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Tragedy derailed her marriage but not her heart for ministry

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–It was the summer of 2002, and life seemed to be working out perfectly for Andrea Hurdle.

A recent graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Hurdle planned to marry her fiancé Kevin Todd in July and travel with him to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he would begin studying in the fall of 2003.

Todd had been diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer several years earlier, but with regular treatments, doctors expected the Mississippi native to carry out his call to pastoral ministry for many years.

Then tragedy struck three weeks before the wedding as Hurdle and Todd visited relatives in Alabama. Todd went into cardiac arrest due to an undetected heart condition and died after a week in intensive care.

“We were so close to being married that I almost felt like a widow,” Hurdle said. “I knew God had led me to him, and I knew He had led him to me…. But I know that God’s plan is much better than my plan, that He’s in control and He’s sovereign.”

Still, Todd’s death was difficult for her to accept because of his obvious passion to impact lives for the Kingdom of God, Hurdle said, mentioning how his potential was apparent through his work teaching an adult Sunday School class and engaging in personal evangelism.

“A lot of people saw his testimony and faith through [his battle with cancer] because through everything that he had to deal with, he never let it get him down,” she said. “… His faith was just strong, and I think everyone could see that.”

As Hurdle searched for a way to honor Todd, God turned her mind to Southern Seminary.

“I began praying for a way to honor Kevin but to also glorify God and show Kevin’s passion for Christ.” Hurdle said the idea soon came to mind to call Southern Seminary.

After conferring with seminary administrators, Hurdle established the Kevin M. Todd Memorial Scholarship Fund to assist men from Mississippi who are studying for the pastorate at Southern.

“We decided that we were going to start a scholarship fund … because of all the lives that could be touched,” Hurdle said.

The scholarship was funded by donations from Todd’s friends and family and by proceeds from a series of benefit concerts Hurdle organized. Beginning in 2006 the scholarship will be awarded annually to a student or students from Mississippi studying for the pastorate at Southern Seminary.

Russell D. Moore, Southern’s senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the school of theology, himself a Mississippi native, noted that the scholarship will fuel “the passion of a young pastor who will proclaim to thousands, maybe millions, the Gospel of the Kingdom.”

Hurdle, who now lives in Nashville, Tenn., and works for LifeWay Christian Resources, says dealing with such difficult circumstances enabled her to minister to others experiencing trials.

“My passion right now is to encourage those people who are going through hard times and just let them know that there’s hope,” she said. “But the only way they can find hope is through Jesus Christ and just to put all their trust in Him because He’s the only one that’s going to help them come out of that.”

Hurdle particularly draws comfort from Romans 11:33-36, which speaks of the depth and the riches of God’s plan, she said.

“I think it’s so important right after something happens to you in your life that you just give all the glory to Him,” she said. “He’s going to show you the way and no one else can.”