Editors Note: Kathy is GAP’s newest staff member and here she tells the story of how she joined the GAP family.
My road to serving at God’s Appalachian Partnership (GAP) has been a bumpy one with a lot of twists and turns.
My road to serving at God’s Appalachian Partnership (GAP) has been a bumpy one with a lot of twists and turns. I grew up in an abusive home where I lived in fear and never felt like I was loved.I was a very lonely child. The only Godly example in my life was my grandmother who I didn’t get to see much because she lived so far away. When I did see her she would always tell me about Jesus and take me to church. I learned that church was a safe place for me and I would go every chance I could get. When I was twelve I was saved, but I wasn’t discipled. I knew something life changing took place in my life that night, but didn’t understand what.
My dad was killed in a car accident when I was 13. It was a very traumatic for me. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I started running with the wrong crowd and did things that I knew were wrong. I didn’t trust people and I didn’t know how to love people or let them love me. I wouldn’t let anyone get close to me. I married at 21 and we were married 14 years before we divorced.
I met Connie Padgett at work. She took an interest in me and invited me to her church, but I wanted nothing to do with her. I tried to push her away because I thought she would be like everyone else and hurt me too. However she persisted. She would try to talk to me, but I had nothing to say to her. She never gave up on me and I finally went to church with her.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, it was a divine appointment from God. I started going to church there and got my life right with God. I began studying the Bible and God taught me that He would never leave me nor forsake me, that I was fearfully and wonderfully made and that He loved me no matter what. For the first time in my life I felt a love like no other.
My life hasn’t been the same because someone took an interest in me and shared God’s love for me. To this day Connie remains my best friend and I thank God for her. I’m thankful that she never gave up on me. Her family took me in, accepted and loved me for me. They showed me what family was about. They truly love the Lord.
I was at Freedom Baptist Church for fifteen years. I went on several in-state mission trips as well as five trips to Haiti and once to Belize. My heart’s desire is missions. I have always been interested in missions since I was in Girls in Action (GAs) but I always thought you had to be rich to be a missionary, little did I know.
I was at the hospital with a friend and was going to the cafeteria to get us something to drink but found that it was closed. I went into the gift shop to look around. There was a volunteer working in the gift shop and we started talking about missions. She shared about how her church was involved with GAP in Eastern Kentucky. That was a region that I had always been interested in. The lady told me about a woman named Joan Mann, from her church who was going to be going to GAP in a week. She told me to give her a call if I wanted to ride along and gave me a phone number.
I called Joan and asked if I could tag along on her trip and she said “yes”. I was excited though I didn’t know this lady at all and had no idea what God was up to. Because of this adventure everybody says I got to the GAP by hitchhiking.
While I was there I met GAP’s founders, Lynn and Angie Wagoner, for the first time. I was really touched but I saw that day. I told Angie the only way I would give into missions if I was to loose my job. We had that conversation in August 2009 and in February 2010 I lost my job and it confirmed God was calling me to missions and to serve at GAP.
But I ran away from that call as fast as I could; it scared me. I have always been self sufficient but God wanted me to give Him total control, but I said, “No”. That was the most miserable time in my life. I got my job back and was still miserable. I was sitting at work praying, asking God what to do and His answer was “quit running from me and run to me”. I went to bathroom and had a melt down and told God I would go wherever He sent me.
Throughout this experience I hadn’t told anyone about my plans but I knew it was time to let others know. When I did finally tell Connie, she said she already knew that God was going to send me to the mission field one day. I then told my associate pastor and then I told my church family.
I completely surrendered my life to missions. All God asked me to do was step out in faith and He would take care of the rest. Though I didn’t feel like I was qualified to do anything I asked Angie to send me an application to serve at GAP.
I gave my notice on a Monday in October, a week before I moved, and that evening the company told us we would be closing for good in December. If I had stayed until then I would have received a severance package, but I knew I couldn’t because I had already told my co-workers that God would take care of me and He had more money and was bigger than Red Wing Shoes. So I didn’t take it. I wasn’t suppose to get any money from them. However, a couple of months after I had moved to McDowell, I went to check my mail and there it was, a severance check.
God has opened up doors for me and is taking care of all my needs, just like He promised He would. He has done so many things and I don’t deserve any of it. I thank God for His grace and mercy, His faithfulness and for giving me the opportunity to share the gospel and lead people to the Lord. I thank God for the GAP and I’m excited to see that He is working in lives here. God is good!