Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” Pastor Steve Curtis was identified by all who knew him as a man who won souls for Christ, having served as pastor of Providence Baptist Church, a rural congregation outside of Franklin, Ky., for 36 years. Curtis, who went to be with Jesus on Dec. 6, 2018, left a legacy as a caring husband, a great Dad to three children, a good friend to many, and a man who was on mission with Jesus as a winner of souls.
According to Wilbur Powell, associational mission strategist of the Simpson Baptist Association in Franklin, Curtis led the church to baptize 1,138 people during the 36 years he served as pastor and led the association for 26 of his 36 years there. Under Pastor Curtis’ leadership the church grew from 35 Sunday morning worshipers to 250.
Seventy-eight percent of those who joined the church did so upon their profession of faith in Jesus following in believer’s baptism. Powell said, “When you consider that the church is eight or nine miles out in the country, those numbers are staggering.”
Tommy Johnson, who serves at regional campus minister for Kentucky Baptists in the Bowling Green area, was given his first ministry position under Curtis. Johnson shared, “Pastor Steve had so many creative ideas and innovative ways to fill the church to hear the gospel. You could count on him to take a clear stand for what is right in the community, and he had a shepherd’s heart for his congregation.”
Johnson also referenced Curtis’ spiritual influence on his own his family. He said, “I have had the opportunity to work closely with two of Pastor Steve’s children, J.T. and Jenna, through their extensive involvement in Baptist Campus Ministry. It is evident that they share the same love for and commitment to scripture, the Gospel, missions, ministry, and integrity that they witnessed in their father.”
Jerry Gifford, a local pastor and close friend of Pastor Curtis, spoke about his evangelistic zeal. He said, “Steve and I have been close friends for about 12 years and collaborated on a number of evangelistic projects. Steve and I partnered on national outreach like World Changers team, local evangelism like wild game dinners, and international missions to Haiti. Two of his children have travelled with me to Haiti.”
Pastor Gifford shared the following account that gives a glimpse into Curtis’ priorities: “The first summer after my arrival in Franklin, I convinced Steve and his wife, Nancy, to join my wife and me in leading a World Changer’s group in Cleveland, Ohio. We loaded all our youth and made the trip where each of us served as a team leader. Each leader was to take his or her team to a site in Cleveland and paint an older two-story house.
“My team finished early on the fourth day, and I decided to go help Steve get his finished,” Gifford continued. “When we arrived at his house, I noticed that no one on his team had painted on the second story. The bottom of the house had a fresh coat of purple paint, and the second story was still a dingy white. So, Steve asked me if we had anyone who could paint from a ladder. We had only one–me! I told Steve I would paint the entire second story, but he had to hold my ladder. Up I go to begin painting. After a short time, I looked down and noticed that Steve was gone, and no one was holding the ladder.
“As we were finishing our work day, Steve came walking down the sidewalk and wanted to tell me a story. He had left to go witnessing,” Gifford recalled. “A few blocks from the work site, he met a retired World War II veteran and thanked him for his service. Steve then asked the 80-plus year-old soldier about eternity. When the veteran expressed uncertainty, Steve told him the story of Jesus and led the man to faith in Jesus right there on the sidewalk.”
Pastor Steve Curtis was one of the great evangelistic leaders in Kentucky. He will be missed. Please pray for his family and Providence Baptist Church as they grieve his passing. Pray also that the Lord will raise up a thousand more pastors just like him to help Kentucky Baptist churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.