A Tribute to Moses Kitchen
I have sat in the hills and watched the flowing of water as it slowly slipped over the leaves toward the cliff just ahead. I have listened to the drops as they continued to drop to the surface below. Even, then, I often thought about the fact that these drops of water had much greater destiny and purpose than what it seemed.
They would keep slipping and sliding. They would drip, and drop. They would be noticed, and unnoticed. They would flow when cold, and flow when hot. They had a destiny and a purpose that was far above my understanding.
Sure there was the little branch that some called Gap Branch and others Bays Branch. The fact remained the same. These drops were going to form a branch. This branch would flow into Little Paint Creek. This creek would flow into the Big Sandy River. This river would flow into a larger river, the Ohio River. These two rivers together would make it to the mighty Mississippi River. The mighty Mississippi would flow with a mighty force until it got to the delta and then it would meander a bit before it became part of the Ocean. The cycle would continue as the moisture was drawn up and released another day. No one knew where these drops would land, but drop they would.
There was one man, whom I knew very well, who could symbolize this process spiritually. His name was Moses Kitchen, my dad. His life was lived in such a way that out of his life seeped drops of living water that as they accumulated formed an awfully large contributory. It was a contributory to mankind from the very heart of a man who got his moisture from heavenly dew. His life was seemingly always saturated with this dew. And, it didn’t take much to get the water flowing. Sometimes, instead of being drops it would be rivers of living water.
He wasn’t the BIGFOOT of the Himalayas or the Alps. His footprints could not be found on Kilimanjaro in Africa. He never climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan. But his footprints could definitely be found where God had put him, in the Appalachian Mountains.
It was work in the coal mines that brought him from Carter Co. to Floyd Co. In Floyd County he would find his wife and my mother, Grace Elkins, daughter of Columbus Elkins and Victoria Akers. My mother’s lineage went to Charles A. Elkins and Lorena Louise Stratton, Nelson Akers and Elizabeth Boyd, Tandy Stratton and Mahala Lewis, James Elkins and Elizabeth Priest. (This is to show my roots in Floyd County.)
Our beginnings as a family, would in many ways begin in Van Lear, KY. Back far under the hill in a dark black hole, sitting on his aluminum dinner pail, Moses Kitchen, my dad found peace with God. The little Mission Church at the mouth of Wolf Pen Hollow provided him his first place to preach. And, a little green house up that hollow provided a place for my sister Bonnie and myself to be born.
Our family moved to Bays Branch in 1936, in Floyd County. Here we found the sanctity of the hills, and the loving fellowship of our kinfolk.
From this hollow, Moses and Grace Kitchen sat up a base camp for their family, and the world. It was from here he would begin pastoring at Little Paint Creek Church of God. From here he would launch a new church in Little Mud Lick. A plaque behind my desk reads, OUR LOVE AND APPRECIATION TO: MOSES KITCHEN, FOR THE WORK ESTABLISHED AT LITTLE MUD LICK CHURCH OF GO GOD, DEDICATED 1940.
On Feb. 11, 1945 a new church was established in Paintsville, KY., once again, under his leadership. In 1948, after twenty-five years, he left the coal mines, and set out by faith to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. In that year he had his first tent meeting in Prestonsburg. His second tent revival was at West Van Lear running from June 5, 1948, and continuing until June 20, 1948. On a Friday night on March 31, 1952 he established a church in Prestonsburg, KY. In 1956 he began the Eastern Kentucky Camp Meeting at Prestonburg, KY. And, in Grayson, KY. On October, 1964 another church was established.
On the wall behind my desk is another plaque. It reads, TO REV. MOSES KITCHEN, IN RECOGNITION OF MANY YEARS OF FAITHFUL MINISTRY TO THE CHURCH OF GOD IN KENTUCKY, THE MEMBERS OF THE MEADE STATION CHURCH OF GOD PROUDLY BESTOW UPON YOU…THE TITLE OF…PASTOR EMERITUS. Sept. 11, 1983. I have recorded about 200 revivals throughout the Appalachian area. Some were in Ohio, W.VA. KY. Tenn., Fla., Most were for two weeks.
I have sat for hours and hours perusing his diaries. Each and everyday was a day owed to the Lord. His dairies are filled with names of the people he had visited. He talked of those who were aged and needed a friend. He was there. He talked of those who needed a savior. He was there. He talked of those in the hospital and needed prayer. He was there. This wasn’t an occasional thing. This was a daily mission to bring sunshine or moisture to the people he believed God would have him visit. It was his life. It was his purpose. He made, by the grace of God, each life he visited as if Jesus Christ himself had been there.
Each and every person comes to the point where you make your “last stand.” General Armstrong Custer made his against the Sioux at the battle of Little Big Horn. On June 25, 1876 the career ended of a man who had wanted a different last chapter to his life. In spite of what he was trying to do, Sitting Bull honored him by not having his scalp. He appreciated and respected Custer for being so courageous. His affectionate name for Custer was General Longhair, because of the blond yellowish hair that flowed down his back.
Most historians who speak of Custer talk more of his foolishness, rather than his heroics and courage. His last stand was not one to be celebrated by himself and his men. They had nothing for which to celebrate from their ghastly, deadly “last stand.”
My dad, Moses Kitchen, made his last stand at 107 Bagby Street, Grayson, Ky. He ended his days by trying to put on paper all that time would permit. Hundreds of letters of encouragement and exhortation were written.
He made his last stand without the use of one side of his body, for he had a stroke that partially paralyzed him. No more could he make his trips to Butcher Hollow, Daniel’s Creek Log Church, or to the big towns with high steeples. His last letter was to David Kitchen, my son, who pastors the Nashville Church of God.
He was in a revival at Mason, Ohio on April 17, 1961 when he had this dream at night. He writes, that night I dreamed I cleaned out the old well, from which we drank water there at Bay’s Branch, in Floyd County. The Lord showed me a stream of pure water coming from that well. It was about the size of my thumb. I thought this is the well from which my children have drunk. This is where my children got their water. ON TUESDAY MORNING, I SAT UP IN THE BED AND WEPT AND PRAISED GOD THAT HE HAD HELPED ME TO PROVIDE PURE WATER FOR MY CHILDREN TO DRINK.
Moses Kitchen had seen some of the things happen for which he had prayed. He had seen his son, Bob Kitchen, accept his call into the ministry. He was thankful that an extension of him had been successful at Pikeville, KY. Paintsville, KY., Hope, KY., Tampa, Fla., Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Mt. Juliet, Tenn.
He was proud that the stream had reached the hearts of thousands of people, and that under the leadership of Bob Kitchen and wife, Ruby, Hope Hill Children’s Home, near Mt. Sterling, KY. was built. He was proud that his grandson had finished his seminary work at Trevecca Nazarene College. He was thrilled that Bob could teach school for thirty years and witness for Jesus. Perhaps, he would have been proud that I was ask not to preach Jesus anymore, and that as a result of that to decide to retire from teaching.
His last letter was written to his grandson, David Kitchen. David had just called him for some spiritual advice, and Dad had given it to him. But, for fear, he had not made himself clear, he wrote him a letter.
The letter was unsigned for in just a few minutes he would go back to the bedroom, and he would lie down on his bed. The Heavenly Escort Service came and picked him up and took him home. They left the house that had carried him across the many states preaching the gospel.
There were the hands scarred with manual labor in the coal mines, and physical labor expended in raising up buildings for congregations across eastern Kentucky. There were the feet that I had tried to follow along those long paths to a country church somewhere. There was the face that had shown like the face of an angel. There was the mouth, out of which had come praises to God anywhere he was. There was a man, from God, named Moses.
I always had trouble reaching his steps down those long trails. At first, I wondered why we had to be so different from other people. On those extremely cold nights, why couldn’t we stay home around the fire? Wheat made this man tick? To what band was this man marching? Where was the beacon light of which he spoke so often? Whose voice was giving him directions? Why was he so obsessed to keep going, and going, and going, as long as there was an ounce of energy in his body or a breath of air in his lungs?
But, the day came, for which he had looked forward for so long a time! He approached the hour like one who had made plans far ahead of time. He had checked and double-checked to make sure he was ready to depart. No, he didn’t die; he just departed to be with Christ. Dad, I’ll see you on those Alpine Hills of Glory. We will drive down our silver homesteader’s stake and sing, HOME SWEET HOME.
Moses Kitchen was born July 24, 1908 and died April 18, 1984. He began his ministry at the age of 26. He spent 49 years in service to God and mankind. His legacy will go on forever!