LOUISVILLE — The call for Ron Crow to become the new director for Kentucky Disaster Relief was crystal clear. It had to be.

Crow is moving away from his lifelong home state of Missouri, a successful pastorate of 16 years and his own family — two daughters and three grandsons who live in the immediate area.

But Ron and Lisa Crow are confident in the decision that will bring them 540 miles from Diamond, Missouri, to Louisville, where he will step into the role vacated when longtime Kentucky DR director Coy Webb accepted a similar position with the North American Mission Board.

Crow, who will be 55 at the end of the month, won’t assume the new role for a few weeks but is planning to be part of a training event on Saturday in Louisville.

“I want to impact the kingdom of God the most in my last stretch of ministry,” Crow said. “That has been my prayer for the last five years. When this opened up, my wife and I felt maybe there’s something different (than being a pastor).”

Crow has served 23 years as a pastor, the past 16 years at First Baptist Church in Diamond, where he is a beloved pastor. Crow told his congregation on Sunday that God was leading him to the Disaster Relief position in Kentucky. It was a tough day, he said. “The crowd was down because of the holiday and sickness, which helped me.”

Saying goodbye to a church that has been good to his family was difficult, Crow said. Moving away from his daughters and grandsons — who are ages 2, 3 and 4 — is only possible with God’s direct direction in their lives. “We’ve prayed and asked for God to show us clearly,” Crow said. “He did that.”

His wife is a Title I teacher in Missouri and she will finish out the school year, her 30th, before retiring. That means the couple will be separated from each other for several months. “That will be difficult, but at the same time, it may be helpful,” he said. “It’ll give the family time to get used to the idea.”

His daughters are Deanna, 34, who lives in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Meagan, 31, who has two of the grandsons and lives less than two miles from the Crows. Ron was born in Arkansas but moved to Missouri at age 3 and has lived there ever since. His wife was born and raised in Missouri.

“We’ve not lived more than 12 miles from where we grew up so moving out of state is a big deal as, of course, is leaving our grandsons and daughters,” Crow said.

“I believe Ron is the best person for this role but, more importantly, I am confident that God has called him to this position and look with great anticipation to Ron beginning work as our DR director,” said Eric Allen, the missions mobilization director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “I’m excited to have Ron join the missions mobilization team as DR director and trust that Kentucky’s volunteers will soon learn that he is Christ-focused in his work and looking to God for direction.”

Disaster Relief is already in his blood, having been introduced to its effectiveness after a tornado swept through the town where he was pastoring in 2003.

“That was my first exposure to Disaster Relief and I got the bug during the time,” he said. “Disaster Relief began in our local association and it grew and grew. The bug became a passion. I see it as a ministry that models the ministry of Jesus Christ. You always see Jesus among the people meeting their physical needs and that led to meeting their spiritual needs. Disaster Relief is there to meet the physical need and the spiritual need. That’s what drives my passion. I’ve seen this ministry get more people out of the pew and into the field more than any other ministry.”

Crow has served as the state associate director in Missouri for several years and has participated in national roundtable events where he met Webb, who carried a strong national reputation through Kentucky’s volunteer team.

“When I heard Coy was moving to Send Relief, I thought it was a great choice and I was excited for Coy,” Crow said. “I knew Kentucky hated to lose him. I’m also a NAMB trustee on the Send Relief committee.”

He said while he learned of the opening, he wasn’t pursuing the position. He was approached by someone else later and began praying about the move in ministry.

Crow said he knew the Kentucky Disaster Relief team was well respected and supported through the convention. He will come in and evaluate before making any changes to the organization. “I need to get a handle on how things are going and, if they’re working well, leave it alone,” he said. “I like to come into a situation and see how things are working. What’s working and what’s not.”

For now, he is wanting to “end well here” as the church pastor for the rest of the month. Crow said his spiritual gifts are administration and shepherding and he enjoys building relationships. “I look forward to doing that with the convention staff team and the leadership team. We can establish a friendship but also a good working relationship.”

Crow said he wants to get people of all ages involved in Disaster Relief work and he also seeks to help the communities where DR has served after they leave from helping in a disaster situation.

“How do we connect these unchurched people to the local churches? I want to see some sort of after-the-fact follow-up with local churches.” Crow knows that is up to the local churches, but believe they can provide helpful resources like a prospect list.

Allen said Crow is the perfect fit for the job because of his experience and interpersonal skills.

“Kentucky DR work is highly regarded across the SBC and Ron’s experience has prepared him to further develop the effectiveness of our responses,” Allen said. “His strong relational skills and leadership ability will prove helpful as he coordinates and equips the skilled leaders serving in Kentucky DR.”

Crow’s first day with the KBC is set for Feb. 1.