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I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 1 Corinthians 15:3 NLT
No one invested in Kelly in a positive way, until a wrestling coach saw through the destructive way Kelly acted out. He saw a guy with talent, a quick wit, and a tender heart. Kelly was a good athlete and the team needed him, so the coach had extra motivation.
Kelly was kicked out of school several times for fighting which kept him on the border line of being a drop out. Kelly was raised by his dad and my granny. Kelly’s Dad worked hard but then spent a lot of time at the bar after work.
Sometimes, Kelly made progress. Other times, he stayed on the fringes. Consistency wasn’t his strong suit. Kelly had as many losses as wins on his record not just in athletics but in life, but he kept showing up. During this time the wrestling coach was as consistent as Kelly was inconsistent. He invested in Kelly repeatedly and made multiple invitations for Kelly to attend his church.
Kelly eventually said yes. This guy wasn’t put off by the bravado coming from Kelly’s words. He saw through the act. He knew what Kelly really needed was a relationship with His heavenly Father. He needed to find his way back to God, but he also needed positive role models.
Once Kelly accepted the invitation to church and to a couple of campus organizations he met a whole new group of students. Through the influence of these key people who took an interest
in him and a set of circumstances that only the Holy Spirit could arrange, Kelly reached out to Jesus.
The change was dramatic. Kelly knew real love for the first time. He quickly found freedom from shame, drugs, and alcohol. His relationships improved. Kelly felt hope for the first time in a long time.
Kelly married Polly, a cheerleader and one of the co-eds in the group. Kelly explored the scriptures. He found a good church. He discovered he was a leader and a gifted one at that! He started reaching out to others like a few men reached out to him. His story connected with others, and before long Kelly was leading others to find the life he found in Jesus. And in the process Kelly was becoming more and more like Jesus.
Today Kelly is a dynamic pastor who started a church House of Joy from a very small group in Valdosta, GA. The fledgling church has grown to 300 plus in five short years and shows no signs of slowing down. You would never guess that would have been his future had you met Kelly in his teen years! If you’d told Kelly what the future held for him he would have laughed at the idea.
God gave Kelly spiritual gifts that are divine graces. In other words, he didn’t earn or deserve them. When Kelly answered the invitation of Jesus to follow Him, the gifts came alive inside him. Kelly’s story drew others to Christ. Lives were impacted, and destinies were changed.
You too can experience the life changing power of Jesus. He invites you to join Him in sharing your redemption story. You are gifted by God and you are called to invest in others.