Bro. Kenny Southerland
My name is Reverend James Kenneth Southerland, but everyone knows me as Kenny or Brother Kenny.
I was not the typical church kid who learned everything about God from an early age. In fact, my family was what you could call the holiday family. We went to church only when there was a holiday or when some special event was taking place.
My parents divorced when I was about 10 when my mother went to prison. I lived my father who was an alcoholic and introduced me to drinking at an early age. By the time I was 17, my mother was in prison for the second time so I dropped out of school to work and raise my little sister for a about a year to keep her away from my father.
To escape the realities of life I turned to alcohol and drugs. At the end of my rope I found myself addicted to speed and working in a bar for a place to live. I married a young lady for all the wrong reasons and was divorced just as quick as we were married after she decided she wanted more than I could offer her.
In 1989, I meet my now wife and was really introduced to the Lord for the first time. At this time I was drinking and smoking about two packs of cigarettes a day, but this woman I know God placed in my life and God Himself, helped me rid myself of the addictions. After being married and going to church for a few months, I began to ask questions about what’s going to happen in the next life. My wife really didn’t have an answer to satisfy my curiosity, so I started reading the Bible. The book I chose to read was Romans.
After spending time reading what Paul had to say about the sin we battle against and that the flesh is weak to defeat it. I was drawn to what Paul had to say about being free from sin through Christ and my heart began to feel what I call remorse.
For the next few weeks I battled with the thought of being separated from God and separated from the life I had come to love in sin. I called my then pastor, Rev. F.E. Sellers to speak with Him about my battles and with prayer, confession, and reconciliation, I found the Lord on August 14, 1990 at 9:45 in the morning.
I would not say that life was easy at first. I still had battles and my own demons to fight and this battle would last for the next 15 years. As grew in the Lord, I began to get more involved with the church and the activities around her. I began feeling God calling me to something deeper. June 1993 I went on my first mission trip to Belize, Central America just trying to fill the void that I felt existed in my heart.
In 1995, I felt God was calling me to preach, but I decided that it was not what I wanted. I drove trucks for a living so I decided it was time to run and when I felt I was getting closer to God, I would always climb back into the cab and run until I felt the closeness of God subside. July 2002 I had a knee injury which caused me to lose the job I had been using to run from God and after two knee surgeries God finally got my attention.
February 2005, I was demanding that God tell me why I had to endure all I was going through, to which His reply to me was He had to get my attention somehow. He did not cause the injuries, but He was going to use them for His benefit. As I laid down that night I confessed to God my running as well as my lack of effort in following Him and asked for Him to cleanse me completely of the desire to have things my way and help me fully surrender to Him. I told God I would do what it was He wanted me to do and it felt like someone had lifted a Mack truck off of my chest, I was finally able to truly breathe.
Fall of 2005 I enrolled in school and began working on my youth ministry degree which lasted for about two years before God called me to pastoral ministry. In 2007 Wesley College became my guiding light, as I truly found my desire to preach Gods word. I have always been afraid to stand before others and talk, but God told me to allow Him to speak through me and since that day, all I want to do is share the Love of God with others. I find that sharing the word is a passion, not a career, which God has placed in my heart and it is through this passion that I make friends with others. Through these friendships I am able to gain access to share the God I have come to know and call my friend with others.
Upon graduating from Wesley College I served as Pastor of Riverside Independent Methodist Church in Flowood MS for two years until after much prayer and searching for Gods desire felt it was time to leave. Since leaving God has deepened my desire to reach the lost in the Brandon-Pearl area.