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Deerfoot Baptist member named Outstanding Missions Volunteer comment (0)

November 24, 2011

By Brian Blackwell

Many ministers recall that signature moment when they realized their calling; Ken Kelley’s was on an Easter morning on a south Georgia farm.

For several years, Kelley and his wife, Mary Ann, had contemplated giving up their farming operation for a call to the missions field. At the time, Kelley was raising peanuts, cotton, corn, wheat, pigs and cows on a farm near Tifton, Ga., but he felt that missions could be in his family’s future.

On April 11, 1982, Kelley was preparing to teach his Sunday School lesson on a cloudy Easter morning. What followed was a supernatural experience, he said.

“God expressed Himself in a bright light, a holy light,” said Kelley, who was named the 2011 Outstanding Alabama Baptist Missions Volunteer on Nov. 15 at the Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting in Mobile. “When I got off my knees, the sun was shining through the sky. There was no doubt that, as God had sent Jesus to seek and save the lost, … God was sending me to seek and save the lost.”

Three months later, Kelley enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., to prepare for a career in missions. But as he progressed in seminary, his professors advised him that it would be too difficult to pursue a full-time career overseas when his family was caring for a daughter with disabilities.

So Kelley shifted his focus to serving as a pastor of churches in the United States while participating in a variety of missions trips, including more than 25 overseas to places like Brazil, Zimbabwe and Romania. His work has included constructing chapels, preaching, cleaning up disaster areas, feeding men at a homeless shelter and performing maintenance work in an apartment complex.

Kelley cites his experience in agriculture as helping lay the groundwork for his four decades of missions trips.

“The years spent farming were a great time for me to get to know the Lord better and watch Him grow and plant stuff,” said Kelley, who resigned as a staff member at Deerfoot Baptist Church, Trussville, in 2006 to devote more time to missions. “I look at it as a wonderful way for planting churches. A person plants the seeds and watches God cultivate [them].”

Carol Massey, a fellow Deerfoot Baptist member, said Kelley embodies the heart of volunteer missions and even called him “Mr. Missions.”

“For the more than 10 years I have known Ken, he has shown me that as a Christian, he is the real deal,” Massey said.

“His history of missions work here in his Jerusalem (and) in his Judea and throughout the world is documented both here and in heaven.”

Roger Willmore, Kelley’s pastor for nearly seven years, has also noticed how he walks the walk.

“Ken does not just talk about missions,” Willmore said. “He rolls up his sleeves and does missions, and he does missions in his own community and around the world.”

And as Deerfoot’s missions coordinator, Kelley leads others to do missions, too.

While he has a particular passion for Romania — where he has traveled more than 20 times for up to five weeks at a time — he still has a desire to go on trips to locations he has yet to visit.

“There are many places throughout the world I would like to go to, such as India, which is on my radar for one day,” Kelley said. “I just want to be wherever the Holy Spirit leads and where the Lord can use me to share the love of Christ with the lost.”

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