By Anna Swindle
He has a passion for door-to-door evangelism. She loves working with children and music. Together, Buddy and Emily Kirk make a dynamic missions duo, and that’s why they were honored as this year’s Outstanding Mission Volunteers on Nov. 17 at the Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting.
“It’s refreshing as a pastor to not have to constantly be keeping missions at the forefront of people’s minds, because I have lay people who are doing it,” said Tommy Winders, pastor of Carrollton Baptist Church, the Kirks’ home church. “I don’t feel the pressure to be looking for this and that, because I have people like Buddy and Emily making sure we don’t miss out on missions opportunities.”
That is an understatement. The Kirks have been on 18 missions trips — both international and domestic — over the past 10 years. Their first trip was an eye-opener.
“You could see the lostness in the area among the Indians and other people out there,” Buddy Kirk said of the Navajo reservation in Utah. “We thought, ‘Someone needs to be out there helping to spread the gospel,’ and we just saw that there was so much need in the world.”
Since he retired in January, he and his wife have been able to travel even more. In fact, they already have at least three trips on their 2010 agenda.
“We have so much fun sharing stories with [children] and playing games with them,” Emily Kirk said. “It is a joy to see their bright eyes so interested in learning everything they can about Jesus.”
Although choosing a favorite trip is difficult since the experiences differ so greatly, both of the Kirks named Ukraine and Brazil as their most memorable.
In Ukraine, they made an unscheduled visit to an orphanage, where 31 of the children, along with the director, ended up accepting Christ. In Brazil, the Kirks saw more people saved than on any of their other trips.
“We’re very interested in going back to Brazil,” he said. “We’ve been three times and we really love it, because the people there are so open and receptive to the Word.”
But the Kirks don’t have to go as far as Europe or South America to find people to share Jesus with through service.
About three years ago, the couple started A Great Day of Service as a way to reach out to the needy and elderly in Carrollton by doing yard work and other tasks for them.
The Kirks are a mainstay at churchwide outreaches, too.
“In our county, we do block parties and rarely do we do one that Buddy and Emily aren’t there and involved in (it),” Winders said. “[Buddy] does shotgun witnessing, where he goes around engaging people in conversation, and when he can, he shares the gospel with them.”
Since becoming involved in missions trips a decade ago, the Kirks have become strong leaders in Pickens Baptist Association, said Director of Missions Gary Farley.
“They just have a real passion for evangelism and reaching the lost and loving people,” he said.
That’s why Farley and Winders, along with others who know the Kirks, nominated the couple for volunteers of the year.
For the Kirks, being a part of missions is something they feel led to do, and it’s helped them to realize their role in God’s plan.
“We’re just focused on what God has for us and what we believe God has called us to do,” Buddy Kirk said.
“I think it’s given us a keener vision for what God’s real purpose is for redeeming a lost world and how we can help with it.”
Editor’s Note — This story first appeared in The Alabama Baptist newspaper (www.thealabamabaptist.org).