Joe Kelly Jr. placed his faith in Christ while he was in prison. If you ever ask him he will tell you that he has a very "seedy" past life. Shortly prior to his release his wife moved in with Joe's parents who live in our area and attended our church. (New Covenant Grace Fellowship) As a result one of our members took it upon himself to begin faithfully writing Joe. Thus a neat relationship between our group and him developed. Many of us spent a lot of time praying for our incarcerated, adopted brother.
Upon Joe's release one of the first things he did was to attend our Wednesday night church meeting. Back in the day, we had a pot luck dinner prior to each Wednesday meeting. I remember well when Joe walked in the fellowship hall's door. Someone yelled out, "Joe Kelly is in the house!" Then everyone gave him a standing ovation.
Joe's hunger for God was outstanding. He soaked up teaching like a sponge. You could see him grow in his understanding of the Lord, and it was exciting to all. Joe attended services very faithfully. When we moved into the revelations of new covenant grace he gladly embraced the teaching. Even though he often had questions, he was quick to implement the teachings into his personal life. Joe soon became an Elder in our congregation and began teaching. Over the past couple of years, he's been a reliable teacher on Sundays, doing an awesome job filling in for me as I went through my health issues.
Joe has always had my back! I can count on him. He's a faithful brother and I consider him a close friend.
However, lately Joe is missing a lot of our church meetings. I miss him when he's gone, but I know that he is doing a good thing. Joe has been a stock car race fan all of his life. In the midst of his racing passion he developed a relationship with the staff and owner of a local dirt race track. He also met up with an elderly Chaplain who ministered to race drivers through Racing With Jesus Ministries. Soon Joe was also made a Chaplin with the ministry. His relationship with the local track officials also grew and soon he was doing race announcing duties. Since, Joe's ministry and announcing has expanded to race tracks all over the Southeast states.
As a result of Joe's racing duties he often misses our Sunday morning services. The other day he texted me that he would be missing several January and February services. When he is gone I really miss him and so does everyone else in our church. Yet, in spite of missing him, we are all excited because Joe is fulfilling his calling and ministry.
You see Joe is a prime example of the vision of our church being fulfilled. We are a small church. We are a rather new church, just a few years old. So, when even one person is missing from a service we all feel the loss. But Joe is actually doing what one of the main callings of our ministry really is......sending out ministry! Our vision is to raise people up to do the work of the ministry, not just capture and contain them. We are a sending church not a capturing church.
A capturing church might say, "Come join me and help me build my ministry!" A releasing church will say, "Come join me so that I can teach you and help you develop your ministry!" A huge difference here!
After one of Joe's weekend ministry trips I look forward to our early Monday morning phone calls when he fills me in on his weekend's racing activity. Yes, when he's gone I miss him, but I'm also so very proud of Joe Kelly Jr. I pray that God sends us a bunch of people just like him! Glory!
Grace and peace!