By Courtney Ingle

We often think being a “disciple” means being alongside Jesus during His earthly ministry; a more contemporary image of a disciple of Christ might look like a pastor behind a pulpit.

The men in our Feature Story have made discipling others for Christ their mission, even if they aren’t in full-time ministry. From the mediation room to the prison cell, these men hit their God-given mission fields each and every day.

Kevin and Natalie Mahaffey

Photo by Karla Pound

Kevin and Natalie Mahaffey, along with Kevin’s brother Tim, are the owners of Quality Printing in downtown Jackson. Between the two of them are five adult children, and right behind them are their three grandkids. Life is busy enough – but Kevin is dedicated to his “Great Commission” work in prison ministry.

What started as a small men’s group with Kevin, Aubrey Pritchard and Gene Henderson (father of Chip Henderson, pastor of Pinelake Church) grew into a desire to spread the gospel to those lacking everyday access to the Word.

“We had an accountability group and we’d talk about how we spread the gospel that week,” said Kevin. “And (Pritchard) would come and say he baptized 14 men, like every week, and I asked how, and he said at the Rankin County Jail.”

Kevin dived in with ministry at the Rankin County Jail before moving into the Madison County Detention Center. The work involves much more than just leading a Bible study.

“If someone lost a parent recently, while they were in jail, then I’ll go and talk to them,” said Kevin. “Or if they’re having a problem with something in their life, I go in and talk to them, and pray with them.”

Over the past few years, Kevin said he’s seen God do a lot of transformation in the lives of these incarcerated men. Some of them have reached out to him.

“I had a letter just the other day, from a man saying he’d never forget us coming in and sharing the Good News with him,” said Kevin.

It wasn’t long after Kevin started in prison ministry that his wife, Natalie, got involved.

“I told her, this is the most addicting thing you’ll ever do,” said Kevin.

“When I started working with ladies who are incarcerated, I actually started with this group called The Net,” said Natalie. “It was doing one-on-one mentoring and Bible study with women who lived in Crossroads, which was a transitional living facility, so it’s the women when they’re released (from) prison.”

Kevin and Natalie both were able to relate to the incarcerated men and women, and through their ministry, grew to appreciate God’s grace and mercy more and more.

“Like Kevin, I had made some terrible choices in my life. I didn’t always . ..walk in obedience with the Lord. I had my times of running away,” said Natalie. “He was so faithful and so good to us and so forgiving and showed us so much grace.

“We had that in our heart where we could share it with the people that we meet who are going through a hard time, who have maybe turned away from the Lord, who maybe didn’t know Him ever. And so our past experiences and the forgiveness and love and grace that we’ve received from God have helped us with these people.”

Kevin said the work Christ has done in the lives of the incarcerated stretches far beyond the sentences they serve.

“It’s amazing what we’re seeing, we’ve probably baptized 110 since January,” said Kevin. “And then we’re also teaching Celebrate Recovery, which they can take with them to court when they have to appear for their drug charges.”

Willie and Carmen Abston

Willie and Carmen Abston have been in ministry for most of their 33 years of marriage. Willie is an attorney and has worked in just about every ministerial position at New Vision Fellowship in Brandon.

“I’m an assistant pastor at our church,” said Abston. “I’ve been a pastor and elder at this church, and I’ve been a youth pastor, and up until recently, Carmen was leading the Personal Workers Ministry. We’re also on the board and have led outreach ministry.”

The Abstons’ mission field is wherever their feet are touching ground at the moment.

Carmen is a coordinator for The Writing Center at Hinds Community College, and Willie’s legal practice focuses on mediation. They’ve had opportunities for gospel-centered conversations with students and clients.

Balancing all this seems impossible, but Carmen said that, thankfully, God drives their every move.

“It’s God’s super to our natural,” said Carmen. “It’s really His super power that has been added to our natural ability that allows us to do what we do.”

As Willie has led his family and his church in their walks with the Lord, he has seen the impact it has had on others.

“Our son approached us and had been on a mission trip to China, and he wanted to go back and us go with him,” said Willie. “To see your kids display that kindness is really awesome. To see them want to share what they have in Him that others may not have, it really tugs at your heart.”

Between work and ministry, there’s a lot to handle that can often take away from time together with your spouse and family. Willie said that the work he and Carmen do is complementary based on their natural abilities.

“Carmen has a Ph.D., so she’s the smart one, and we need that,” said Willie. “So we have the brains, and we have the side of us that is a hard worker and driven.”

Willie has a heavy load at the practice, though now he is more on the mediation side. Even still, gospel opportunities are constantly presenting themselves.

“A case I recently mediated involved a man with a personal injury and his place of work,” said Willie. “So we got it resolved, and he is a Christian, so we were able to talk about the Word and how his faith kept him going during this process.”

Willie credited his parents and different spiritual mentors for inspiring him to live each day ministry-minded.

“My mother introduced me to Jesus Christ, and my father introduced me to hard work and what it can do for you,” said Willie. “And then there’s Juan Jones and Robin Jones (recently retired co-pastors of New Vision Fellowship), who are really special to us, because they’ve shown us what it’s like to be a married couple with a family who minister the gospel.”

Courtney and her husband, Jeremy, live in Brandon and are members at Park Place Baptist Church in Pearl. They have a daughter, Taylor, and a son, Jacob. Courtney is a full-time homemaker and can be reached at