With his walking cane firmly in hand, pastor Forrest Ivy strides intentionally into his church, a new knee still tender from replacement surgery.
Photo by Roger Alford/Kentucky Today
Forrest Ivy is a traveling preacher, driving from West Paducah, Ky., to Wingo where he serves as pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church. He doesn't allow age or health issues to stop the gospel.
A few aches and pains won’t keep this 66-year-old from preaching the gospel.
At a stage in life when most people are settling into retirement, Ivy is launching out on a whole new career as a Kentucky Baptist pastor.
“This world needs the gospel, and I’m not going to allow my age to stop me from sharing it,” Ivy said. “I’d hope no one would ever use age as an excuse for not serving Jesus. The need for pastors has never been greater than now, so, instead of quitting at Social Security age, we need to be doubling down.”
Ivy had spent his life as a long-haul trucker, crisscrossing the U.S. in an 18-wheeler, a job that allowed him ample time with his radio listening to sermons and Bible studies and sharing the gospel one-on-one in truck stops from Virginia to California.
During all that time, Ivy said the Lord seemed to be directing his steps toward pastoral ministry. He weighed all his excuses for not doing so – a bad knee, a pacemaker, high blood pressure, diabetes, his age. Then he weighed all the reasons for doing so – multitudes of lost and hurting people who need the hope of Christ. His excuses looked altogether puny in light of the great need.
Last fall, Ivy was ordained by his home congregation, Holly Hill Baptist Church in Marshall County, and he was called as pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Wingo.
Glynn Copeland, director of missions in the Graves County Baptist Association, said Ivy brought great enthusiasm into his new role.
“It’s a time of life when a lot of folks are thinking about retirement, but Forrest may be like me and make a lifetime of ministry,” said Copeland, who is 80. “I think he’s going to do Fellowship a good job.”
As Ivy, a West Paducah resident, looks back over his life, he said he regrets that he didn’t follow the call into pastoral ministry sooner. He said he has found it to be rewarding in ways he couldn’t have imagined.
Steve Rice, who leads the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s church revitalization and consulting team, said it’s “exciting to me to be reminded by Brother Forrest’s story that God has a plan for our lives from the womb to the grave.”
“Here’s a man who would have never planned or envisioned this in a thousand years,” he said, “but God’s plan was, at this age, to call him to ministry for this season of life. God often leads somewhere we would have never expected.”
Retirement after 43 years behind the wheel of a big rig has provided Ivy with the time needed to be a pastor. He has embraced his new career with a passion he had never known as a trucker.
“I will never retire from ministry,” he said. “I just can’t see turning ministry off because you reach a certain age. I want to spend every moment I have left serving Jesus.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roger Alford is editor of Kentucky Today, kentuckytoday.com, a news resource of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)