By Sharon Coy
Blade Staff Writer
From the time he first came to know Christ as a young man, Kent Otott knew he wanted to serve in some area of ministry.
He first thought of joining the military and becoming a chaplain but after his graduation from Christ Unlimited Bible Institute in Kansas City, he was led in another direction. His area of ministry became one of serving youth when he became director of North Central Kansas Teens for Christ, a position he has had for 29 years.
Otott grew up in Belleville and graduated from Belleville High School in 1983. He then spent five months at the Bible Institute in Kansas City which he described as a Vo-Tech for youth ministry, which was the school's primary area of study.
Upon completion of his studies, he came to Concordia and joined the staff of North Central Kansas Teens for Christ which at that time was under the umbrella of Kansas City Youth for Christ. He worked with Mike Costello who had been the NCK TFC director since 1979.
When Costello left in 1984, Otott took over his position. In 1990 Kansas City Youth for Christ decided to do away with its TFC associate ministries in the 13 counties of north central Kansas.
NCK TFC became a separate entity, forming its own board and addressing necessary tax and business issues. As he did then, and now, Otott handles office duties from his home.
As TFC director, Otott's many duties include planning monthly rallies and other activities, such as dodge ball tournaments and Bible clubs. He assists different church groups when they ask for help with programs and makes regular visits to Wichita and Kansas City to "scout" for program possibilities.
Since Otott has been TFC director, 350 rallies have been held. Programs include inspirational entertainment from musicians, magicians, films and speakers along with a basic gospel message, birthday recognition and other regular features. Otott said average attendance has been 110. However, last month, when Red Roots performed, it reached 140.
The regular monthly rallies are always held in Concordia with additional ones occasionally in other towns in the 13 county area. Concordia's Brown Grand Theatre was the venue for the rallies until its structural issues were discovered. Until the necessary repairs can be made, the rallies are at The Baptist Church.
Otott said that, in addition to teens, parents and other adults are always welcome to attend the rallies. No admission is charged but a freewill offering is taken.
In the coming school year, Otott will be conducting two Bible Clubs for teens, one on Wednesday evenings in Miltonvale, and another on Sunday evenings in Lincoln. Held in people's homes, these meetings always include something fun, such as games or trivia contests, along with Scripture study.
Dodge ball tournaments this year are scheduled for Concordia, Glen Elder, Lincoln and Courtland.
Otott drives to Topeka once a week to visit girls at the Juvenile Correctional Complex, a ministry he began in 2007 when the facility was at Beloit and continued after it closed and the girls were moved to Topeka. On July 30 he made his 200th trip to Topeka.
Otott also visits inmates at the Cloud County Jail and has done Bible studies there. Other areas of service include training for and serving as a volunteer firefighter for the Concordia Fire Department and filling in as pastor at area churches whenever needed.
Otott met his wife, Lisa Marty, at a Youth for Christ camp in 1983. They were married in 1985. The couple have been foster parents and adopted three children who were in the foster care system. Their daughter, Ashley, 25, lives in Lawrence. Their son, Duwaine, graduated from Concordia High School in May and plans to join the Air Force this month. Jossalin, who is four and a half, will attend preschool this year.
The Ototts often help other foster parents who sometimes need help and advice.
Otott said what he has liked best about his 29 years as TFC director is seeing kids come to know Christ and grow in the Lord, seeing kids come full circle from TFC kid to adult.
He described as one of his most touching experiences a visit paid to a former TFC kid now living in western Kansas who was having health problems. During his visit, the "kid," now a grown man, told his wife about how he had come to know Christ at a TFC rally.
One unusual experience was when illusionist Andre Kole was performing at a rally and accidentally set off the fire alarm at the Brown Grand. The fire trucks arrived at the door just as his performance closed.
Of the many programs Otott has brought to Concordia, he said there were few that he has disliked.
A favorite vocalist, Don Francisco from Colorado, performed here two years ago. This is someone Otott enjoyed listening to as a teenager. He said his voice sounds just as beautiful today as it did then.
Another of his favorite guests is former prison inmate Jack Hager, who attended the same Bible Institute as Otott. He will be the featured speaker at the rally in September.
Goals Otott would like to accomplish in the future include seeing an increase in attendance at rallies and being able to provide more encouragement for area youth groups.
A former TFC kid who nominated Otott for People in Profile, Kelly Buckley, describes him as a man of integrity who selflessly gives his life to our community while he ministers to youth. "He has given so much and asked for so little in return," Buckley said. "I am a life that is changed because of his influence."