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Yokefellow with Down syndrome ministers to shut-ins

HERMITAGE, Tenn. (BP) — Mike Kinle and pastor David Taft visit shut-ins for First Baptist Church every Monday afternoon.

Kinle always reads the Scripture he has chosen for the people they are visiting. He also leads the prayer, including for prayer requests learned of during the visit.

Kinle may not take the lead in the conversations, but he listens and prepares to pray. A good time is had by all if measured by the smiles which appear, hugs exchanged and conversation.

Folks who are visited by the pastor and his sidekick often attend Kinle’s Sunday School class at First Baptist, which is for folks who have special needs. Kinle, 47, was born with Down syndrome. Some other members of the Sunday School class, named the Faithful Friends Class, have special needs which cannot be medically diagnosed, explained Taft. Some are simply vulnerable individuals who are not very educated by modern standards, he noted.

Kinle said he enjoys visiting folks with Taft each week as a yokefellow of the church, even though some of the people they visit have problems that can make relating to them a challenge. As a yokefellow, Kinle works under the supervision of the deacons to help accomplish various ministry assignments for the church.

“I go because I’ve got God’s love in my heart,” Kinle said of his weekly visits. “They listen to me. They listen with their heart.”

Referring to a member of the church he visits regularly, Kinle said, “I understand him…. He’s my friend. He’s a very nice man in his own way.

“The truth is I know it’s a big responsibility,” Kinle said. “I’m ready to take on a lot of responsibility.”

Kinle, who has been an active member of First Baptist for many years, has also been prayer leader of his Sunday School class.

Kinle, who made a profession of faith six years ago, was ordained as a yokefellow of First Baptist last year and serves with five other yokefellows who assist the church. Kinle’s mother, Pearl, transports her son to the church to meet Taft each week since Kinle doesn’t drive.

Kinle said he learned about yokefellows years ago in Sunday School. And not long before the church asked him to serve as a yokefellow, he dreamed about being named one.

Kinle, who also regularly leads prayer during Sunday morning worship services at the church, prays on his own during the week for those he visits on Monday and for their prayer requests. He wishes more people would pray more, commenting that he thinks people are actually scared of praying.

“I have love in my heart for other people. I care for other people…. I love visiting with Brother Taft,” he said.

Taft noted, “As a yokefellow Mike has a way to express the joy that he has received from God. This has given him a zeal to serve every single week and that has been an example to others.”