Evangelism is a full-time job for 84-year-old Ken Deck. Since becoming a Christian 23 years ago, at age 61, he has devoted many hours to praying for revival, prison ministry, Scripture teaching and trying unique ways to share the gospel.
“I always thought I was a Christian,” Ken begins, explaining his conversion story to Eternity. “I knew about Jesus and I went to church when I was a young kid. I have got some very strong Christian relatives, so there’s a lot of Christianity in my family background.”
But when he turned 60, life events led Ken to re-examine his faith. A few years earlier he fell victim to an act of fraud and some time later, his wife, Helen, was very sick with cancer.
“I was down and had lost faith in man,” Ken admits. “So my wife suggested that we start regularly going to church because there I might find answers to all of my questions about life.”
Ken and Helen began attending the local church in their North Shore Sydney suburb, which they had previously only visited at Christmas and Easter.
“During a service there one day, I realised that I wasn’t a Christian and that I had to make a public decision to follow Jesus,” says Ken.
“From that day forward, my life changed from being a self-centred man to working for Jesus.” – Ken Deck
Following this decision, Ken asked to be baptised and, a week later, confirmed in front of the congregation.
“From that day forward, my life changed from being a self-centred man to working for Jesus,” says Ken.
“The first thing I did was to volunteer to clean the church kitchen.”
It wasn’t long before Ken was approached to help teach Scripture in a local public school.
“Someone once told me that if you want to learn about a subject, the best way to do that is to become a teacher because you’ve got to study it then,” says Ken. “So I took on Scripture teaching and I did that for about 16 years.
“The Lord’s called me in so many different areas. I can talk for hours about how he’s involved me with other things!” he adds.
“I became a leader at beach mission. And I’ve been attending Kairos prison ministry now for nearly 20 years.”
Not long after Ken gave his life to Christ, Helen’s health deteriorated. She died in 2002, three years after she and Ken had committed to regularly attend church.
“I thought, what’s a simple way of starting up a conversation with someone that would make sharing the gospel easy?” – Ken Deck
Over the following years, Ken continued to deepen his commitment to sharing the gospel. Then, unexpectedly, seven years after Helen’s death, God brought another Christian woman into his life – Sally Anne. Sally Anne’s husband had also passed away, she didn’t have children and her family of origin lived overseas. “She was pretty lonely,” says Ken.
While Sally Anne attended a different church (from where she also served as a Scripture teacher), mutual friends arranged for them to meet.
“We met at a function and love blossomed. But we agreed that while we both had a love for each other, our love for Jesus was stronger,” says Ken.
Ken and Sally Anne married 13 years ago, in 2009. Ken describes their marriage as “a fantastic journey” in which the pair have been equally committed to prayer.
They lead a weekly prayer group at their local church. And for the past ten years, Ken has been praying for revival with a men’s prayer group. The group – made up of men from numerous churches on Sydney’s Upper North Shore – meets in their home every fortnight.
Alongside these groups, Ken says during his “personal time with the Lord”, he has spent a lot of time thinking about “how we can get revival right across Australia”.
“I thought, what’s a simple way of starting up a conversation with someone that would make sharing the gospel easy?” he explains.
“And then I thought, I can make a nice little badge.”
“We are all called to share the good news.” – Ken Deck
In designing the badge, Ken drew upon the “salvation bracelet” often used as a church craft activity – where each different coloured bead represents a part of the “salvation story”.
He had a few different badge samples made before settling on a design.
“The first time I wore it, I had two ladies comment on it on separate occasions. One said, ‘Oh, what a cute little badge. What is it?’ And I was able to share the gospel. And another one said, ‘That’s a beautiful badge,'” Ken reflects.
“So after those comments, and the fact that it certainly made it easy to share the gospel message, I decided to get a lot made.”
Most days now, both Sally Anne and Ken wear a badge. He lists more recent incidents where the badge has sparked conversations and the chance to share the gospel.
“Every time you do it, it’s becoming more and more natural. It’s something that prompts the opportunity to share the good news,” Ken enthuses.
To make the job easier for badge-wearers, Ken has designed a small accompanying leaflet that explains how each colour in the badge relates to the salvation journey and offers wearers a few next steps if their hearer wants to make a commitment to Christ.
“It’s just not something nice to wear. One has got to be compassionate about those in need, and understand the benefits of sharing the gospel with people,” says Ken earnestly.
When asked why he is so passionate about this venture, Ken replies: “We’re not all called to be crusaders. We’re not all called to be evangelists, but we are all called to share the good news. It’s our calling from the Bible.”
And he’s quietly confident that this little badge could lead to big things for God’s kingdom – perhaps even revival.
“I can see it taking off – it might take years, but I’m confident of getting 100,000 printed over the next couple of years,” he says, adding, “I can’t take any kudos for it. It was all God’s work because he led me.”