INDEPENDENCE – If you need a helping hand, Leighton Clemons is your man.
Whether it’s getting down on his hands and knees to help you haul the mud of out of a flooded basement or pulling wire on a newly finished church auditorium the 75-year-old member of Country Meadows Baptist Church in Independence is one of the most active in two of the hardest working organizations in Missouri Baptist life: Baptist Builders and Disaster Relief (DR).
For a man in two of the most servant-based ministries around, Clemons took a while to get there. He grew up in church, and was saved when he was ten years old. He joined the Navy and married Kay, who at the time was not a Christian.
“I never stopped believing and still knew God was my savior,” Clemons said, “but I was not following the Lord like I should.”
Kay eventually came to know the Lord, and they began to grow together as Christians. A retired electrician, Clemons and his wife spend their time traveling across Missouri and the U.S. wherever disaster strikes or the job site calls.
“Now God has allowed us to be a part of missions in a way I never thought possible,” he said. “It’s not us ourselves, but God can work through us.”
They have been active in both Baptist Builders since the early 1980s, and in Disaster Relief since Hurricane Katrina. The couple just returned from a week-long response in flood-ravaged Colorado, helping victims clean out their flooded homes.
“He’s a very dedicated, detail-oriented man,” said Dwain Carter, director of DR for the Missouri Baptist Convention. “He’s not just a starter, he’s a finisher. On top of that, he’s likeable.”
On the Baptist Builders side, Clemons’ hands have wired many churches across Missouri, including the recently built chapel at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of his current projects, the Disaster Relief Headquarters in Jefferson City.
Kay, a former high school secretary, said she would not like it if her husband settled into a more traditional retirement, and that she much prefers to travel with him and do odd jobs or other tasks alongside him (though she said she’s picked up a fair amount of electrical skill).
“We want to keep going as long as we can, and serving the Lord is our main thing,” she said.
Another project the couple worked on was Church of Faith, a Baptist congregation in Kansas City. Pastor Anthony Andrews said Clemons – along with other Baptist Builders – were an answer to prayer.
“When I spoke to Leighton he was out of town serving at a catastrophe and said he would contact me when he made it back to town. I will never forget that day. Leighton pulled up in a big truck, shook my hand and said he was here to serve the Lord and help churches that needed assistance. We walked the building and Leighton said he could get us in the building and ready to have worship service. Yes, the Lord had once again answered our prayers. “
“The best part of the story was watching men and women from various backgrounds, ethnic origins, political preferences, and different economic backgrounds coming together in the name of Jesus to further the kingdom of God and help the gospel to be preached to the lost. I have made a friend with Leighton Clemons and the Baptist Builders that I will cherish for the rest of my life. We are now in the building, saving souls, baptizing people, disciplining people, serving the community, and being light in a dark world.”