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Minister’s mission: One-time drug dealer Ken Troutman devotes life to Christ

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By Mark Ambrogi

 

Ken Troutman spent his youth dealing drugs.

Since he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, his main mission is to sell others on Christ’s teachings. He and his wife Patti lead MyChurch Indy, 10710 Pendleton Pike. The church, which has one service at 10 a.m. Sundays, opened earlier this year under its new name. The Geist residents, who are both ministers, previously led Christian Faith Centre in Indianapolis.

“I had been doing drugs since I was 12, so I had seven formative years that were kind of toasted,” Ken said.

Ken, now 60, was taking and selling barbiturates by the time he was 14. But he stopped taking barbiturates after he watched a friend get robbed but was too incapacitated to do anything about it. But he still sold and took LSD and marijuana, among other illicit drugs.

“I guess I was a natural-born entrepreneur, I’d sell enough so I could get mine for free, then golly gee, I saw I could sell enough to support myself,” Ken said. “I never took into consideration the physical ramifications, long-term dangers and how it affected relationships.”

Patti had just graduated from high school in California and moved with her family to Indianapolis when she met Ken in 1973. They married the next year when Ken was still a junior at John Marshall High School. He graduated from Marshall in ’75.

Patti shared the story of Jesus with him. Ken said the story of Jesus was a fantastic one.

“I had never heard it before, but I didn’t believe it. It was just a fantastic story,” he said. “I was too entrenched in my lifestyle. Patti had a serious decision to make. She is either going to maintain core convictions or jump ship and hang with me. I looked like Jesus (with waist-length hair), but I wasn’t anything like him.”

When his daughter was about to turn 2 years old, he was moved to change.

“I’m observing all the changes she has made going from so dependent to more independent, and I haven’t changed at all through all my teenage years.” Ken said. “I’m going nowhere, and that, combined with these preachers Patti always has on and some of the music she continued to listen to, created a conflict and an inner hunger.”

Life changed at 10:40 p.m. Feb. 8, 1978, an indelible stamp on his memory.

“The night that I went to a crusade and gave my life to Christ was when that fantastic story had some application to my reality,” Ken said. “At that time, I had 15 pounds of marijuana to sell. There was a new sense of right and wrong, and improper and appropriate, when I gave my life to Christ.

“I called my guy the day after and said, ‘Would you take this 15 pounds back?’”

Patti had already been a Christian but had fallen into some bad habits with Ken.

“I followed in his footsteps, but two months after he accepted Christ, I re-dedicated my life,” Patti said. “Our whole lives changed forever.”

Ken said their lives no longer revolved around the drug culture; they revolved around a church culture.

“We tried to bring the old friends with us because we knew they were lost,” Ken said.

But most weren’t ready to listen, he added.

A sign painter by trade, Ken became a licensed minister in 1984. He and his wife began the church in 1990 in some various centers. It moved into a spot in Lawrence Township for four years, then spent 22 years on 56th Street in Lawrence.

Patti became a minister in the mid-1990s.

Tim Curtis and his wife Barbara have been members of the Troutmans’ church from the first service in the Troutmans’ living room.

“It started out as a small, close-knit group, and we’ve been with them the whole time,” Tim said. “They’ve been like family to us.”

Tim said Ken’s past makes him more relatable to some people.

“Sometimes people think a pastor is on a pedestal and unapproachable, but Pastor Ken is just real,” Tim said. “He doesn’t mince words. He’s a unique individual.”

FAMILY AFFAIR

The Troutmans’ three children are all involved in the ministry. Bethany, 41, manages the church’s kids’ ministry and social media. Amber, 32, helps leads the worship music. Jordan, 38, a minister, serves as pastor over the youth leadership team. His wife, Stephanie, helps as well.

Ken primarily delivers the sermons, with Patti and Jordan filling in on occasion.

“We have a great congregation, loving people,” Patti said.

Ken said there have been more new visitors in the last few months at the new location than two years in the previous spot.

“We build people. We want to frame lives and outreach to the community,” Patti said. “Our music is contemporary. We have a lot of young people and their families. We want to be a draw for millennials, that age and younger.”

Patti said they believe people come in to hear the word of God.

“And the word of God changes people, anyway, because truth will change people,” she said. “We’re very accepting.”

Ken said he gave up any fire-and-brimstone-style sermons years ago.

“It didn’t work,” Ken said. “The job of the church isn’t to condemn, convict and let everybody know what you are against. The job of the church is (to) be the light, the kindness and goodness of God. People need to know more what followers of Jesus are for as opposed to what they are against.”

For more, visit mychurchindy.com.


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