by Nell Mohney – 9-5-15

   On this Labor Day weekend, when the dignity and privilege of work are celebrated, let’s remember that our NELL W. MOHNEYprimary purpose in life is not just to make money. More importantly, we should be concerned with building a life.

   A recent report on retirees, compiled by AARP, indicates that persons over 65 who retire and continue to work live longer than those without any plans to stay productive.

   Perhaps the question we should be asking ourselves is the question which God asked when he called Moses to lead the children out of Egypt. The question was, “What do you have in your hand?” Moses replied, “It’s a rod.” God commanded, “Cast it on the ground.” Immediately, the rod became a serpent. Frightened, Moses turned away from it, but God further commanded, “Stretch forth your hand and pick it up by the tail.” It became a rod again.

   I believe that this was God’s way of saying, “Give me what you have. I will bless it and others will be blessed through you.”

   A good example of this is George Washington Carver, who had only a peanut in his hand. He was an African-American man who had been born of a slave mother in Joplin, Mo., during the Civil War. When he was only a few months old, soldiers kidnapped him. Seeing the distress of his slave mother, her owner, Moses Carver, sent men out to find the child. He even gave a valuable racehorse to get the baby back.

   Freed after the war, George Washington Carver determined that he would work his way through college and become a botanist. After he graduated from college, he was invited by Booker T. Washington to teach at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He worked there for the remainder of his life. One of the fantastic things he did there was to take the common peanut and discover 300 uses for it. Hence, peanuts became an important Southern crop.

   So on this special holiday, let’s determine to use our talents and leave the world a little better place than when we found it.

   Contact Nell Mohney at



   Even as a teenager, I never laughed at funny stories about mothers-in-law because I hoped to have one and be NELL W. MOHNEYone someday. Fortunately, that’s one area where I hit the jackpot.

   “Mother Mohney,” as I called her, was born in Kansas, but lived most of her growing-up years in Paris, Ky. She married a young doctor from Lexington and they reared their four sons there.

   As I watched my mother-in-law in action, I became convinced that there was nothing she couldn’t do. She was an accomplished pianist, a master gardener whose flower arrangements won blue ribbons at flower shows, was a well-known Sunday School teacher and entertained often and well.

   Most of all, she loved her family. Both Dr. and Mrs. Mohney encouraged their four sons to follow their own dreams, and each ended up in a different profession. One was a doctor, an ophthalmologist; one owned and managed the largest private dairy in Kentucky; one was in sales; and my husband was a Christian pastor.

   The boys were very different, but their commonalities were their love and respect for their parents, a strong belief in and commitment to the Christian faith and a very positive outlook on life. Individually, they believed they could do whatever was needed to accomplish their goals. Much of this life pattern came from both parents, but especially from their mother. She loved and encouraged her sons, and they trusted her judgment.

   You’d think that in such a tightly knit family there would be no room for the girls who married into it, but you would be wrong. Mother Mohney recognized our differences and helped us to feel totally accepted. Actually, the four daughters-in-law were as different as the men they married. Although each of our families have lived in different states, there were regular family reunions.

   Today, all the sons have been deceased for some years, and only one other daughter-in-law and I are still living. On this Mother’s Day, Bettie Mohney in Dallas, Texas, and I will remember our own mothers and a very special mother-in-law, Clarine Wilson Mohney.


I met Adam Hamilton before he was famous. In 1996, my husband and I were members of the United

Methodist Foundation for Evangelism with headquarters at Lake Junaluska, N.C. Each year, the foundation names a pastor who is doing excellent work in evangelism. That year, Hamilton, a 25-year-old pastor who looked even younger, was given the award.

Before receiving it, he preached to members of the foundation and his sermon was so compelling, I can almost give a point-by-point of the entire message. There was no “razzmatazz” in his preaching; it was a simple but powerful presentation of the Gospel. I was deeply moved in my head and heart.

The young pastor had asked his bishop if he might plant a church in his hometown of Leawood, Kan. Permission was granted, and Hamilton planted the church with four members — him, his wife and their two daughters. Today, the Church of the Resurrection has more than 20,000 members.

In the narthex of the church is printed the threefold focus of the church: First, reaching the nonreligious and the nominally religious, and equipping and recruiting them to become committed followers of Jesus Christ. Second, equip and inspire members to live their faith in mission to the community and the world. Third, act as a catalyst to renew the United Methodist Church.

He has one additional dream: to train and equip young pastors. Each year, he has a Church Institute where young pastors from across the denomination come to relate to older and more experienced pastors and learn from Hamilton’s staff. The Church Reporter magazine named Hamilton’s church as the most influential mainline church in America. PBS’s Religion and Ethics newsletter named Hamilton as one of 10 people of faith to watch.

Several years ago, Adam Hamilton spoke at a conference for pastors in my church. I was impressed anew with his humility and common sense approach to Christian ministry. Of his 14 books, I believe that his best is “24 Hours That Changed the World.”I know that reading it immeasurably enriched my Easter experience this year.


Nell Mohney: The story of an extraordinary girl

March 23rd, 2013

Thirty-six years ago tomorrow, my third article appeared in the Chattanooga Free Press on Palm Sunday. It was titled “The Story of a Girl Named Ann.”

Interestingly, this week two people mentioned they’d like an update on Ann Kiemel, the focus of the column. Since 1977, Ann has married, reared four sons and lost her husband to cancer. Yet her ability to communicate the Christian faith still moves people to commit their lives to the Christ of the resurrection.

In 1977, Ann Kiemel opened each of her presentations with the words “Hi, my name is Ann, and I’m an ordinary person, but I’m connected to an extraordinary God. God and love and I are out to change the world.”

In 1978, I bought one of her books in anticipation of her speaking in my church. I read it on a flight to Richmond, Va. The man seated beside me asked, “Is that book about Ann Kiemel?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Do you know her?”

Smiling, the man said, “Yes, and I’m in the book. I’m the architect on page 23.”

Without encouragement, the man continued, “Ann was youth director in our church in Long Beach, Calif., before she went to the East Coast. Our son, Rick, and all the other high school kids adored her.

“One morning when I got up at 4:30 a.m. for a flight, I noticed that the lights were on in Rick’s room. Now he is a sharp kid, but we have to drag him out of bed at 7:30 a.m. Thinking something must be wrong, I opened his door to find him kneeling by his bed on which was an open Bible. ‘Rick, is anything wrong? Are you having a problem?’

“‘No, Dad. Ann is speaking in Detroit, and our youth group pledged to pray for her. My hour is from 4 to 5 a.m. We’re out to change the world, and it will take lots of prayer and work.'”

As I put down that 36-year-old article, I realized I have a message for my readers at the beginning of Holy Week.

“Hi, my name is Nell Mohney. I am an ordinary person connected to an extraordinary God, and God and love and I are out to change the world. Will you join us?

Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at

Original story:






  1. Ms. Nell Mohney,

    I have enjoyed your articles in the morning paper for years.
    You are a very big blessing to me. May God richly bless you.
    Thanks for all the encouragement. Love & prayers.

    Rachel Waters

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