I prayed. I studied. I had anxiety attacks. I couldn’t figure out what to say. Then through an odd set of circumstances, I happened upon an idea–donkeys. I could talk about the donkeys of the Bible and draw application from their lives to ours. Bear with me, as a sixteen year old, it sounded like a good idea.
I’ll save the details of my first sermon for another conversation. The point here is that my pastor helped me. The twenty or so people at the prayer meeting loved me and spoke into my life even after I called them a bunch of burrows! Moreover, I was beginning to find my voice.
My pastor’s name was Ron Johnson. He walked with me. I watched him. We took car rides together and talked ministry. He let me preach more at Wednesday night prayer meetings. Then Sunday night services. Finally, the big game…Sunday Morning!
I haven’t told you something. I was one of only a handful of African-Americans in this all white church. Many people of this congregation were encouraging and loving toward me. I only found out a few years ago that all the while that my pastor was developing me, he and his family were receiving threats upon their safety because of their commitment to me.
Today, Ron Johnson sits with his wife every Sunday morning as I have the privilege to proclaim the words of God. He’s not a pastor anymore (not officially that is). And I am forever grateful to this man for helping me find my voice. I hope he likes it as well.