Let’s save Kentucky Missions

All About Ben

By Ben Robinson

Ben Robinson

Ben Robinson

It happened Sunday night. I was at church for a meeting preparing for Vacation Bible School this summer. I just had to listen, agree to do whatever I could to help, and smile a lot.

Before I went into the meeting, I was stopped by Wilburn Pitts. I grew up with Wilburn’s son, Teddy. Since then I have had several opportunities to work with Wilburn myself. His sense of humor makes some think he never takes himself seriously, but I’ve come to know that Wilburn is one of the most dedicated friends any person could have. That night he was at the church preparing for the upcoming Easter production by our choir.

“Did I tell you about Kentucky Missions?” Wilburn asked.

I figured that Wilburn had heard of a theme being adopted.

“What?” I said.

“They’re not going this year,” Wilburn said. “They hope to go next year if there is any interest, but right now it’s all been canceled.”

I could not believe him. Kentucky Missions started in the 1960s, when Bobby Haley led a youth group from Spartanberg to Bell County, Ken. I was lucky enough to become involved when Bobby was at Pickens First Baptist, and our church — Nine Forks Baptist — sent some youth with him for the trip because it had grown too big for the church to handle. We produced Bible School packages for nine different Bell County churches and one park site.

The thing that attracted me so much to the trip was that I found that I had a gift for working with children. I really had not worked with children before, but I soon found the children loved me. So I went again the next year. And the next year, and the next year, and so on.

Eventually the trip became too big, with too many workers for one church to take responsibility. So it became a project of the Pickens-Twelve Mile Baptist Association.

Three years ago, my work had a special project planned for the summer, and I decided that it would be wise for me, in my leadership role, to forego the pleasures of Kentucky and make sure that project went well.

The next summer I had lost my job and was unable to go, and the following summer I was still out of work, so I did not go on the trip. The next summer, I was still trying to put my life together, so I missed the trip for the fourth straight year.

This year I have a job working for The Courier, so I was ready to go to Kentucky again.

Now they’re not going to have a Kentucky Mission trip.


The reason they had to cancel the trip was because as time went on it became more and more difficult to get leadership for the trip. Bobby had long since retired, and several years ago two young men were made leaders of the group.

But both had commitments this year, and apparently they had nobody willing to take the responsibility.

I think back to the reasons for me missing the trip four straight years, and in hindsight I wonder why. The special section we put together three years ago probably would have gone to press with or without me.

I remember all of the children I worked with over the years, all the laughter we shared. And I just did not go back.

So when I try to blame somebody for there not being a Kentucky Missions trip this year, maybe I just need to look into a mirror. Sure I was not key to the trip, but I certainly did not set a good example by putting so many other things ahead of the trip on my own priority list.

My friends in Kentucky deserve better, and I apologize. But as I understand it, God often gives you a second chance to make thing right.

I need help here. If you are interested in Kentucky Missions, send me an e-mail at We may not be able to put anything together for this summer, but if we can by next summer, Kentucky Missions will have a chance to continue.