One does not choose the ministry! A pastor is chosen. Chosen by God for God’s purposes, in God’s time and place, and serves him in God’s way. Henry T. Blackaby
You never know who or how God calls people into ministry. All throughout scriptures we can read stories of God calling faithful men and women at all ages into Kingdom service.
A number of years ago, one of our faithful church members, Kristi Hall, was taken to Hershey hospital for life threatening blood clots and other issues. For many weeks, it was touch and go if she would make it through another surgery, through another day. Every day her husband Kelly was by her side. While God was doing physical surgery on Kris, he was doing spiritual surgery on Kelly.
As Kristi lay for days in a hospital bed, many of those days under heavy sedation, Kelly began to read scriptures to his wife to bring her comfort, and, to help him cope with what was happening to the one he loved. As he read God’s Word, he also committed many hours to prayer.
In 2006, God wrote a story of two miracles and the transformation of two lives: 1) the physical healing of Kristi, which also brought her closer to the Lord, and 2) the spiritual healing and the transformation of Kelly’s life.
After Kristi was released from the hospital, God continued to work on Kelly as he kept feeling this nudge to “go and tell” their story . . . God’s story! As Kelly felt God tugging at him, he also continued to read the Bible digging deeper and deeper for more. It was during that time of Kelly’s life, he felt God calling him to do something more.
Both Kelly and Kristi had a deep desire to reach young adults who have drifted away from the church, or maybe were never in the church before. The desire to minister to this group of individuals, the continued nudging from God, and words of encouragement from other Godly friends and pastors, brought Kelly to the realization he was being “called by God” to enter into pastoral ministry.
After much prayer, Kelly answered the call! This didn’t come without many fears as Kelly shared, “School was not my thing” and to think of going back to the classroom, reading books, and writing papers was not something he was anxious to do . . . nor was he sure he could do it!
However, Kelly knew there is a God who can do some amazing things, so he put his trust in God and in 2011 he enrolled with Winebrenner Seminary for the Pastor’s Training Institute (PTI) course of studies. The PTI program was a 4 to 6 year course of night classes to educate and train individuals for ministry while still being employed in other occupations.
As Kelly enrolled in the PTI program, he was quick to say we have a God who can perform not only miracles of healing as He did with Kristi, but other great miracles when we commit our lives to Him as he began classes. Kelly completed his last class this year and completed the PTI program with a 3.83 grade average! (Praise the Lord, way to go Kelly!)
In an interview with Kelly, he had this to say about his schooling:
“I can’t believe how God carried me through the past six years of schooling. I never imagined I would be able to read all the books and write all the papers. But I know God helps us in many ways as I think of the words of the Apostle Paul who said, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’ (Philippians 4:13). It is that verse that has carried me through this journey in my life. It is God who gives me (us) strength to do things we never think we can do. My toughest class was Homiletics (preaching) as I often feel I am not adequate to preach God’s Word, and not surprising, the classes I enjoyed the most were Discipleship and Outreach classes. While I don’t miss the time commitment of school, I do miss the classroom discussions, and the relationships I was able to build with classmates, professors and pastors.”
- Jesus – for not only dying on the cross for my salvation, but for giving me strength, knowledge, and wisdom to follow the call to ministry;
- Kristi – for loving me, encouraging me, PUSHING me to get my homework done, editing my papers and being my best friend and by my side as a partner in marriage and ministry . . . I love you!
- Cherie (my daughter) – who gave me HUGE support with encouraging phone calls and text messages. I love the scrap book you made for me during my journey, seeking out individuals that provided encouraging notes when I felt I wasn’t good enough;
- My Family – they have always been by my side cheering me on and never doubted I would graduate;
- Pastor Wayne – for not giving up on me from the day he first met me (and couldn’t remember my name!!!);
- Pastor Ron – for being my mentor, his prayers, and helping me through the PTI program;
- For the Church Member who purchased the computer software that was such a blessing in helping me write papers for my classes . . . I still use the program today;
- The many pastors and professors who invested in teaching me great spiritual truths of pastoral ministry;
- My Church family, The Gathering Family, and many others – for all the great financial help, words of encouragement, and most of all the prayers.
Pastor Kelly will officially graduate from Winebrenner Seminary on Saturday, August 5, 2017 in Findlay, Ohio. This will certainly be an exciting day for him as he receives his diploma for years of commitment and hard work. His next step will be to meet with the Church Vocations Commission of our conference for his Ordination exam. After the exam, he will be officially ordained at the 2018 Spring Eastern Region Annual Conference. On August 27th, Pastor Kelly will be sharing a message for our church family during both worship services. Without a doubt it will be a message that will challenge each of us in our walk with Jesus.