More than ever, places in desperate need for the gospel do not welcome pastors or missionaries. Both closed countries and American public schools try to keep Christians away, so believers have to use creative platforms.

“Teachers can go places where pastors cannot go,” said Kevin Jones, assistant professor of teacher education at Boyce College, who has a desire to bring the gospel to places in such desperate need. “I can go to tough places and closed countries because I can teach there.”

Whether teaching English in the 10/40 Window or teaching third graders in an urban public school, teachers can go where vocational ministers can’t. This pursuit to bring the gospel into hard places through education has led Jones on a journey to 10 years of teaching experience, four education degrees, several years of pastoral experience, and now training teacher education students at Boyce College.

Growing up in West Louisville, Jones saw broken and depraved places firsthand. But it wasn’t until his midteens that Jones realized that he was broken and depraved himself.

“We were faithful churchgoers,” said Jones, reflecting on his life before conversion. “I heard the gospel most of my life.”

At age 15, Jones became convicted of his sin during a service at Little Flock Baptist Church in Louisville’s Shelby Park neighborhood. Soon after the experience, he resolved to “be good” but found himself continually failing. Jones recognized his need for Christ and with the help of deacon and church bus driver David Williams, Jones embraced the gospel.

A year later, at the same church, Jones’ Sunday School teacher Patsy Turner encouraged him to pursue education through the church’s one-year teacher training program. Turner told Jones, “The Lord has blessed you with the gift of teaching, I can hear it when I teach you.” Although reluctant at first, Jones agreed to attend the training, and he says now it changed his life.

Through Turner’s influence, Jones chose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education at Kentucky State University. While attending the historically black college, Jones met his mentor Kenneth Chatman, vice president of student affairs.

“He really encouraged me to pursue education,” said Jones. As an African-American, Jones found himself at odds with statistics showing that teaching was predominately a white female occupation. But Chatman, seeing his young pupil’s passion, told him that if the Lord had given him a desire to teach then he should pursue it with vigor.

With encouragement from his mentor, Jones went on to earn M.A. and M.Ed. degrees from the University of Kentucky — although he remains a lifelong fan of the University of Louisville — and a D.Ed. from Spalding University, all the while gaining experience teaching in various public schools. Chatman also demonstrated a model of faithful marriage and encouraged Jones to marry his girlfriend Demica. The couple now has three children.

After graduating, Jones knew he was not interested in teaching at a Christian school.  “I always turned them down,” Jones said. “I don’t want to be by Christians. I want to be by people who don’t have Bibles.”

Jones saw the lack of faithful Christian witness in public schools and longed to bring Christ where he typically could not be found, so why go where Christ already was? But God began to change his heart toward Christian education. After learning about an open position at Boyce College, Jones began seriously to consider teaching in a Christian environment.

He realized that he had a certain skill set that could be better used in training others. Along with his extensive education background, Jones also had experience in pastoral ministry from his time at Watson Baptist Church serving with Kevin Smith — a professor at Southern Seminary and president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention — and Immanuel Baptist Church’s three-year pastoral apprenticeship under Ryan Fullerton.

Jones could uniquely interweave his pastoral experience and education experience to train future teachers in a Christian setting like Boyce. Shortly after meeting Boyce College Dean Dan DeWitt, Jones was hired as assistant professor of teacher education.

Jones embraces his new role as trainer and sender at Boyce, but his desire to reach broken places has not waned. Well acquainted with Louisville’s needs, Jones actively seeks ways to serve and share the gospel within his community through organizations like Love Thy Neighborhood, which trains young people to work within gospel-centered nonprofits in impoverished communities. Jones’ role with LTN is creating curriculum and study materials for the organization’s trainees.

Jones still advocates for public school education because he is aware of the challenges the system faces. New teachers are sent to the worst schools, but when they prove their worth and gain tenure, they leave the bad schools behind for easier teaching environments. Jones hopes to counter this by modeling and teaching a different method — a life of service and sacrifice, rather than one of ease and comfort. A life that reaches out to children who haven’t eaten breakfast and have “been in the same clothes for six days in a row,” Jones said.

The lack of qualified teachers and the cycle of teachers from the worst schools is a problem within public school education, but Jones understands the fundamental problem is much deeper. Where there are no Christian teachers, the blind teach the blind.

“As long as we don’t have Christian teachers in every single classroom, I think we will always have problems in education,” Jones said.