Pictured above is Kevin West, who is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church Ville Platte, as he stands inside the church’s sanctuary. He explained his satisfaction of spreading the word of God to his congregation. (Photo courtesy of Kevin West)
West celebrates 20 years as pastor
Kevin West is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church Ville Platte and recently shared how he continues to be a religious leader and what he does to help out the church.
Question: When did you become a pastor?
Answer: I responded to God’s “call” into ministry in 1998 while I was serving as a music minister and was ordained a deacon at Trinity Baptist Church in Turkey Creek. It was then in 2003 at First Baptist Pine Prairie that I was licensed into the Gospel ministry, and it was in 2004 when I was ordained into the Gospel ministry. In March 2004, First Baptist Church Ville Platte invited me to be its Senior Pastor, and here is where I have served as Pastor for 14 years.
Question: What made you decide to become a pastor?
Answer: At the young age of seven-years-old, I knew for certain that God had “the call” on my life to be a preacher/pastor. “The call” is the confirmation by the Holy Spirit of God’s anointing to fulfill a ministry in His plan. As I grew, I absolutely loved hearing great preaching, and I was fascinated how the messages were so powerful. I had this insatiable desire for more of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit powerfully moved in my life to bring God’s Word to my understanding with clarity. I could grasp the deeper spiritual meaning of a text even at a young age.
Yet, even with this hunger for God’s Word, my love for dynamic preaching and compassion for ministry to others, my fear of being in front of others kept me stifled. My fears kept me sitting in the back of the room, avoiding recognition, “flying below the radar” in social places. I simply did not want to cause any ripples in the pond of life.
Well, pastoring and preaching is not about causing ripples. It is more like impacting others with a splash, and I was too fearful of that type of life. So, I avoided “God’s call” and chose another path. My choice to ignore the Call of God led me to areas of life where I learned many difficult, but valuable life lessons that helped shape my character…with a few scars to go along. Even though each experience brought lessons and some hurts, I was better equipped to meet people wherever they are in life and lead them where God wants them to be.
Vocationally, God allowed me to grow out of my people fears by leading me into education. Upon achieving my bachelor’s degree in Vocational Agriculture Education, I taught school for 10 years at Pine Prairie High School. These years were enjoyable and valuable in growing me to overcome my fears of speaking before a group.
Along the journey as a teacher, I had the wonderful opportunity to serve as the Student Pastor at First Baptist Church Pine Prairie for five years. It was in this position that I learned so much about people and ministry. Reflecting over these growth experiences, only better prepared me for the role of Senior Pastor.
In 2003, the “Call of God” to pastor was stronger than ever. The following March 2004, First Baptist Church Ville Platte invited me to be their Senior Pastor. It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. For the past 14 years, my family and I have been a part of the fantastic ministry God is doing in people’s lives.
Question: What do you get, spiritually, from being a leader at First Baptist Church Ville Platte? What do you enjoy about leading the congregation there?
Answer: The greatest spiritual blessing I receive as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Ville Platte is knowing beyond any doubt that I am doing exactly what God created me to do ,and God has placed me where He wants me to fulfill His purpose to bring His honor. God has an amazing purpose for First Baptist Church Ville Platte, and God is allowing this once shy, quiet, and timid country boy to be its leader.
It’s exciting to see lives transformed, marriages saved, families strengthened, and souls saved for Christ Jesus. There are many enjoyable aspects about leading First Baptist Church Ville Platte. The people are simply amazing! They love God and others and demonstrate that in many ways.
We like to try new things in worship, ministry, and service. We are constantly learning and growing in our relationship with Christ Jesus and with our relationships with one another.
Simply put, we enjoy “doing life together” as brothers and sisters in Christ. I often tell my congregation that “we are all in this together.” Meaning, that we are all learning together, and no one has arrived at perfection. We will make mistakes, but we learn and grow from those life lessons.
On a lighter note, being in South Central Louisiana, where Cajun culture is prominent, our people have a love to laugh and have fun. Like a family, the fun and laughter are a part of the culture of our church. It eases the day’s stress and tensions when friends can come together and laugh. “A joyful heart is good medicine…” (Proverbs 17:22 NASB)
Question: What kind of impact do you try to impart on your congregations as their leader?
Answer: My desire is to impact my congregation to be Holy Spirit-filled believers who are living on a mission every day wherever God has placed them to be His light to a hurting and broken world who needs hope.
Question: What are some of the issues you see today among your congregations — what are people’s worries and concerns?
Answer: The issues that face the rest of the world also touch the church. We have families who must work through losses, tragedies, joblessness, wayward children, marriage problems, divorce, blended families, alcohol abuse, and addictions of all forms. We are real people, with real problems, living in a real world…seeking help, hope, and healing. The answer to these issues is for Christ Jesus to truly be Lord over their lives and for each person to surrender these concerns over to Him.
As a church, we began a Celebrate Recovery ministry on Friday nights at 6:00 p.m. Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered ministry to help a person through a process of releasing their hurts, habits and hang ups to God. First Baptist Church Ville Platte is invested in helping to bring an avenue of healing to many who’ve lost hope because of life experiences.
Question: What are some of the ways you are addressing world issues with your congregation?
Answer: The way I approach world issues is straight from God’s Word. The Bible lays out commands, principles, teachings and valuable lessons we can learn to navigate through many current events. The Bible doesn’t give all of the direct answers, yet the Bible does provide the guidance to help evaluate events and situations.
The Scripture gives us words of comfort when life is unfair and there are no answers to the question of “Why?” when a tragedy occurs. We also pray about world issues that are occurring. We seek God for discernment to guide us through the matters. God hears our prayers of faith and intervenes and intercedes in our behalf.
Prayer changes our situation or changes us to where God wants us to be. There are some world concerns that require a server of sermons on teachings to help the congregation be better equipped to process and learn how to walk by faith through the challenge they are facing.