Kay Carol Pemberton has been a professing believer for more than 50 years. One of her greatest joys has been growing in an understanding of God’s love for her. “One Wednesday night at Elder-led Prayer, we sang ‘Restoration.’ As we were singing, the words just really touched my heart – He’s taken my shame and given me a new name. God was reminding me once again that I am His child, and I am forgiven. And I am a new person because of Him,” she said.
Even after decades of walking in the faith, God is still graciously applying the gospel to Kay Carol’s heart.
“Probably about 10 years ago, I really started struggling with God’s forgiveness. He kept opening doors for me at church and giving me opportunities that I didn’t think I was worthy of,” she said. “I would think of things or people that I needed forgiveness about, and I would pray and pray, and then it still didn’t feel right. It was so hard for me to accept His forgiveness because I just felt like I had fallen so short of His glory.
”Then one day it was just like the sky opened up and God told me that I needed to forgive myself. That He forgave me from the first time I asked for forgiveness. And from that day forward, my heart was so much lighter. And I could just see where He wanted me and what He wanted me to do.“
Kay Carol grew up in Greenville, Texas. Her parents taught her about Jesus from the time she was very young.
Kay Carol was saved and baptized at age 12, and the years after were filled with learning.
”I was in church from the moment my mother was able to go back to church,“ Kay Carol said. ”I grew up with a dad that read a devotional to us every morning before we started our day.“
Kay Carol’s mom and dad also had clear expectations of her and her younger brother.
”My parents were very strict. I was not allowed to dance because that was sinful. I was not allowed to do anything on Sunday unless it pertained to church.“
At the age of 12, Kay Carol publicly professed faith in Christ for the first time. She was baptized shortly thereafter, and the years that followed were filled with learning.
”I was in the Bible a lot. We were at the church every time the doors opened, even on school nights,“ she said.
While attending college at East Texas State University in Commerce, Kay Carol became engaged to her high school sweetheart, Dan. She dropped out of college to move to England, where Dan was stationed in the Air Force.
”That was the beginning of a time when I kind of pushed God to the side,“ she said. Their military friends had parties every Saturday night. ”That was the first time that I had been introduced to drinking, [and] the first time I participated in dancing that much.“
”I didn’t study the Bible like I did when I was in the states. I just kind of let go of everything that I had been and tried to be all of my life.“
Kay Carol and her husband returned to the U.S. She finished her degree and got a job. Although she wanted to find a church, Dan was reluctant, and their marriage became strained.
Kay Carol found out that she was pregnant. Though the news excited her, her husband was not happy, and things only worsened after their daughter’s birth.
”[Our daughter Carrie] was my responsibility,“ Kay Carol said. ”His idea was ‘You wanted the baby. You have to take care of her. And me.’ It was very difficult with my job and the child and the house.
“When she was 18 months old, I asked him for a separation because I wasn’t happy. I asked for six months, and after three months, he filed for divorce,” she said. “I felt like there had been a death. It was just one of the most sad and miserable days in my life.”
Though Kay Carol attended church, she wasn’t actively pursuing the Lord during that time.
Dinner with a friend resulted in Kay Carol meeting a man named Larry Pemberton, and the two hit it off. Larry had also been recently divorced and had a teenage daughter. After three years of dating, the couple decided to get married.
“The night before Larry and I got married, I was really struggling with my past sins,” Kay Carol said. “I dropped to my knees in my bedroom, telling God that I could not marry this man unless I was forgiven for my wrongdoings. I felt good about getting married the next day. We had a very special wedding with our families.”
In 1994 they settled back in Dallas and joined Northway Baptist Church where Larry had once been a member.
Eventually, Kay Carol was asked to serve Northway as a deacon.
“God grew me so much during those three years….We had to make really difficult decisions for the church, and I just became a steward in wanting to do everything that God wanted us to do, no matter how difficult it was going to be, for His glory.”
In God’s providence, The Village and Northway Baptist Church merged to become one. Kay Carol currently ministers to the senior adults at the Dallas Northway campus and mentors the young women there.
“I have been able to grow so fully in Christ because of The Village,” Kay Carol said. “And the one thing The Village has taught me is that I am not too old to learn.”