LIMA — Almost a decade after newlyweds Jeremy and Rachel Kimble first came to Lima fresh out of college to be the youth leaders at Lima Baptist Temple, they have returned. Now, Jeremy Kimble is the assistant director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Teens for Christ, a local youth ministry that has chapters not just in Lima but also throughout the United States and around the world.
“For us, this was the first place we came to as a married couple to minister,” said Jeremy Kimble.
“It’s like God brought us full circle,” said Rachel Kimble. “It felt like coming home.”
The couple left Lima Baptist Temple in 2005. During the past seven years, Jeremy Kimble has worked at several churches, as well as teaching college classes online while he received a masters of divinity and a masters of theology. He is currently finishing up his doctorate with only his dissertation standing between him and graduation.
“I pursued the Ph.D. track with the hope of teaching,” he explained. “Even while I was in college, God did a work in my own life. For me, I hoped to work with college students, teaching and mentoring them. I always thought that would be at a traditional college or seminary.”
However, God had other plans for Jeremy Kimble and his family, which includes a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Since leaving Lima, the Kimbles had stayed in contact with Buck Sutton, the director of Teens for Christ.
“Buck and I stayed connected, and I found out what they were doing with the Youth Ministry Institute,” said Jeremy Kimble. “That really peaked my interest.”
In January, the Kimbles came to Lima to stay with Sutton’s family for a few days to check out the ministry up close and personal, talking for hours with Sutton and various Teens for Christ staff members. They continued to talk throughout the winter.
In April, the Kimbles came back for a longer stay, this time for five days. During that time, they went through interviews and met with the Teens for Christ interns and all the staff. On the last day of their stay, they met with the interns at the Teens for Christ building.
“We met in the Encourager’s room and the interns prayed over us,” said Jeremy Kimble. “Then Buck offered me the position in front of everyone.”
Sutton is thrilled that Jeremy Kimble accepted the position of heading up the Youth Ministry Institute. “He’s a huge asset,” he said. “His doctorate gives us a lot of credibility with parents. I’ve known him for nine years, and he matches up with the ministry’s DNA.”
Sutton and Jeremy Kimble are hoping to take the Youth Ministry Institute to the next level. The four-year program provides not just an online college degree from Baptist Bible College in Pennsylvania, but also real ministry experience. That experience is what makes the program unique.
“The students are getting a ton of full-time ministry experience,” said Jeremy Kimble. “They work with junior high and high school students, leading and helping with chapters. They also plan events and are involved in one-on-one mentorship. That means they are mentored, and then they mentor others.”
Rachel Kimble added that real-life experience is invaluable when you are thinking of going into full-time ministry work.
“We both had a great experience at Baptist Bible College,” she said, “but you don’t get that hands-on experience, and then you get blindsided. This is not just an education but an experience. They get the hard knocks, but with support.”
Currently, the program has 12 students, but Jeremy Kimble would like to see up to 10 new students added each year until the program reaches around 50 students.
While Jeremy Kimble will be working as the associate director of the program with the goal of taking it over in a year’s time after learning all the ropes from staff member Paul Paschal, Rachel Kimble will take a more backseat role.
“I don’t have an official position,” she said. “I want to do what I can — like I’ll be mentoring the young ladies and helping with the annual appreciation banquet. I am just going to have to see how ministry fits with having little people.”
Although he only started a few weeks ago, Jeremy Kimble already sees the challenges. “It’s fast-paced — I don’t mind that,” he said. “It’s such a diversity of skill sets. I go to mentoring, and then, next I’m meeting with the team to direct the Lima Senior chapter. It’s quite broad, all the things that I do. You have to be quick on your feet. It’s challenging and fun, but I like that challenge.”
Despite the stretching he’s experiencing in this new role, Jeremy Kimble finds working at Teens for Christ rewarding, as well. “So far, in the first few weeks, seeing how people grow in holiness and godliness is beautiful.”
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