When getting to know someone as an adult, it’s unusual to ask them how they became the person they are today. At least, it’s not one of the first questions you ask. But for every person, their history is what makes them who they are today.
Kevin Sowards, a Topeka local and an active member at Rock Creek Bible Church, is a perfect example. His story is one that clearly points to a God who rescued him, and the people God used to help do the rescuing.
Kevin graduated from high school in 1978 and went straight to work driving a forklift and delivery trucks for Topeka Lumber. He was promoted to yard supervisor in 1990, married his sweetheart Kim in 1995, and in 1996 he was named the branch manager of Schmidt Builders Supply in Lawrence. In 1998 the Sowards family was completed with the addition of twin daughters, and in 1999 they built their dream home next to Perry State Park.
He had the career, the bride, the kids and the home. But he didn’t have everything. There were still a few things that were keeping him from having the life he knew God wanted for him.
“Through my twenties I struggled with substance abuse and it took its toll on my life. I felt defeated and thought that no one cared for me. In 1990 I called out for help and didn’t hear an audible response, but in the decade following I could see God’s hand at work in my life,” Kevin said.
Within a few years of calling out to God for help, Kevin met and married Kim.
“That was a step closer to understanding what God’s plan was,” Kevin said abut meeting Kim.
The blessing of twin daughters in 1998 was the next foundational change in Kevin’s life, and an excellent motivator from God.
“Through their birth God gave me the strength to overcome my substance struggles. I grew up in an alcoholic home and I didn’t want them to go through those issues.”
By the time the twins were born Kim and Kevin started attending church regularly. Kevin said this wasn’t as much out of his own desire, but more out of wanting what was best for their daughters. Luckily, God used this time with His people to continue building the strong foundation of Kevin’s faith, and his desire to continue growing for God.
They moved their membership to Rock Creek a few years later, and in 2011 Schmidts Builder Supply shut down, leaving the Sowards with a big life style and no job.
“The six months without a job in 2011 were tough,” Kevin said. “But in my spiritual development it was the best time. I felt as though I let my family down by not giving them the things I had given them before. I had designed and built our home and had planned on living there the rest of our lives, but I didn’t have the resources to keep it. I had a plan for my life and it didn’t work out that way. It taught me that I had to have total dependence on Christ. Only He can provide what I need.”
God did provide. It made for a different life in a different career, and it meant a move back to Topeka, but this was just one more example of God answering Kevin’s cry for help and direction.
Since the move back to Topeka the Sowards have found themselves more and more connected to work that God has planned for them. In addition to great work within the walls of Rock Creek Bible Church, Kevin has been committed to weekly work in a mentor group at the Topeka Rescue Mission since 2018, and in 2019 he committed to a partnership with “Man in the Mirror”, a resource that helps churches disciple the men within their own walls.
“It’s been a real learning experience,” Kevin said about his involvement in this new ministry. “I don’t like public speaking at all. In high school, I wouldn’t answer questions out loud even when I knew the answers. In a way, I still don’t want the attention on me. But I want to point people to Christ.”
Looking back now, he can see that God has always had a hand in his walk.
“There were always voices around me growing up,” Kevin said. “Uncles who wanted the best for me, and even my grandfather now that I look back.”
God has always been there. Through the tough times, through the battles, God has always been there, and He is faithful.
(Written by Stephen Colwell)