history of klife

Since 1926, Kanakuk Kamps, a Christian summer adventure sports camp, has been ministering to kids in an athletic environment in and around Branson, Missouri. Since Kanakuk was highly successful in reaching teenagers for Christ, parents voiced their need for follow-up ministry to continue their spiritual growth throughout the year. Joe White, owner of Kanakuk, and Richard Beach, then a Kamp director, began to talk and pray about this need. What could be done to continue the experience students encountered with the Lord at camp?


In 1979, Joe and Richard met with laymen from Colorado and campers parents from St. Louis. All parties involved shared similar insights about facilitating the growth of kids’ faith throughout the year. The purpose of KLIFE would be a discipleship ministry that would provide an ongoing environment for students to continue their spiritual growth.

The first KLIFE ministry began in St. Louis in 1979. In the fall of 1982 the second KLIFE chapter began in Kansas City. In subsequent years, with the continuous outpouring of God’s blessing, KLIFE Ministries now reaches from Florida to Wyoming.

After several years of development under the leadership of Doulos Ministries, KLIFE grew to the point of requiring its own parent organization. In the fall of 1989, KLIFE Ministries, Inc. was formed. In 1996, a permanent National Board was added to the structure of the National Support Center, and in 1997 the NSC headquartered in Conway, Arkansas.

In the summer of 2002, KLIFE moved it’s National Support Center back to the place of its birth, Branson, Missouri. This move allowed KLIFE to be closer to it’s sister ministries, Kanakuk Kamps, Kids Across America, and the Kanakuk Institute.

As of the fall of 2015, KLIFE has 31 chapters in 10 different states.

History of Kirksville KLIFE

K-Life, or K-Klub, as it was first known dates back to 1993 when a group of high school students started meeting in the basement of Ben and Betsy Hickman’s home. With the help of several Truman State University volunteers and the group of dedicated parents, the K-Klub started to grow. 

In 1994, 12 families concerned with the void in appropriate youth activities in our community came together in search of solutions. That year the group determined they needed to offer youth a safe, supportive recreational environment and programming for youth ages 6-18. After careful consideration it was decided that an affiliation with the national organization of K-Life would be pursued. 

The national K-life organization came to visit Kirksville to determine if a K-Life chapter could be successful. The national organization was not very optimistic as they told the Kirksville families they did not feel like Kirksville could handle such an undertaking. The Board felt differently, especially in light of the number of potential student volunteers at Truman and because of the number of Kirksville students who were going to Kanakuk Kamp during the summer. It took 6-12 months, but the Kirksville families convinced the national board they could make a chapter successful. Kirksville is now one of 44 K-Life chapters nationwide. 

The first official Junior High Klub was held on Sept. 17, 1996, with 12 kids and seven leaders. Now the Middle School Klub – as it is now called – averages 45 students and has 15 leaders.

The first official Senior High Klub was held on Sept. 19, 1996, with 23 kids. Now the Senior High Klub averages 20 students and has 15 leaders. 

In addition, the K-Life organization added a Little K Klub in 1996.  The Little K Klubs average 65 kids students and 12 leaders. 

One of the key components of K-Life are small group activities which involve staff and Truman volunteers meetings weekly with groups of 3-10 youth to have more one on one discussion about making good choices and showing the youth how they can have fun without using drugs or alcohol. Currently there are over 230 youth involved in one of twenty-four small groups which are led by a college age mentor.  Kirksville K-Life has 30 college students leading small groups.

K-Life’s newest out reach program began in January of 2010.  K-Life has partnered with Preferred Family, a rehab program for youth, to help at risk teens to make better decisions.  In each month, K-life staff and volunteers offer bible studies and monthly events to as many as 25 high school students who are in the program.  In a year’s time, K-Life is in contact with over 120 from across the State through the Preferred Program.   

Since the early days, there have been several different meeting locations. The Hickman basement location gave way to various rental houses on Jefferson Street, Normal Avenue and Osteopathy Street.


With the rising numbers of participants, the Board decided to purchase land in 2001 to build a K-Life House. Ground was broken on Sept. 9, 2003, and the new K-Life facility at 1200 Jamison Street opened their doors in January 2005. The 5,000 square foot youth activity center created adequate space to safely accommodate the increasing numbers of youth participants. The facility includes a “Club Room” that provides a stage for skits and role-playing activities as well as seating that will allow each participant to view the stage. The facility houses “Small Group Rooms,” and it offers a space for kids to “hang out” on the weekend. 

During the summer of 2007, the K-Life Board concluded that building an additional K-Life facility would be beneficial due to the large increases in the number of youth participating in the program. The new construction consists of two- 2 bedroom apartments and a girls club room. Each apartment is 900 square feet. The “Club Room,” also 900 square feet, is designed as a meeting room for small group meetings and get togethers.

The staff members are assisted by about 50 Truman volunteers. 

For more information, contact Wade Pelc at 660-988-2789 or by e-mail at wade.pelc@klife.com

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