I went to a local church to hear a young man preach this week. Joshua Houston, 19, was preaching and his brother, Jacob, was the song leader.
It was a blessing for me to hear these gentlemen minister the gospel so effectively. I was excited for them knowing that they both had long lives still ahead of them, and they had chosen such a wonderful path of Christian service.
Recently, another group of young men shared the preaching duties at a weekend of ministry held at Shelbyville Central High School. Luke Faulk, Blake Smith and Chance Barton took their stands for Christ to another public venue and preached the gospel in the auditorium at the local high school.
It blesses me to see young people taking a stand for Jesus Christ.
I was attending Bible Camp one summer when I was in junior high school when I received my call from God to preach. I remember the day, and I can still see myself in that chapel realizing what God wanted me to do with my life.
I spent some rocky years after that, one foot in church and the other doing my own thing. Then one day, I gave in to the "dark side," and I walked away from church and the things of God.
Then, one spring day in 1974, I surrendered my life to Christ, and my journey changed completely. I have lived my life in ministry since that time.
Over the years I have had the privilege of helping many young men find their way out of a life of oppression and addiction, and a good number of them are serving the Lord in ministry today.
I am thrilled to see young men and women preaching the gospel and ministering in music and Christian education in the local church.
I met a young man named Justin years ago in Memphis. He had been in trouble with drug abuse and was facing legal issues and possible jail time. I went to court on his behalf to ask the judge to let our ministry try to help him. God worked it out and Justin came into our program. He soon surrendered his life to Christ.
He spent a year with us at Memphis Teen Challenge, and after he completed the program, he was accepted into Bible College. The weeks leading up to going off to school were rocky ones for Justin, and one night I received a phone call from his mother asking for my help.
Justin had gone out with some old friends and had used again and he was thinking there was no way he could go on to Bible College. He felt like he had completely failed God and was of no use to Him anymore.
I went out to his parents' home and met with Justin. He and I went for a long walk up the road there outside Memphis and we talked and cried and prayed together. Justin asked for God's forgiveness and once again, surrendered his life to the call of God.
He went on to Bible College, graduated, and today is the lead pastor at a church in the state of Washington. He and his wife, Hannah, have two children, and they are serving in ministry together.
God calls imperfect people to preach the gospel. We mess up sometimes, but God is always quick to forgive. We don't live perfect lives as preachers, but most of us are working hard to live a life that is pleasing to God.
I enjoy watching young men and women start out in ministry. It reminds me of where I have come from, and the great God who has traveled with me every step of this wonderful journey.
When I heard Joshua preach this week (he did a marvelous job by the way), I was reminded of myself. I remember my first sermons. I've come a long way since then, but I realize I still have a long way to go.
I loved seeing the signs around town the last month or so advertising the gospel services that were coming up. Those signs said, "Got Jesus? I Do!"
It was a group of young preachers who were proclaiming to the community in which they live, "I've got Jesus! And I want to tell you about Him!"
-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.