It’s Christmas Backpack Time

The holidays are upon us.  Tomorrow is November 1st.  Thanksgiving, then Christmas, will be here very soon.  For Kentucky Baptists, November is the month of our KBC Annual Meeting.  For the Missions Mobilization Team, it is the month for Christmas Backpacks.  Deliveries will be made to churches and ministries, with ministries preparing to distribute to the children between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Girls and boys across the state and in our SEND CINCINNATI partnership will be blessed as backpacks YOU packed will be distributed to children in need.

Backpack applications were sent out in March, and we had requests for 12,683.  The Kentucky Baptist Convention goal for 2023 was to fill 10,000 backpacks, knowing that we would also receive backpacks from our partnering state conventions.      

Every year I get a little nervous and pray that we will receive enough backpacks to meet all of these needs.  Yet, over and over again, God provides.  Will I ever learn?  I often say, “Oh me, of little faith.”

Phone calls and emails have come in all day about backpacks.  You can hear the excitement as regional collection site directors call to report the numbers that have come in.  However, there is lots of hard work ahead.  Please pray with us:

  • That enough backpacks are received to meet the requests.
  • For associational & regional collection sites to have the volunteers needed to sort the backpacks.
  • For individuals to pick up and deliver the backpacks to the needed distribution sites.
  • For church and ministry Backpack Events.
  • For those sharing the Gospel message. 
  • For children and families to not only receive a Christmas Backpack, but come to know Christ as their personal Savior and receive the Greatest Gift this Christmas season.

Thank you to all who had a hand in purchasing, filling, sorting, delivering, distributing, or whatever part you had in the KBC Christmas Backpack Initiative.  You are a blessing to many families during this season…and even for eternity.  It’s a blessing to work together as Kentucky Baptists for such a great cause!!

May each of you have a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!!

EBO Funds Help to Provide Retreat for KY-MSC Missionaries

September is State Missions Month.  Most of our Kentucky Baptist Churches have observed the Week of Prayer for State Missions and received the Eliza Broadus Offering, which supports missions and ministers across the state.  As Missions Mobilization Coordinator with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, let me say thank you for praying and giving through EBO. 

As you give through the Cooperative Program and the Eliza Broadus Offering, you are a part of the work of 120 Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries that serve in various ministries across the state.  Just this past week I had the privilege of leading the annual Kentucky Missionary Retreat at Central Baptist Church in Corbin.    

The missionaries work hard all year, and this is a way to say thank you to them, allow them to rest & relax, worship & pray together, and a time to network with each other.  We like to say this is our KY-MSC Family Reunion.

The retreat began on Wednesday afternoon.  Following an opening devotion & prayer, the missionaries played EBOpoly with Ms. Susan Bryant.  This was a fun way to learn about ministries that receive EBO funds, as well as other information about Eliza Broadus.  Did you know she was not born in Kentucky?  Dr. Liz Encinia also shared about how KY-WMU supports the work of KY-MSC missionaries.

Dr. Todd Gray greeted the missionaries via video.  Mattew Bone, Minister of Music at Pikeville First Baptist Church, and Josh Pollitt, Senior Pastor at Central Baptist Church in Corbin, led us in a time of worship.  We heard ministry testimonies and learned about “Living with Margin” from Pastor John Lucas & Tanya Parker, with Pikeville First Baptist Church.  Wow did we ever need that!!

Free time was spent visiting interesting sights in the Corbin area.  Some got to see Cumberland Falls for the very first time; others enjoyed a snack from the “original” KFC.    

The retreat ended on Friday with “Intentional Evangelism” by KBC’s Ian Carrico, and “The 3 G’s of Discipling” by Seth Carter, Pastor of Paintsville First Baptist Church.  Bro. Seth referred to evangelism and discipling as “peanut butter and jelly.”  These sessions will better equip the missionaries for service.

This was a fun and challenging three days.  Thank you, Kentucky Baptists, for helping make the retreat possible. 

For information and ways to connect with Kentucky missions & missionaries go to     

The Summer Is Ended

School is back in session and, although you would not know it from the 90ᵒ temperatures we are having, summer is almost over.  It has been fun seeing pictures on Facebook of students as they return to school.  Parents have posted side by side pictures of their children from last school year and this school year.  This morning I saw a picture of a young lady that started her first day at the University of Kentucky.  It seems only yesterday that she was in kindergarten.  My, how quickly they grow up.  Where has the time gone? 

Although there are still several weeks of summer left, for many the beginning of school seems to mark the end of their summer.  Please pray for students, teachers, faculty/staff, bus drivers, lunchroom workers, administrators, and all those in the school system to have a good and safe school year.

Back-to-school also tends to mark the end of summer schedules for our missionaries.  Mission teams have come and gone.  Many families have been ministered to, the Gospel has been shared, and lives have been changed.  Praise God for their willingness to serve and for those who have experienced new life in Christ as a result.

Although much has been done, there is still much work to do.  Missions do not end with the end of summer.  There are opportunities to serve throughout the year.  Thousands in our backdoor, in our state, our nation, and around the world still need the Gospel.  We must not slack; never give up.  We must be about our Father’s business of taking the message of hope to them.

The children at my church sing a little chorus that says, “I hope you see that my hope in only in Jesus, and I hope you see that your hope in only in Him.”  We must go.  We must share that hope.

Be on the lookout for Fall and Winter mission opportunities.  Projects will be updated soon on the KBC Mission Opportunities page (  Churches have already begun to fill Christmas Backpacks ( for needy children where the Gospel will be shared.  Let’s keep on showing and sharing the love of Christ.  Many still need to hear. 

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20).

Ever Thought About Becoming a KY-MSC Missionary?

Many of the blogs I write for KYandBeyond each month are about Kentucky Mission Service Corps Missionaries and their ministries.  You may have heard the term, read their stories, and even volunteered in their ministries, but also may be asking, “What is a Kentucky Missions Service Corps missionary.”

The definition of a Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionary (KY-MSC), is an adult (18 years of age or older), called by God and connected to a Kentucky Baptist Convention church, who commits to serve from 9 months to 2 years (renewable). 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. Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries are self-funded.  (Go to for information.)

Currently one hundred twenty-two (122) Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries serve in various ministries across the state.  They serve in roles from association outreach positions to equestrian ministries, ministry centers, pregnancy care centers, homeless shelters, and prison ministries, just to name a few.  Some of these missionaries came to Kentucky from other states, while most are serving in their home state, very possibly their hometown or community.

We are always looking for persons to join our KY-MSC Family.  Recently, while speaking at the Liberty Baptist Association Executive Board Meeting, I met Becky Baise.  Becky, a member of Coral Hill Baptist Church in Glasgow, shared that she served at Next Step, a Christ-centered ministry designed to help equip individuals to become personally, financially, and spiritually responsible to God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They address the physical and spiritual needs of each individual through assistance with basic human necessities, the development of life skills, and through sharing the truth of the Gospel.  The following week I connected with Becky, and Next Step Director John Harbert, about becoming KY-MSC missionaries.  They were not familiar with KY-MSC, although they fit the criteria perfectly.  Both Becky and John have been approved, and are now serving as Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries through Next Step Ministries.

Why become a KY-MSC Missionary?  Individuals can serve without being KY-MSC, but networking with the other missionaries is such a support.  Sharing ideas, resources, encouraging one another, is such a blessing.  We like to say we are a KY-MSC Family.

Do you perhaps serve in a ministry that would qualify you to become a KY-MSC Missionary?  Or, do you know of someone who is a candidate to serve as a KY-MSC Missionary?  If so, please email [email protected].  We would love to talk with you about joining our KY-MSC Family.     

And, thank you for supporting KY-MSC.  As you give through the Cooperative Program (CP) and the Eliza Broadus State Mission Offering (EBO) you are a part of the work of these missionaries and ministries.  Although self-funded, a KY-MSC Missionary does benefit from CP and EBO funding through orientations, trainings. annual retreats, and opportunities to apply for grants to assist in ministry.  As Kentucky Baptists. we all are FAMILY!!

Kentucky Baptists, It’s Time to Go Christmas Shopping

Well, I have just gotten back from my few days away in Pigeon Forge.  Once again, visiting the Christmas shops and hearing the Christmas music has put me in the Christmas spirit.  It is hard to believe that 2023 is almost half over and Christmas is only six months away. 

Have you begun your Christmas shopping?  Better yet, are you planning to bless Kentucky children through the KBC Christmas Backpack Initiative again this year?  If so, it is time to start planning, promoting, and collecting items for those backpacks.  For Christmas Backpacks we are less than five months away, as they are due to be delivered to the local Baptist Association collection sites October 23-27, and to the Regional Collection sites October 30 – November 3. 

Instructions for filling the backpacks can be found at  Once there, you can download a promotional bulletin insert, poster, PowerPoint slide, and the “Christmas Story” leaflet.  Be sure to include the leaflet in each backpack that you fill. 

Please remember to register your backpacks and perhaps consider partnering with a specific ministry.  You may want to take the backpacks directly to the ministry and help with the distribution.  It is so special to see the children’s faces light up as they open the backpack, and to experience them hearing the true Christmas Story and a gospel message.  This is what Christmas is all about. 

Statistics show that 35% of Kentucky’s children live in single-parent homes, and a backpack from Kentucky Baptists may be all they get for Christmas.  Many of the backpacks collected will be distributed directly to children living in poverty in Kentucky, while others will go to needy children in our partner SEND City, Cincinnati.

Kentucky Baptist churches are partnering together to reach a goal of 10,000 backpacks to fill requests coming in from our missionaries, churches, and associations.  While we will receive requests for far more than that, we are thankful for partnering state convention churches that help to meet the need. 

And we are thankful for Kentucky Baptists and your part in this annual initiative.  Pray with us that not only will the children receive a nice Christmas gift and hear a gospel presentation, but that many will come to know Christ as their personal Savior and receive the GREATEST GIFT this Christmas season.

Remembering Bro. Keith

This is a blog I did not want to write.  This year (2023) has been a very difficult one for our Kentucky Mission Service Corps Family.  Since January 29 three of our KY-MSC Missionaries have passed into eternity. 

When I began serving with the Kentucky Baptist Convention in 1999, one of the first persons I met was Keith Decker, President of Cedaridge Ministries in Williamsburg.  I made a dear friend that day, a friend I came to love like a brother, and one I will never forget.  Last week Keith Decker, who had served as an MSC Missionary since 1997, went home to be with the Lord.

Keith Decker was a gentle giant.  He loved the Lord and wanted to make sure all he met knew Him as well.  He was such an encourager and made you feel special just being in his presence.   

Keith was such a humble man, and appreciated anything you did for him, no matter how large or small.  He could not do enough to help others, which is evident through the thousands of families he served through Cedaridge, a non-profit Christian ministry that provides food, clothing, shelter, furniture, and spiritual guidance to the poor and homeless in the Southeastern Kentucky area. 

For his faithful service, Keith was chosen as the 2014 Kentucky Missionary of the Year.  He was so overwhelmed with such recognition that he could not talk for crying. 

Janus Jones, former Director of Missions for the South Union Mount Zion Baptist Association, has been with Keith from the very beginning of his ministry and shared the following tribute: “I watched the Lord use this man to build a ministry that reached out to the world.  He never intended to start a ministry. He started having yard sales to raise money for his youth group that lasted 31 years. I am not sure when the ministry became ministry. He did not find ministry, ministry found him. From simple beginning God was always one step ahead. Another soldier has gone home.”

Bro. Keith, thank you for committing your life to the Lord and for sharing Him with all of us.  May we follow the example you set for us to love Him, serve Him, and share Him with others.  We loved you and are sure gonna miss you, buddy.

Please pray for Keith’s wife Joyce, his family, Cedaridge Ministries, and Black Oak Baptist Church, where he served as pastor.    

Remembering Bro. Marc

Our KY-MSC Family has once again lost a dear member.  Bro. Marc Hensley, who served as Director of Meridzo Ministries’ Calvary Campus in Blackey, KY went home to be with the Lord on April 3rd. 

Marc had only served as a KY-MSC Missionary since February 10, 2022, but he had done a tremendous work and had to jump in with both feet.  Marc had been at Calvary Campus only a few months when the historic eastern Kentucky flooding of 2022 hit.  He went right to work managing lots of resources, donations, and mission teams that came to eastern Kentucky to help, and many families were assisted as a result. 

Marc was not new to ministry, however.  Prior to becoming Director of Calvary Campus, Marc served for seventeen years as the Director of Mountain Outreach, a non-profit service organization operated by the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, KY.  This ministry provided community service, repair projects, and home builds to help children, the elderly, and financially struggling families with critical and urgent needs throughout their service region.

Bro. Marc’s obituary shared that he “loved mission work, loved people, was a collector and hunter, loved birddogs, was an avid storyteller, loved music, loved Kentucky, and was fluent in ‘hillbilly’’, which all made him fit right in to ministry in Appalachia.  Marc was special man that impacted the lives of so many. 

Bro. Marc, thank you for committing your life to the Lord and for sharing Him with others, especially in the hills and hollers of eastern Kentucy.  What a beautiful legacy you have left and it was a joy to know you.

Please pray for Marc’s wife Wanda, his daughters, mother, and all of the family and friends during the days ahead, and pray for Calvary Campus as they seek a new leader. 

Meet Our Newest Kentucky Missionaries

Each year we learn of individuals and couples that sense God’s call and leading to serve in ministries across Kentucky.  On Friday, April 14th, these new Kentucky Mission Service Corps (KY-MSC) Missionaries will be commissioned by the Kentucky Baptist Convention, in conjunction with the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, at the Convention Center in Cave City.  These missionaries serve in a variety of ministers all across the state.

Prior to the commissioning service, the missionaries will spend their morning and afternoon in orientation to learn more about the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program, and resources that are available to them.  This time of networking with each other is most valuable. 

The new missionaries are:

  • James & Whitney Bunch – Faith with Works Ministry/Steubenville Baptist Church, Monticello
  • Kelli Carper – Owen County Pregnancy Resource Center, Owenton
  • Jeremy Cole – M25 Ministry, Somerset
  • Angie Crawford – Alpha Pregnancy Care Center, Hopkinsville
  • Cheryl Debort-Erwin – South District Baptist Association, Danville
  • Paula Halcomb – Grace & Mercy, Hopkinsville
  • Sherry Hendrix – Upper Cumberland Baptist Association, Loyall
  • Judy Jones – Life House Pregnancy Center, Paris
  • Kyle McDanell – Capitol Commission, Frankfort
  • Chris & Denise Mathews – The Lighthouse at Nolin Lake, Mammoth Cave
  • Samantha Maurath – Red Letter Advocates, Somerset
  • Kaye Mounce – Glory Readers, Somerset
  • LaRaine Rice – Orphan Care Alliance, Lexington
  • Sherry Hendrix – Upper Cumberland Baptist Association, Loyall
  • Dale Taylor – Bags of Hope Food Pantry & Clothes Closet, Hardin
  • Charlie Turner – Cedaridge Ministries, Williamsburg
  • Colin Wood – Refuge Bowling Green, Bowling Green

You will not want to miss this special service and meet our newest Kentucky missionaries.  Perhaps you can connect with them and learn of ways to be a support to them in their ministries. 

The 2023 Kentucky Missionary of the Year will also be recognized during this service.

For more information on the activities of the KY-WMU Meeting go to

Hope to see you there!!

Remembering Ms. Dottie

On January 29th our KY-MSC Family lost a dear member.  Ms. Dottie Gebhart, who served with Hope Academy for Kids, went home to be with the Lord.  Dottie and her husband Chuck served together as Food/Nutrition Department leads and Chuck, also a KY-MSC Missionary, directs the van ministry.

Nelle Thomas, Executive Director of HAFK, shared.  “Our HAFK family has suffered a great loss in the passing of a ‘hall of fame’ volunteer and KY-MSC missionary who fed thousands of children in Hardin County for over 15 years. Ms. Dottie’s passion to nurture children with the love of God has eternally impacted all kids, big and small, who had the privilege of knowing her. Thank you for leaving your handprints on our HEARTS, Ms. Dottie Owens Gebhart! We will press on and carry out our mission of HOPE and make you proud.”   

Hope Academy for Kids began in 2007 as an outreach of a local church, when a handful of church members volunteered to transport children to the church facility for a weekly Bible study.  Immediately after the program began, volunteers realized that the children were hungry and started a chapter of Kid’s Café, to provide a meal, Bible study, and activities for 150 children living in poverty.  With such a large growth, and a desire to do more for the kids, Kids’ Café dissolved, and Mission Hope for Kids was officially established in May 2012.  The name has  since changed to Hope Academy for Kids and continues to disciple and mentor Elizabethtown-area students in grades K-12, addressing educational, spiritual, physical, and emotional needs, serving upwards of 185 students.  Ms. Dottie has been with the ministry since the beginning.

Volunteers that worked with Dottie describe her as “a special lady, loved by all, witty, having a heart of gold, a servant’s heart, one of a kind, and a person that impacted all of us.”

A parent of one of the students wrote the following sentiment. “My greatest memory of Ms. Dottie was when she would come to our house for outreaches. She never met a stranger and didn’t care how or what we looked like. We got hugs and food, and she would talk to us how much Jesus loves us and that she and Mr. Chuck love us too! She would ask us if we needed anything and she and Mr. Chuck would go buy it, or if she thought my family needed anything from food, school supplies, gas or just to cook us dinner and she and Mr. Chuck would eat with us, and sometimes Ms. Dottie would cook a meal and knock and leave it at the door and would surprise us! We KNEW WHO IT WAS FROM.  We will forever miss Ms. Dottie.  Now we have to love extra on Mr. Chuck.” 

Two HAFK students (sisters) remember Ms. Dottie and Mr. Chuck always being their biggest fans.  “Ms. Dottie would ask for our softball schedule each year.  She would tell us stories about her playing softball, give us tips on how to catch, throw, and hit the ball hard, and coach us from the sidelines.  She encouraged our whole team to play harder and play our best.  My sister and I will continue to play in memory of Ms. Dottie.”

Dottie was indeed a special lady that impacted the lives of many.  Thank you, Ms. Dottie, for giving to the Lord.  What a beautiful legacy you have left. 

God’s “Blessengers”

In August 2022 I received a phone call from Lisa McCoy, with Lewisport Baptist Church in Hancock County. Lisa is a member of God’s Messengers, a ladies Sunday School Class of eighteen or so members, that range in age from sixties to upper seventies. During prayer time, the ladies shared their concern about the people of eastern Kentucky following the devasting flood just a few weeks prior. The church had given a monetary donation through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, had even gathered resources to send to the area, and were already filling fifty Christmas Backpacks for children in Kentucky. However, these ladies wanted to do more…something more personal.

In the past, the Class had “adopted” a local family at Christmas and thought perhaps this was something they could do for an EKY family that had been affected by the flood. Lisa called me and asked for help in making a connection.

I put Lisa in touch with Lester & Bessie McPeek, Kentucky Mission Service Corps Missionaries in Jenkins. Bessie knew of a family (dad, mom, 10-year-old daughter & 3-year-old daughter) whose home had been heavily damaged from the flood, and a family that would be a perfect match for this Sunday School Class. Bessie sent ages and sizes of the family members to Lisa, and the class went to work. They bought coats, shoes, underwear, socks, hats, gloves, and two or three outfits for each family member, along with toys and bath towels. One lady also made four blankets to send. The items were mailed to the McPeeks, who planned a big Christmas party for the family.

Bessie & Lester invited the family to their ministry center, prepared a spaghetti dinner (along with homemade cake). Bessie said, “I don’t want them to eat on paper plates, I want to set out our best china,” which is what she did. The tables were decorated with red cloth tablecloths, Christmas plates, cups, glasses, and napkins, and candles burning. The Christmas tree was lit, and the presents from God’s Messengers were under the tree.

The dad was surprised when he too received gifts. “I didn’t know I was going to get gifts,” he said. “I thought I was just bringing the children for Christmas gifts.”

 The ten-year-old daughter had wanted jewelry and make-up. When she opened one gift there was a jewelry box, filled with jewelry. She was delighted.

What a special Christmas blessing for a family that had lost so much. Thanks to Lewisport Baptist Church’s God’s Messengers Sunday School Class and KY-MSC Missionaries Lester & Bessie McPeek for showing and sharing the love of Christ.

This is a Christmas that will be remembered for a long, long time…not only by the family that received the gifts, but by the ladies of God’s Messengers Class, and by the McPeeks.  Everyone was blessed by this generous act of love and kindness. 

Lisa McCoy shared, “One of the best parts is that I have made a new friend in Bessie.”  By the way, the Sunday School Class never met the family they had blessed this Christmas. 

Bessie also shared that the family was able to move back into their home before Christmas and even put up a Christmas tree. To God be the Glory!!