At age 17, Paul Chitwood had been a professing Christian for nine years. However, he said time and complacency had left him in a state of rebellion against the Lord.
One day, Chitwood, his two brothers and a friend were on their way to a local fishing hole, when his older brother clipped the front bumper of a truck going around a curve. The impact spun the car around, causing the truck to broadside the vehicle and spin it off into a rock wall.
Chitwood climbed out of the car, but the other three young men were knocked unconscious. Unsure of whether his brothers and friend would live, Chitwood dragged them from the vehicle and for 30 minutes waited by himself for emergency
help to arrive.
“The Lord used that to get my attention and show me that I am not invincible and that I did not have an unlimited amount of time to do what I said I was going to do and that is live my life for Him,” Chitwood said. “Emotionally and spiritually the Lord cut me deeply through that experience, which was something that needed to be done.”
All four men survived the accident. Chitwood came out with minor injuries and a renewed desire to serve the Lord.
Chitwood, assistant professor of evangelism at Southern, graduated from Cumberland College in 1992 with a bachelor of arts in biblical studies, and from there it was off to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned his master of divinity in 1995.
In 2001 Chitwood graduated from the Billy Graham School with a Ph.D. in evangelism and church growth. Chitwood said the years working on his doctorate were the most formative of his Christian life.
“I was really introduced to apologetics for the fi rst time and some of the deeper issues in orthodox theology,” he said. “In particular, a theology of evangelism seminar under Tim Beougher helped me understand the glory of the Gospel message and the glory of Christ in giving His life for sinners.”
Chitwood describes his wife Michelle as the Lord’s gift to him and best friend and said he enjoys watching her work with their children, Daniel, 11, and Anna, 9.
In April 2008, Chitwood was elected chairman of the board of trustees of the International Mission Board of the SBC. Chitwood previously served a four-year term as an IMB trustee, and said working with the missions agency has been one of the greatest privileges of his ministry. He served as chairman of the mission personnel committee of the IMB in 2006. Chitwood serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church in Mount Washington and also recently completed a one-year term as president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
From his conversion at age 8 to the momentous automobile accident at age 17 until today, Chitwood said he recognizes the hand of God on his life.
“The Lord has been far more gracious to me than I have ever deserved,” he said.