Uplifting: Banquet raises funds for South American ministry founded by Winchester native

Published 11:39 am Monday, September 25, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Friday night was a celebration for Uplifting Ministries at First Church of God in Winchester.

“This is our fifth annual dinner banquet,” said David Lane, the ministry’s founder and Winchester native. “It is a celebration dinner. Most of the people here are some of our biggest donors if not our biggest donors. We treat them to a meal…and we’ve had a lot of different people come as guest speakers to really advocate for what we are doing.”

The ministry was founded in 2014 and serves the town of Guazacapan in Guatemala. Its property includes a church, a mission house, bathroom facilities, housing for the homeless, classrooms, a store and a movie theater.

Email newsletter signup

Missionaries and ministry staff offer meals, English and Bible classes and worship services.

Lane is quick to mention that the ministry aims to keep faith front and center.

“We do so many different things, but it is important to remember that we are a faith-based nonprofit,” he said. “Yes, we feed the hungry. Yes, we build houses for the homeless. Yes, we teach English classes and put extremely impoverished children into private schooling that they would never be able to afford…We serve people in order to build a relationship with them in order to lead them to Christ, and if that has to start with the humanitarian mean, we do it.”

Friday’s fundraiser raised capital for the ministry’s education center and to build a home for Lane and his wife, Catherine, so they can live on-site full-time.”

Lane describes his journey to becoming a missionary as one of the most unlikely ones a person might hear.

“I was the kid you would not want your kids to hang out with,” he said. “Whether it was getting trouble at school, getting suspended or going to parties I should not have.”

Often, he could not stay out of his own way.

My high school career involved being successful in sports until I would shoot myself in the foot or close doors in front of myself because I would get in so much trouble,” Lane said.

By age 21, Lane said he had thrown away a military career, been arrested six times and broken countless important relationships.

Something had to change.

So, Lane committed his life to the Christian faith and experienced what he calls a “180-degree turnaround.”

Part of that was going on a mission trip to Guatemala in 2013 that proved to be life-changing.

“I found my calling. I found, felt and saw a vision from the lord that said this was my future,” Lane said.

His youth and reputation did not win Lane much support when he returned to Winchester, so he sold most of his belongings to finance his vision.

Much has changed in the ten years since.

“Uplifting Ministries is now a 501(c)(3) tax deductible organization, we have a board of 12 members and we regularly send teams from here to Guatemala…It has been an incredible underdog story.”

The event’s two keynote speakers, former University of Kentucky hoops legend Jeff Sheppard and former Wildcat pitcher Alex Degen, had nothing but positive things to say about the ministry and its work.

Sheppard spoke at the ministry’s first dinner in 2018 and serves as its financial advisor through The Family Wealth Group.

Watching the ministry grow like it has been a joyful experience for him.

“It is exciting to be able to see them get there full-time, and hopefully this banquet will put them over the edge,” Sheppard said. “Any mission that is directly trying to introduce people to Jesus is very special and powerful.”

Degen echoed Sheppard’s thoughts.

“Any sort of ministry where there are two people who are willing to give up most of what they have in a first world country and explore something…anybody that is willing to share Jesus and the gospel with lost people, I’m a supporter of that.”

For more information about Uplifting Ministries or to donate, visit its webpage at www.upliftingministries.com.