Degree Program Journey
My name is Kenny Sallee and I am on a degree program journey at Christian Leaders Institute. I’m known in the area where I live as Cap’n Kenny. My ancestral families are Native American (Cherokee) and European Immigrants (Swedish, English, and French). I am a descendant of a late 17th century French Huguenot refugee who settled along the James River village of Manakintowne in the Colony of Virginia. I’m married, have a daughter and two granddaughters. My wife, Nancy, and I live in a small community north of Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S.A. We were married in 2014 after we had both lost our spouses a few years earlier just days apart. My late wife, Barbara, passed away from heart failure after suffering from a stroke and Nancy’s late husband, Bill, passed away from cancer caused by agent orange while serving in Vietnam.
I’m retired from both the U.S. Military and U.S. Federal Civil Service with over 40 years of service. Now I’m a U.S. Merchant Marine Captain and operate a small charter/tour boat company on the Great Lakes during the summer months.
As a child, I was raised Baptist, although we seldom attended church. My father worked in the construction trade after he left the military and we traveled to wherever he worked. I attended 14 different schools before graduating from high school. I enlisted in the military right out of high school and was sent to fight in Vietnam shortly afterward. I continued my military career after Vietnam serving in the Continental United States and Pacific regions.
I first “found” the Lord a few years after I returned from Vietnam while looking for an answer to my question “why?”. Why did the war in Vietnam happen and why did so many people have to die, from both sides in that war. I started asking that question some 40 years ago and still have never found a satisfactory answer. But, while in search of my answer, I looked to religion. I attended services of many different Christian denominations. I got involved with street ministry and music ministry. After several years of devoting all my free time to “religion”, my marriage fell apart and I left the ministry wanting nothing more to do with “religion” and drifted away from Jesus.
After two additional failed marriages, I married a lady that I had known since before I went to Vietnam. We were married for ten wonderful years before she passed away in my arms from heart failure at the age of 58. After her death God heard my “ze’akah”, crying out in pain for months as a broken man. Things started happening in my life after her death that I could only credit God for. God began to shape me and mold me for a new mission, a mission to be his message. Things happened that changed my views of life, and the afterlife… and of God. I met new people that started bringing Jesus back into my life. I’m remarried now to a wonderful lady that brought me back into the church. She, too, had lost her husband just a couple of days before my wife passed away. Together we are rebuilding our lives after we lost our spouses and worship in a small Lutheran church in Wisconsin.
I am pursuing the studies with Christian Leaders Institute (CLI) on my degree program journey because I want a better understanding of the Bible and of God’s purpose for me. I want to use the training I receive from CLI to further my walk with God and to serve my community as a chaplain to our local military veterans service organizations, providing pastoral care to those outside the church and by starting a Christian faith mentoring and counseling center to the unchurched.
Through Christian Leaders Institute I have earned the Associate of Divinity Degree and have been ordained as a deacon minister through Christian Leaders Alliance. I currently hold the ministry office of chaplain for the Oconto Wisconsin area veterans service organizations (American Legion, AMVETS, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)). In 2016, I started an online ministry blog sharing daily scripture readings and devotions in seven different languages that have been read throughout the world with over 165,000 page views as of date. In May 2018, I started working as a volunteer Veteran-to-Veteran Hospice Program visitation minister with Unity Hospice serving Northeast Wisconsin.
My goal at CLI is to earn a Bachelor of Divinity (B.Div) with a Chaplaincy Emphasis showing that I have completed a respected course of training to become a well-versed “ministry of presence” chaplain, well-grounded in faith and pastoral practices. After completion at CLI, I hope to be able to transfer my credits into Calvin Theological Seminary’s Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership (MA) degree program concentrating in Pastoral Care. Having a scholarship at Christian Leaders Institute is helping me achieve my goals for my degree program journey by making it affordable for a retired soldier like me to advance in my studies.