 82, guided and shaped the health ministry that is widely regarded as one of the preeminent non-profit relief agencies in the world.

"Ray was one of those visionary people who had a big heart for everybody and anybody," Nyenhuis said. "In true humility, he'd tell you that it wasn't his vision that created MAP. Rather, he'd say it was the result of circumstances set by God and that he was just following God's lead."

MAP International is a global Christian humanitarian organization based in Brunswick with about 125 employees worldwide.

It provides about $150 million in essential medicines and medical supplies annually to hospitals, clinics and refugee centers serving people in the world's poorest communities. MAP also provides health education and training programs from its offices in Africa and Latin America.

A Chicago native, Mr. Knighton founded MAP International in 1954. Back then, it was known as Medical Assistance Programs. At that time, MAP was a branch of the Christian Medical Society, of which he served as executive director.

In 1965, Medical Assistance Programs became an independent agency known as MAP International. Mr. Knighton served as its president until 1980. The Knightons moved to St. Simons Island in 1985, when MAP International relocated to Brunswick from the Chicago area.

Although he and his wife retired a few years ago, both remained active in the organization. Mr. Knighton told the Times-Union in a 2001 interview that MAP was God's work, not his. …

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