Pastor Steve Hill was called to preach in 1978 and has been delivering God’s word to the masses ever since. Although he is retiring this month, after 40 years and four churches, he and his wife, Joan, plan to continue their work for the Lord and continue to spread His love.

“Our plan is to continue the work that we’ve done,” he said.

The Hart County native came to know the Lord in the ’70s while in the military. He did not grow up in church, but his wife did.

“She was my pastor,” he said with a chuckle. Hill said the two were married for six years before he came to know the Lord. He said she would take their children to chapel on base and read them Bible stories.

“She was teaching me and didn’t know it,” he said.

Hill, 68, graduated from East Baptist Texas University in 1979 and was called to a small church in east Texas.

“The first time I was there, there was 17 in worship,” he said, noting in the three years he was there the church grew to more than 100 members. “We had tremendous growth. God blessed it.”

Hill then had the opportunity to pastor a church in Fort Worth, Texas, in a transitional downtown community. He was there from 1983 to 1991. He said the North American Mission Board told him the church wasn’t supposed to grow.

“We had been targeted as a church that couldn’t grow in the community that we were in, but we wound up going to two services and started a Hispanic mission,” he said, adding the first pastor they had with the Hispanic mission went back to Mexico and started 32 churches.

After Fort Worth, Hill moved back to Kentucky in 1991 and took the pulpit of Valley Creek Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, which at the time he said was probably less than 100 people in worship. By the time they left in 2002, Hill said it had grown exponentially.

“God just really opened the doors there,” he said.

In 2002, Hill started New Horizon Baptist Fellowship in Glendale, where he has been the pastor for almost 18 years. He said they currently have around 225 people in Sunday worship.

“God’s blessed this church, too. Out of all of them, a new church start is the hardest work,” he said.

When asked about how he’s been able to grow the churches, Hill cited Bible verses Matthew 18: 18-20, the Great Commission, and Acts 20:20.

“That’s been the secret. Door-to-door evangelism. Doing evangelistic revivals,’’ he said. “Doing evangelistic events that draw people in. It gives you the opportunity to share the good news and every time we have those events the week before we organize and we have a blitz and go out into the community to invite them in.”

Hill said another component is helping the congregation grow in their relationship with Christ.

“Not just teaching them in the classroom setting, but going with them on mission trips. ... That is where a lot of the growing and discipling happens. They don’t only learn the word of God, but they learn how to apply it out there where the rubber hits the road in the real world,” he said.

Hill said his pastoring experience has been worthwhile because of the blessing he has received. That includes the blessing of a wife and family that are supportive, and the blessing of seeing people’s lives change and seeing families restored.

“Just touching people’s lives for the cause of Christ. That is worth it,” he said. “You may be 10 years down the road and somebody will write you a note or send you a letter from the previous church or something and you can’t put a price tag on it. It is just a tremendous blessing. The joy of knowing you are doing what God called you to do.”

Hill will continue God’s work traveling to pulpits, volunteering as a chaplain at the Hardin County Detention Center, participating with evangelical revivals, continued missions and more.

“We want to enjoy the ministry that God blessed us with,” he said.

A retirement ceremony for Hill will be held at 10:30 a.m. June 30 at New Horizon Baptist Fellowship, 864 W. Rhudes Creek Road in Glendale.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1741 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com.