Pray for Kentucky Missionaries as They Serve During COVID-19

Only a few short months ago we entered a new year, a new decade, into 2020.  Little did we know what was just ahead and that we would be entering into a time that like none of us had ever experienced before.  Who would have thought about schools, colleges, restaurants, sporting events and especially churches being closed for social gatherings.  But we have found ourselves here for a little over a month now and I am amazed at how the Message and ministry have continued.  In fact, in many ways, the Gospel is getting out and folks are being ministered to like never before.  Doors are open with almost every conversation to share the love of God and the Message is being proclaimed all over social media.

Kentucky missionaries have continued to serve, and I am amazed at the innovative ways they are doing ministry.  KY-MSC Missionary Dianna Anderson, a pregnancy care center director, shared how they receive calls, do intake by phone, share the love of Christ and pray with the young mothers, collect their  baby items, then sets on the ministry porch for the family to pick up.  Missionaries Bessie & Lester McPeek have done something similar in working with the local health department to provide diapers for young mothers.  With each bag of diapers distributed, a Gospel message is included.  Missionary Amanda Westerfield, who also directs a pregnancy care center, shared that even though they were closed, they will do individual meetings as needed with abortion-minded clients.  She was rejoicing that one young lady had chosen life and asked that we join her in praying for two other ladies she would be meeting with soon.

Missionaries Grant & Gina Hasty, Stacey Burton, Norma Rush and others are providing hot meals, with families driving by to pick up their to-go boxes.  Many ministries are filling food boxes and putting them in the trunks of cars as families drive through.  John Morris and his staff at God’s Appalachian Partnership (GAP) in McDowell have a new computer system that allows the families to choose the food items they want.  The order is then sent inside the ministry building to be filled and brought out to the cars as they drive by.  Missionaries Philip Ritchey is working alongside the local schools to help get food to children, while Keith Decker and staff at Cedaridge Ministries are resourcing local churches with food for distribution.

Each year GAP does a huge community Easter egg hunt which, of course, had to be cancelled.  This year’s theme was “Hunting for the Truth” and was to be a unique way to hunt eggs and a carnival-type atmosphere.  Each activity would lead the children to the “truth pavilion” where they heard about Christ and the true meaning of Easter.  In its place GAP provided Easter bags for the children that were distributed when they came to pick up their food box.  Each bag included candy, egg dye and specially designed packets with activity cards, the Gospel story and Easter message, and an invitation to join the online Easter services at a local church.  Missionaries Daniel & Alice Tarnagda, Amy Wilhelmus and Stacey Burton also did similar Easter outreach events by providing packets with a craft item, sidewalk chalk, food, and the Gospel message to children in their regions.  Immanuel Baptist Church in Somerset provided Mrs. Amy with 71 Easter baskets to distribute to the children. 

As you can see, ministry had continued in a great way.  As I have talked with the missionaries, they all had interesting stories to share.  But many of them seemed tired.  In the midst of COVID-19 some had also experienced powerful windstorms and power outages in their areas.  Many are in need of food, water and could just use some encouragement.  May I ask you to pray for our Kentucky missionaries as they continue to serve thousands of people with material resources and with the love of Christ.  Go to www.kybaptist.org/missionaries to learn about each ministry and know how to better pray.  Contact me at [email protected] for information on how you can get involved with ministries in Kentucky during this most challenging time.

Stay safe and healthy everyone and keep sharing the hope of Christ.  Thank you for your support of the work of these and other ministries through the Cooperative Program and the Eliza Broadus offering for state missions.

Meet Our New 2020 Kentucky Missionaries

PLEASE NOTE: This event has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Go to www.kybaptist.org/missionaries to learn about these and all of our Kentucky missionaries. Pray for them (and maybe even send a note of encouragement) as they are having to find new ways to do ministry during these challenging times.

Join us on Friday, April 17th, during the evening session of the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union Annual Meeting & Celebration at Richmond First Baptist Church, and meet our new 2020 Kentucky missionaries.  Eight men and women have sensed God’s call to serve in ministries across our state and will be commissioned during a very inspirational service on that evening.

These new missionaries are:

  • Mollie Bentley, Director of the Rockhouse Baptist Church Mission Center in Hyden.
  • Sheila Hourigan, Executive Director of House of Hope Pregnancy & Family Resource Center in Springfield.
  • Christian & Katie McKenzie, Directors of Hillcrest Baptist Camp in Cave-in-Rock, IL.
  • Joyce Morris, Missions & Ministry Associate at God’s Appalachian Partnership in McDowell.
  • Tanya Parker, Missions & Ministry Associate at God’s Appalachian Partnership in McDowell.
  • Norma Rush, serving with House of Blessings in Monticello.
  • Brenda Sparks, serving with Cedaridge Ministries in Williamsburg.

Prior to the commissioning these missionaries will spend the day in orientation where they will learn about the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program, Eliza Broadus State Missions and will be given many resources that will be beneficial to them as they serve.  The time of networking with each other will also be most valuable. 

You can partner with these and/or one of our current 107 Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries by:

For more information please contact the KBC Missions Mobilization office at [email protected]

We hope to see you at Richmond First Baptist Church on April 17th.  Go to www.kywmu.org and register at “All In – Pursuing God’s Mission Together.”  

Meet Miss Helen, Miss Patti and the McPeeks

Lester & Bessie McPeek
MSC Missionaries

In 2001 Lester & Bessie McPeek from Jenkins, KY began “God’s Love from a Diaper Bag,” a ministry to young mothers struggling to provide diapers for their babies.  Now, nineteen years later, this ministry is still going strong and has grown beyond anything they could have thought or imagined. 

Along with diapers, this ministry provides now baby clothes, baby food, wipes, car seats and pretty much anything a parent might need for their baby.  They host baby showers for expectant mothers and teach lessons on how to care for the babies.  They partner with local health departments, hospitals, sheriff departments and even jails, to minister to families.

Early in their ministry Mrs. Bessie began to address the “Shaken Baby Syndrome” issue, using eggs and baby food jars to demonstrate.  She would put an egg in each of three baby food jars.  The white of the egg represented the membrane, the yoke represented the brain and the baby food jar the skull.  As she shook the first jar the yoke of the egg would separate into the membrane.  The egg in the second jar, when shaken a little harder, would separate a little more.  The egg in the third jar, when shaken violently, would look like scrambled eggs.  This allowed the parents to actually “see” the seriousness of shaking their babies.

Miss Helen
“Shaken Baby” Doll

Now, with the addition of two fairly new members to the “God’s Love from a Diaper Bag” team, Mrs. Bessie can demonstrate this problem even more realistically.  Miss Helen Arabella Grace, a “Shaken Baby” doll, is the size and weight of an actual baby, but with a clear head that allows the parents to look inside the brain.  When the doll is shaken, the head lights up in the part of the brain that is affected, allowing the parents see what happens when they shake their baby.  She shares with them how, when they get to the point of frustration, to deal with it in other, non-violent, ways even to the point of calling someone to help when they got to that point.  One lady with three young children said to her, “but Mrs. Bessie, I don’t have anyone to call” to which Mrs. Bessie replied, “then call me.” 

One night at 8:00 the lady called.  The children were crying, there was no milk or diapers, the boyfriend had been put in jail due to drugs and the lady was so distraught.  Mrs. Bessie went to the house, took milk and diapers, rocked the children, put them to bed and just sat with the lady until she calmed down.  The love of Jesus demonstrated. 

Miss Patti
“Drug” Doll

The other new “member” is Miss Patti, a “Drug” doll, representing a baby that is addicted to drugs.  The doll’s face grimaces as if in pain, her hands and feet are clutched, and her stomach is sunken in.  The doll tremors like she is going into DTs and she cries constantly.  This doll helps the families to see how using drugs will affect their babies.    

These two dolls are great tools is teaching families to care for their children, which is so important, but the McPeeks do not stop there.  Mrs. Bessie shares that “the plan of salvation is given to every person who attend any of our mission events or that we deal with on a daily basis.”  Over the past four years they have witnessed 81 persons praying to receive Christ as a result of their ministry and/or personal witnessing. 

Please pray for the McPeeks as they minister in their hometown of Jenkins and surrounding areas.  Pray for the babies and families they serve.  Pray for mission teams to work alongside them and pray for many more to come to Christ as a result of this ministry.

Contact the KBC Missions Mobilization office ([email protected]) to learn of ways to serve with this ministry.

A Soft Place to Land in a Hard, Hard World

Lee, Erica & Cheri

For the past 20 years women inmates across Kentucky have been shown the love of Jesus Christ through worship services and the Christ-centered teachings of Freedom Forever Ministries.  KY-MSC Missionary Lee Rust says they minister inside, behind the bars.  In addition to the worship services Lee and her volunteer team provides a 10-week Good Grief program and are reaching women who are often forgotten, with the Word of God.

“We see God transform lives right before our eyes,” Lee says.  “We get to know the women, share their heart and pain, and see God work through them.  We are His voice.  We are rewarded by seeing what He does, by seeing changed lives.”  Lee says it is not unusual to have women come up to her years later, ask if she remembers them and tell her how well they are now doing thanks to Freedom Forever Ministries.

Cheri, a former inmate who was incarcerated at the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex for three years, is more than happy to sing the praises of Freedom Forever Ministries.  She was very broken and really struggling while in prison, but said this ministry was “such a bright spot for the ladies in a really dark world we were living in.  They were such wonderful people, so loving and kind,” Cheri said.  “It encouraged my faith, kept me from lagging and from falling into the ways of prison life.  Once you came in, if you weren’t a believer I don’t know how you could go out and not be a believer, because you heard the Word in the message given by Lee each Wednesday, you heard the Word in the music and the seed was planted.  They were a soft place to land in a hard, hard world.  It was so nice to see a smiling face each week, to have somebody ask how you were doing, how your week was going.  They did their very best to take that extra minute here and there to be personal, interested and compassionate.  They were truly the hands and feet of Christ.”

Lee’s husband Eric and daughter Erica are also a part of the ministry.  Erica was not allowed to go into the prison until she turned 18.  Once she turned 18 however, Erica too joined in the ministry.  Cheri recalls Erica singing at the services, saying “she followed her parents’ servant hearts.”

Erica just recently married and, when choosing food for the wedding reception, reconnected with Cheri, who is now released from prison, has her life back together, and has her own business of making beer cheese.  Cheri said it was the first time she had seen this family since being released from prison and it was such an honor to meet on the “other side” and to “give back” to a family that had meant so much to her. 

Pray for Lee and Freedom Forever Ministries as they make a difference in the lives of many women when they are at their lowest.  To learn more about Freedom Forever Ministries go to https://freedomforeverministries.com/ or connect with them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FreedomForeverMinistries/), where you will find a video of Cheri’s testimonial. 



Thank you, Bill…

‘Tis the season.  The Christmas season.  The season when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The season of giving. 

In our work it is also the season of filling and distributing Christmas backpacks for children, which began in 2001 when a group of GA’s (Girls in Action) in Georgia wanted to bless less-fortunate children in Appalachia who might not get a lot for Christmas.  The backpacks are filled with toys, clothes, hygiene items, food, a Bible, and a copy of “The Christmas Story.”  (In the early years gifts were placed in shoeboxes but transitioned to backpacks in 2012.) 

Bill Barker, then Appalachian Regional Ministry Director, started promoting this project and, eighteen years later, the Christmas Backpack Project is still going strong.  As a result of Bill’s efforts thousands of children have a better Christmas.  This year an estimated 75,000 backpacks will be filled by Southern Baptists, with a total estimated 390,000 shoeboxes and backpacks filled during the eighteen years. 

Bill Barker served as Director of Appalachian Regional Ministry (ARM) from the Spring of 2001 until December 2017 when he “retired” from that position.  In 2018 Georgia Baptist Convention launched Appalachian Mountain Ministry (AMM) with a similar purpose as ARM and covered the same geographical area.  So, the work continued. 

I was introduced to Bill on a July evening in 2001 during the Mountain Missions Conference at Oneida Baptist Institute and have worked closely with him since that time.  The Christmas Backpack Project is just one of many ways Bill has served in Appalachia. 

Well over a million mission volunteers have been mobilized through Bill’s efforts, partnerships between churches and associations have been developed, long-term missionaries have been called to the mission field, church buildings and homes have been built and repaired, resources of all kinds have been shared with ministries, tens of thousands of children have been fed and clothed, churches have been strengthened, and the list could go on and on.  But, the most important statistic, and the reason Bill spent the long hours doing what he loved, is that over 83,000 have prayed to receive Christ. 

As we come to the close of 2019 Bill will “retire” once again from AMM and is now back in the pastorate in Georgia.  The Lord has used him in mighty ways across Appalachia. 

Thank you, Bill, for your ministry.  Many men, women, boys and girls have been blessed because of it.  We will never know, this side of eternity, the huge impact you have made in eastern Kentucky and all of the Appalachian region. 

May the Lord continue to bless and use you and Arlene in His Kingdom work.  We love and appreciate you!!

For I was hungry…

Tanya Parker is a new North American Mission Board Missionary serving as a Missions & Ministries Associate at God’s Appalachian Partnership in McDowell (Floyd County), KY.  However, she and her family are not new to GAP.  In 2001 Tanya and her husband Joe were living and working in Lexington, when they both lost their jobs within three months of each other.  Tanya was pregnant and did not go back to work.  The employment her husband was able to find was not the equivalent of what he previously had so they were struggling financially.  They moved back home to McDowell, KY and, during that time, turned to GAP for help.  “They helped us with food, clothing and encouragement in the name of Christ,” Tanya says.  “Every time I hear the scripture ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me…’ I think of GAP.”

Once back in McDowell Tanya and Joe both found employment and, with the help of family, friends, GAP and Dave Ramsey classes they took through their church, they gradually got “back on their feet.”  Tanya would volunteer at GAP every chance she got and prayed for God to guide and bless the ministry so they could continue to share Christ and meet the needs of the people. 

Around a year ago, when GAP was in need of staff, Tanya began praying for God to send missionaries to come alongside Directors John & Shaughanessy Morris and help carry out all that God had planned for the ministry.  In March 2019 she volunteered at the annual Easter Egg Hunt and says she remembers exactly where she was standing when she felt the Lord tell her, “this is it, this is where I want you.”  Tanya says she didn’t immediately obey, started second guessing herself and was becoming miserable.  She met with John and started asking questions about the missionary life.  “After a time of fasting and prayer,” Tanya says, “I confirmed that God truly was calling me to serve at GAP.

This was not an easy decision for Tanya.  She served as administrative assistant at Fitzpatrick Baptist Church and truly loved her ministry there, but GAP seemed to be just where the Lord was leading. 

Tanya’s pastor, Bro. Tommy Reed, was sad to see her leave, but had this to say: “If I were picking a team she’d be on it.  She is mature.  She loves Jesus.  She loves her family.  She loves her church.  I love her and will miss her immensely.”

GAP Director John Morris said, “For over two years my wife Shaughanessy and I have been praying that the Lord would send someone like Tanya Parker to GAP.  Who knew that He would send the one and only Tanya Parker.  Praise be to God!  We are so excited to welcome her to the Lords’ team here at GAP.  She brings a wealth of gifts, talents and experience to the staff.  She was raised here in the McDowell area so many already know her and/or her family, which makes building relationships for Christ easier.”

Tanya has come full-circle with GAP and God is using her in tremendous ways.  Just a few days ago she posted on her Facebook page (Tanya Parker – GAP MSC Life for me!):  “Today was a great day. I shared the Gospel today with a young lady and she made a decision to follow Jesus! Praise the LORD!”

Tanya has been married to Joseph (Joe) Parker for 21 years.  They have three daughters, Makayla (20), Grace (18) and Allison (16).  Joe is a deacon and Sunday School teacher at their church and the Lord has blessed him with a full time job at Prestonsburg City Utilities. 

You can follow Tanya’s ministry at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2757262984283862/.  Please pray for her as she serves at God’s Appalachian Partnership.

Join Kentucky’s “Adopt-a-Missionary” Program

Do you want an exciting and meaningful boost for your church?  Do you want your church or small group to be more involved in missions?  Do you want to “get to know” a missionary?  Then join Kentucky’s “Adopt-a-Missionary” program.

No, missionaries are not orphans, but adoption is a beautiful word that helps describe the strong relationship between missionaries and the churches and friends who pray and encourage them in their ministries. The church at Antioch, in a sense, adopted Paul and Barnabas as special messengers of the gospel to Asia and Europe (Acts 13:1-3).

The North American Mission Board and Kentucky Baptist Convention have assigned missionaries to specific ministries across our state.  These KY-MSC missionaries are adults, called by God and connected to a Kentucky Baptist Convention church, who commit to serve from nine months to two years (renewable), and are self-funded. The positions engage in or directly support missions, church planting, collegiate ministry or evangelism, in cooperative partnership with a Kentucky Baptist Convention church, association, or organization.

These missionaries are making a difference in the Kingdom, one individual at a time and, this past year alone, reported 4,442 professions as a direct result of their ministry and/or their personal witnessing.    

God calls some to go.  Others He calls to support those who go.  Support may be financial as we normally think, but there are many other ways to support our Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries.  We would like to connect churches, Sunday School classes, WMU groups, or small groups to one of our 106 KY-MSC missionaries. 

By adopting a missionary, you commit to:

  • Pray for the missionary.
  • Communicate and encourage the missionary by telephone, letter, email or card.
  • Send a birthday or holiday care package to let them know you are remembering them.
  • Visit the missionary’s ministry and assist with the work.
  • Invite the missionary to share in your church or small group.
  • Meet a need the missionary may have.

In turn, the adopting church or group will experience:

  • A personal relationship with an active missionary.
  • A strengthened commitment to missions.
  • A heightened awareness of missions opportunities.
  • A fresh, outwardly focused ministry perspective.
  • Group building and bonding through service to others.
  • An opportunity to see God at work and an invitation to join Him in it.

Since relationships do not generally happen overnight, and because it takes time for a church or group to organize and plan a strategy, a two-year adoption period is encouraged. At the end of the two years, the church or group can extend the length of the existing adoption relationship or request another missionary to adopt.

Can the missionaries count on you?  Would you commit to care for and support a Kentucky Mission Service Corps (KY-MSC) missionary?

Contact [email protected] to get connected with “your” adoptive missionary.

Meridzo Ministries Celebrates 20-Year Anniversary

Last week I was privileged to attend the 20-Year Anniversary Banquet of Meridzo Ministries in Harlan County, KY.  I too am celebrating 20-years with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and Lonnie & Belinda Riley were two of the first people I met when I came on board.  It has been amazing to see Meridzo Ministries develop over the years.  Every time I make a visit, new and exciting things have happened at the ministry.

Dr. Larry Martin, retired Missions Team Leader with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, has also connected with Meridzo from the beginning, and shares about the evening as a guest writer to this blog:

Meridzo Center Ministries, Lynch, KY celebrated 20 years of ministry in the heart of Appalachia on September 6-7. More than 200 people from at least 10 states gathered for a banquet on Friday evening at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn and a cookout on Saturday at Shekinah Village and The Stables at Creekside Glen. At the banquet, 22 current staff members of Meridzo were recognized. Meridzo is a faith-based ministry; no staff member receives a salary. 

At the banquet four speakers shared about the impact of Meridzo:  Dr. Larry Martin, retired KY Baptist Convention missions team leader; Dr. Bruce Ayers, president emeritus of Southeast KY Community College; Claude King, co-author with Henry Blackaby of the Experiencing God study; and George Otis, Jr., producer of Transformation Videos from communities around the world which are experiencing unusual movements of God. Martin has often described the movement of God in Lynch as “the greatest movement of God in one location I have experienced in more than 50 years of ministry.” Otis referred to the movement in Lynch as the greatest example of transformation he has encountered in North America. 

Lynch Mayor John S. Adams emphasized the positive impact of Meridzo Center during the past 20 years. In honor of that impact on Lynch and the surrounding area, he announced that the street on which the Meridzo Center office is located will be renamed “Solomon’s Way.” 

Lonnie and Belinda Riley, the founders of Meridzo Center Ministries, served for more than 20 years through the Ohio Southern Baptist Convention and in local churches in Ohio and Mississippi, before returning in March 1999 to their home area of Southeastern KY. Belinda was reared in Lynch; Lonnie was reared in Hazard and attended college in Lynch. There he met Belinda, became a believer, and felt a call to ministry. Unexpectedly, in late 1998 both sensed God leading them to “return home and help hurting people,” as they put it. Over the past 20 years God has displayed His power in amazing ways.

On Friday evening Lonnie announced a transition in leadership. Lonnie will remain the President and Chairman of the Board for Meridzo Center as well as continuing to do speaking engagements and representing the ministry. Drew Baldwin will succeed Lonnie as the CEO. Drew and his wife Leah have been Meridzo staff members for the past 10 years, and Drew has served as COO since 2014.

More information concerning Meridzo is available in the book “Miracle in the Mountains” and the DVD documentary “It’s Only Cookie Dough.” Website for Meridzo is:     meridzo.org

50-Year Kentucky Missions Partnership

KBC’s Teresa Parrett, with Spartanburg FBC pastor Dr. Don Wilton and Linda Gilden. Linda was on the first Spartanburg FBC Mission Trip to Kentucky 50-years ago.

This past weekend I was once again reminded of the story of a mission team that came to serve in eastern Kentucky.  They had a great week with the children and youth and, when saying their sad goodbyes, a person on the team said, “don’t worry, we will be back,” to which one of the local children replied, “that is what they all say, but they never do.”  That statement gripped the heart of the team member and caused them to change their plans and come back the next year.  It was during that visit that the mother of the child who said “they all say that” accepted Christ as her personal Savior.  This team developed a partnership in eastern Kentucky and came back many times.

Partnerships are important, because it is through partnerships that relationships are built.  In partnerships missions, teams “adopt” a specific location and go multiple times to the same place, perhaps even several times in one year.  They may bring a VBS team on one trip, a construction team on another.  The local residents get to know the team members, develop a bond and look forward to them coming each year.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting and presenting a certificate of appreciation to Spartanburg, SC First Baptist Church who has been partnering with Bell, Knox and surrounding counties for 50 years.

Bell County Associational Mission Strategist Bruce Walzer says he has personally worked with this team for 30 years as they come and do Vacation Bibles Schools, basketball and cheerleading camps, a feeding program and construction.  Bro. Bruce said they do whatever he needs them to do in his association.

Many lives have been touched in those 50 years.  One local lady shared that her children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren came to know Christ through the VBSs of the Spartanburg team and thanked God for their faithfulness to come year after year.  Another man, now in his 50s, shared that he had accepted Christ at one of the VBSs when he was 9-years old.  On a video, child after child confessed, “I gave my heart to Jesus.”

The families of Kentucky are not the only ones impacted by the Spartanburg FBC team.  Leaders of the group say this is where many of their youth shared Jesus for the first time and/or led someone to Christ for the first time.  And, many are in ministry today because they heard the call of God on their lives during Kentucky mission week. 

Linda Gilden, who was on that first mission trip 50 years ago shared about a 5th grade boy that was misbehaving.  She sat down with him and asked what was going on, to which he replied, “nobody cares what I do.”  Linda was able to share with him that she cared, and that God cared. 

This team loves the children and families of eastern Kentucky and come with one purpose, to share the Gospel of Jesus.  Many stories are told of their 50-years of service in Kentucky.  Go to   https://www.facebook.com/firstbaptistspartanburg/videos/1120596114794727/ to view their 2019 video and hear many of these stories. 

Thank you, Spartanburg FBC, for your faithfulness.  We will never know, this side of eternity, the huge impact you have made in eastern Kentucky.    May this partnership continue for many years to come.

For information on how to develop a partnership in Kentucky contact [email protected] or 502-489-3530. 

Kentucky Joy in the Mourning

Linda Otterback’s ministry has taken a lot of different turns.  In early 2001 she was scheduled for a mission trip to El Salvador.  When the trip had to be cancelled, Linda received a phone call asking if she would like to go to Fleming-Neon instead.  “What country is that in?” Linda asked.

Linda soon learned that Fleming-Neon is in Eastern Kentucky.  She said “yes” to that mission trip, which began the Eastern Kentucky SONrise ministry that is still active today.  Linda and her husband Larry poured their hearts into the Eastern Kentucky area, where they have led prayer meetings, women’s and men’s conferences, gathered much needed resources (clothing, diapers, household furniture, Christmas gifts), and led mission teams to the EKY area.  They have also been such encouragers for many residents, as well as missionaries that serve in eastern Kentucky.

Larry and Linda were married 52 years, grew up in church together, and served together as North American Mission Board MSC Missionaries.  Larry served in this position for 12 years until health issues forced him to step down. On September 30, 2016 Larry went to his heavenly home and Linda was left to serve alone.

After Larry went “home” Linda felt her life was over.  “I couldn’t sleep or eat for almost a year,” she said.  “I cried every night and much during the day. I put on a great face to others, but really had hit the bottom. My kids were concerned that they had lost me also.  But, PTL for friends, family and God who didn’t let me stay there.  I started reading the Psalms in detail after Larry passed. I believe God wrote them for me especially!!  They hadn’t meant as much before, but now I see how HE spoke to me through my trials and valleys.  I still miss my man so very much but have found that God has much yet for me to do.”

The summer before Larry passed, God spoke to Linda in a dream saying she would be doing a widow’s ministry. So, in the midst of her grief, God led Linda to use her experience and her role as a “widow” to begin a ministry to others who had lost their husbands.  Thus, “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” was born. 

Widows all across Kentucky have challenges and are in need of God, our churches, and each other to help them through this journey.  “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” reaches out to them to share stories, encourage, minister, and give insight on how to navigate this season of life.

Linda, along with the “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” team, is available for church workshops, retreats, speaking engagements, luncheons and conferences.  If you know a widow who is struggling, or if you feel led to begin a widow’s ministry in your church, please contact Linda at [email protected].  Visit their website (www.kybaptist.org/widows) to download resources, or connect with “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” on Facebook.

Praise be to the God… who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4.