Jim Kelly’s wife Jill and her Christian Testimony (Part 2)

Jill Kelly and Jim Kelly

A powerful testimony.

Jim Kelly felt ‘free’ giving his heart to God

Aug. 03–DARIEN — Tears welled up in Jim Kelly’s eyes Tuesday as he described what brought him to Christianity as his marriage was nearly falling apart.

The moment of clarity, he said, came after his son, Hunter, had died.

“I wanted to see my son again,” the former Buffalo Bills quarterback recalled. “I wanted to see him do the things in heaven that he wasn’t able to do here on Earth.”

Jim and Jill Kelly took the stage Tuesday afternoon at the four-day Christian festival known as Kingdom Bound at Darien Lake Resort to describe to hundreds of people why they had turned to God.

For Jim Kelly, the moment came after losing Hunter and on the verge of losing his marriage. He realized, he said, that he could lose three things if he “kept living the life that I was living in the past.”

“Number one, I wouldn’t be able to see Hunter,” Kelly said. “Number two, I wouldn’t be able to cherish the rest of my life with the woman I love.”

“Number three,” Kelly said before the words choked up in his throat. The tent grew quiet. His face turned red and tears welled in his eyes.

“My daughters,” Kelly said as he looked out to Erin and Camryn, seated in the first row of a long tent packed with people. “I want to be the father to them that they deserve.”

The Kellys’ 45-minute talk, filled with laughter and tears, was one of the first times the couple has talked publicly together about the upcoming release of a new memoir, “Without a Word,” by Jill Kelly.

The Kellys’ story of loss and redemption was one of dozens of emotional seminars that filled the four-day Christian music festival, which will wrap up today. Wednesday.

The annual event is expected to draw more than 45,000 people to the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center and has turned the campground into a city of worshipping teenagers, parents and youth leaders.

“It’s quite an experience to see this many people and especially to see people worshipping unashamedly,” said Ken Metzger, a Clarence resident who attended the festival for the first time with his wife. “I really believe that when the Lord touches your life, you just don’t hold anything back.”

Jill Kelly, who said she turned to Christianity shortly after Hunter’s diagnosis with Krabbe disease, told the audience she was skeptical when her husband first told her he had decided to turn his life over to God.

Jill Kelly appeared surprised at times when her husband teared up on stage.

She recalled first meeting Kelly at a party at his house and refusing to give him her phone number. She was 21, dating someone else and determined not to become “another notch on Jim’s belt.”

Jim Kelly eventually won her over. The first few years of their life together, she said, were filled with Super Bowl glitz and parties.

“I just want you to know that, yes, we experienced that side of this world,” Jill Kelly said. “What fame and celebrity and all those things can give you, but they were all empty, apart from friends.”

Jim Kelly described his life as a “roller coaster ride.”

Everything changed, she said, when Hunter was born.

It was then, she said, that she turned to God.

“I ran after God,” Jill Kelly recalled. “And Jim ran from God.”

The running, Jim Kelly said, began in the locker room in the early days of his football career. It was there, he said, that religion “was pushed on me to the point where it turned me off.”

It wasn’t until years later, after the death of his Hunter, that he found himself in the counseling room at The Chapel at CrossPoint with his brother.

Later he told his wife he felt “free.”

“I had no idea what free meant when I said ‘free,'” Kelly said. “I just knew that when I decided to give myself, my body, my heart, everything to God, it just felt so good, and I said to Jill, ‘If I would have known it would have felt this good, I would have done it a long time ago.'”

To see more of The Buffalo News, N.Y., or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.buffalonews.com . Copyright (c) 2010, The Buffalo News, N.Y. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit http://www.mctinfoservices.com , e-mail services@mctinfoservices.com , or call 866-280-5210 (outside the United States, call +1 312-222-4544).

© Copyright 2011 LexisNexis. All rights reserved.
© Copyright 2010 Buffalo News
Advertisement
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: