The Rev. Ben White has been open to new ideas and finding ways to draw in the community to hear the Gospel since assuming his first pastorship in September at Masonville Baptist Church.
White, 41, would look to Big Blue Nation and one of his all-time favorite University of Kentucky basketball players — Cameron Mills — to help in his endeavor.
“It hit me that Cameron was in ministry at one time but I didn’t know if he still was,” White said. “…I got to probing around and found his website. I reached out
by email and he said he’d be glad
On Feb. 23, Mills will bring his 22-year-old traveling Christian ministry to Masonville Baptist Church, 6601 U.S. 231, and will speak to the congregation at the 11 a.m. service.
Mills, 44, played guard on two of UK’s national championship basketball teams — 1996 and 1998.
But his faith always went beyond basketball.
During his playing career at UK, Mills said he would often receive speaking requests from Sunday school classes or Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which were the building blocks to what would become an ongoing ministry.
“I was called to ministry when I was 12 years old and I always assumed I would be a youth pastor,” Mills said. “And when I got to UK, and because I was open about my faith, I started getting invitations to speak while I was still playing ball.”
After graduating in 1998, he officially began CMM21 — Christian Mills Ministries, with the 21 representing his UK jersey number.
“It had a lot to do with the championships, but my senior year, I literally had two years of speaking engagements lined up,” Mills said. “And that kind of opened my eyes and I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this’. I never think of myself as an evangelist but biblically, that’s probably the office I hold. I don’t pastor because I certainly don’t have that skill set.”
In the two decades following, Mills said there has been an ebb and flow to his ministry — last year with mostly 50-weekend speaking engagements and this year he’s on pace for 100.
During the week, he’s employed by LH Group, Inc., a home health and hospice company.
“I have other things that kind of help pay my bills but ministry has always been where my calling lies.”
When he speaks at Masonville, Mills said he hasn’t decided on a message yet but he often gives his testimony and talks about lessons learned from his playing days at UK.
“I have evangelical messages, on the Ten Commandments, on obedience, but I’d say I do mix it up,” Mills said. “It’s kind of what I feel laid on my heart and what I need to share.”
Masonville Baptist’s 11 a.m. service on Feb. 23 featuring Mills is open to the public.
White said he sees this as an opportunity to hear a “really good gospel preacher” who happened to have played basketball for UK.
“My prayer is that folks will come here passionate about Kentucky basketball but leave passionate about Jesus,” White said.