When you first meet Kathy Dudley, several things go through your mind: attractive, friendly, middle class—prime suburb material. What does not cross your mind is inner-city ministry. But that is what Kathy Dudley has devoted her life to.

One look down the streets of West Dallas, Texas, tells a familiar tale of urban despair—gangs, drugs, teenage pregnancy, economic decay. Dudley stepped into these streets 12 years ago, launching Voice of Hope Ministries, a holistic outreach of evangelism, youth programs, and self-help initiatives. A wife and mother of two teenage sons, Dudley herself was raised amid an enslaving poverty. As the director of Voice of Hope, it is clear that her kinship with the poor remains intact.

CHRISTIANITY TODAY:

How do you account for your journey from hopelessness to an active faith in God?

KATHY DUDLEY:

I grew up in Appalachia in a small Virginia town. I was the last of nine surviving children. My dad was a poor sharecropper. When I was five, my father became disabled. He went through a lot of pain and frustration that led him to alcohol, which made him dangerous. By the time I was a teenager, my life was, emotionally, very difficult.

When I was 17, I began working for the welfare department. I felt hopeless. But a lady worked there who invited me to a Southern Baptist camp for teenagers. It was there that I committed my life to Christ. That was the beginning of a total transformation.

CHRISTIANITY TODAY:

How did you develop a passion for ministry?

KATHY DUDLEY:

After my husband, Sayres, and I were married, he was drafted and went on to join the air force. We were stationed in Massachusetts. Because there was little Christian presence on the base, we decided to begin a Bible study. Several of the ...

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