Roger Alford/Kentucky Today

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Lilly receives special Christmas gift from Chitwoods

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Sure, 6-year-old Lilly has the typical wish list for Christmas, including Barbie dolls and a dollhouse. But it was something much more meaningful that she longed for most: a family of her own. For the past three years, Lilly had been in foster care through Sunrise Children's Services, a Kentucky Baptist organization that ministers to abused and neglected kids. Her story is one that has become all too familiar to Kentucky authorities in a culture where drug addiction is rampant. As a toddler, Lilly faced tough times and was well acquainted with hunger while she was in the care of a drug-addicted birth mother.

KBC names Woods, Donnell co-interim exec. directors

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Two top assistants to outgoing Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director Paul Chitwood will serve together as interim leaders of the organization while a search committee works to find his replacement. Chitwood was selected as the new president of the International Mission Board Nov. 15. The KBC Administrative Committee appointed Curtis Woods, associate executive director for convention relations, and Jim Donnell, associate executive director for convention operations, to serve as co-interim executive directors.

Homeless man’s new life follows retiree’s compassion

CORBIN, Ky. (BP) -- A series of bad decisions had left James Price's life in shambles. He had no money, no car, no home and no hope. But a chance encounter with retired businessman Ronnie Neal is changing the trajectory of his life. Living under a bridge on the outskirts of Corbin, Ky., Price, 24, had taken a walk along a rural stretch of highway when he saw Neal loading sheet metal onto a truck. Perhaps, Price thought, that man would be willing to hire him to help. Neal, 64, saw in Price a young man who needed a hand up, and he was willing to provide it.

Man dumps retirement, launches new career in ministry

WINGO, Ky. (BP) -- With his walking cane firmly in hand, pastor Forrest Ivy strides intentionally into his church, a new knee still tender from replacement surgery. A few aches and pains won't keep this 66-year-old from preaching the Gospel. At a stage in life when most people are settling into retirement, Ivy is launching out on a whole new career as a Kentucky Baptist pastor. "This world needs the Gospel, and I'm not going to allow my age to stop me from sharing it," Ivy said. "I'd hope no one would ever use age as an excuse for not serving Jesus. The need for pastors has never been greater than now, so, instead of quitting at Social Security age, we need to be doubling down."

Man delivers pizzas to pay for wife’s master’s degree

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Jonathan Coaty has put out a lot of dough for his wife's master's degree in Christian education. Pizza dough, that is. Coaty took a second job delivering pizzas to cover the cost of tuition for his appreciative wife Jesica, a first-grade teacher at Beth Haven Christian School in Louisville. She is seeking her degree from nearby Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "My husband is more passionate about Christian education than most Christian educators," Jesica said, fighting back tears as she talked about his sacrifice. "He has invested long hours in my degree. By the time I finish in December, he will have delivered nearly 7,000 pizzas."

Half the man he used to be: Pastor drops 240 pounds

GLASGOW, Ky. (BP) -- There's a good reason for the spring in Jeremy Atwood's step. The Glasgow, Ky., pastor has lost 240 pounds over the past two years on a quest to restore his physical and spiritual health. For Atwood, food had become a vice that was sapping his energy and hindering his ministry. Years of unchecked eating had brought him to the brink of 500 pounds. "I was a fast food junkie," he said. "I mean, I was truly addicted." Atwood, 37, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, isn't alone in his struggle with food. Studies have shown that one of every three Kentuckians is considered obese. And pastors are especially prone.

Kidney donation reflects church’s family environment

OWENSBORO, Ky. (BP) -- Nikki Koonce took the biblical admonition about being generous to a new level on Tuesday (Nov. 28) when she gave one of her kidneys to a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. Allen Miller had been dealing with kidney disease for a decade and renal failure for the past two years. Dialysis had become an unwelcome fact of life. Though not blood relatives, Nikki and Allen both attend Life Community Church in Owensboro, Ky., a tightknit group of believers who see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. So, when members of the church family found out Allen needed a kidney transplant, they lined up to see if any of them would be a match.

Mass baptism displays rural church’s turnaround

HYDEN, Ky. (BP) -- Not so long ago, Rockhouse Baptist Church was floundering. The congregation in Hyden, Ky., had dwindled to about 25 people. Some wondered how much longer they could keep the doors open. Then pastor Tyler Shields moved into town, bringing with him a passion for introducing others to Christ. And Rockhouse experienced a dramatic turnaround.

Appalachia: Preachers ‘doing what Jesus would do’

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (BP) -- Some people come to Appalachia to test their mettle in mountain climbing or bear hunting. Lifelong friends C.B. Scott and Tim Searcy came for a different kind of challenge. The Southern Baptist preachers arrived in the mountain region to offer help and hope in communities where a collapsed coal economy has spawned widespread unemployment, poverty, and rampant substance abuse. Now in their 60s, both men have spent their lives in ministry and academic roles ...

Survey weighs value of Bapt. associations

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Most church leaders believe their financial contributions to local Baptist associations are "a good kingdom investment" while others are struggling to see their relevancy, according to findings from a national survey released Monday (July 31). "When asked to describe the most exciting aspect of their local Baptist association, the most popular answer among church leaders was 'nothing,'" said Jason Lowe, a Kentucky director of missions who led the study that looked into attitudes about the work of local Baptist associations.