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From high life to Christ life, businessman has lived it all

By Billy Bruce | For The Tribune

Once upon a time, you might have visited his tiny grocery store in Ironton.

You might recall his brief incarceration at the end of the century.

Recently, you’ve probably heard him on the radio or possibly even visited his Web site.

Now, you have the opportunity to read his book.

And many would say it is a fascinating story.

But let’s digress for a moment to set the background prior to the opening chapter.

Kevin West, a 1984 Ironton High School grad, has experienced the highs and lows of life. Mysteriously, in seemingly reverse order, his highs brought him nothing but lows.

Fast-forward 10 years from his graduation to 1994. West rapidly climbed the corporate ladder and, while still in his 20s, was standing on the rung marked “vice president” in a large financial institution.

West had a loving wife, adorable children, money, power, and success.

But, while things looked perfect on the outside, West was miserable on the inside.

“To the world, I looked like I had it all together, but on the inside I was dying,” he recalled.

He had gone against his principles to chase what he quickly began to see as the American Pipe Dream.

And that dream came with a steep price.

By 1997, his wife, Leesa, was fed up with all of her husband’s so-called success. She looked at him one evening and, speaking frankly for the couple’s children and herself, said, “We don’t even know you anymore.”

For West, his wife’s words felt like NFL kicker Morten Anderson had teed up his stomach on the 20-yard-line and booted it into the opposite endzone.

“It really hit home,” he said.

On the spot, with Leesa’s assessment still hanging in the air, West began examining his life, his value system, and his purpose.

He wrestled with God.

And shortly afterward he began to make abrupt changes. He got saved, resigned his position at the bank, severed old relationships and began an earnest walk with God.

He bought the former Kizzee’s Market on the corner of Eighth and Wyanoke Streets and went into business for himself.

This is where Kevin’s book begins.

One day, a scraggly, unkempt elderly man wandered into the store to inquire about credit. West noted the man’s dirty appearance and the foul odor that surrounded him, but nonetheless told the man that he would give him credit for purchases.

“He saw my Bible on the counter by the register and said, ‘Finding anything good in that book?,’ West recalled, speaking excitedly as he relived the moment.

“I said, ‘It’s all good.’”

“Then he spun that Bible around and began telling me, from Genesis to Revelation, what the stories really meant.”

Two years later, fueled by the old man’s perspectives, West was preaching and sharing God’s word with anyone willing to listen. His marriage began to improve dramatically. He was spending much more time with his children. And his life was positively impacting others.

Now, West said he felt he was truly was living a dream.

The unbathed old man, whose name was Don, became his closest confidant. For several years, he and West spent as much time as they could studying the Bible together.

Then the Devil came for his due.

Some of the decisions West made years earlier in the financial world changed his life again. The consequences of those decisions was an eight-month stint in a prison camp.

Undaunted, he accepted the consequences of his mistakes and served his time. Meanwhile, Leesa and the children stood by with unwavering support for the new man they dearly loved who was paying for the sins of his former life.

By 2002 West was ministering full time as the executive pastor at Christ Temple Church in Huntington, W.Va. where he remains today. Last October, at the urging of local radio personality Steve Reinhardt, he began a radio ministry entitled “Real Life with Kevin West” which airs on 30 different stations of varying genres throughout the Tri-State and beyond.

He has visited and ministered to thousands of people in places abroad, such as Central America, Africa and Asia.

According to West, his profession as a minister for Christ is much more than a career.

“It’s not a job; it’s a calling,” he said. “You surrender your life to a life beyond yourself.”

And that surrender often involves some glorious surprises.

In his recently released book, “Living a Transformed Life,” West draws on the divine purpose for his meeting a seemingly insignificant old man in his tiny grocery store in Ironton and the impact the resulting relationship made in his life, Don’s life, and literally thousands of other souls, with many more to come.

“Living a Transformed Life” is available in ebook form via major outlets such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Hard copies of the book are available on West’s Web site, www.kevinwest.org.