When I was just a young boy a wise old man on my paper route who fancied himself a sage once told me that life was just an obstacle to get from where we are now to where we are ultimately going. I know in my own life that has been true indeed. So how is it that I am here today, the new Pastor of the Galax, Pulaski, Radford, and Pearisburg district? What events brought me to this point in my journey?
I was born and for the most part raised Catholic. Through a truly amazing turn of events that include both traumatic upsets in my life and new found happiness I entered the Adventist church at the mere young age of 19 years. Had you known me at that junction in my life you would understand why it was such a miracle. In fact had God not intervened in my life, the direction I was heading may well of lead to eventual self-destruction (but that is a story for another time).
There I found myself, 19 years of age, with a great new found happiness and joy, yet still lost in the sea of the large congregation I had joined. Have you ever heard it said that the loneliest place is in a crowd? There were so many people, and I knew none of them. And while in time they all would become my most dearest friends at first they just seemed so strange. They ate funny compared to me; they dressed different compared to me; and they talked different compared to me. Even the words “Happy Sabbath” at first seemed foreign to me. And what was haystacks, or stripples for that matter I had no clue! All I knew is that I loved Jesus, and I wanted to follow Him all the way not matter how strange this experience was to me. One night, overjoyed with this new truth I had learned, yet perplexed about how it fit into my current-chaotic teenage life I knelt by my bed and in earnest prayer inquired of the Lord what He would have me do now that I knew this great message. The answer came impressed upon me so powerfully, it almost seemed auditable and it was like light passed before my closed eyes and I was left with the impression, “Give my people my Word”.
It was that simple and that short, “Give my people my Word”. You may think it is simple but to a new babe in Christ who just happened to be an inner city poverty stricken teenager it was a task that seemed incomprehensible. I had no money, no education, I was shy and introverted, not to mention I looked like I had just walked out of rock video on MTV, who would listen to what I had to say about Jesus? I counseled with another wise old man in my path of life, this time a great retired pastor I had come to know. He gave me some sound sober advice, “Vince, being a pastor is hard work, it is hard on the family, it has lots of stresses and burdens, I advise anyone who asks me this to avoid it at all cost. Do all you can to escape it, run if you can. But in the end if you can not avoid it and you can’t stay away from it, then you will know you are truly called and will be blessed in the work.”
This is my story, no matter what I did in life, it was never enough unless it was working for Jesus. I studied and worked as a counselor, social worker, and mental health case worker, and I was sure I was doing the work of God because I was able to help so many people. Yet, I was still not preaching the word of God. But God was not done with me yet. When God asks you to do something He will provide a means. This is why the Apostle Paul was able to thank God, “being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6
Perhaps the best gift God has given me outside of the gift of salvation and fellowship with Him is the gift of my wonderful wife Tina who completes and complements me with her gifts in every way I have need. Eventually her work as a nurse took us from our home in Canada to North Carolina. I went from being a fulltime social worker and part time church board member to elder. From elder I went to lay-evangelist and from lay evangelist to new church planter and leader. After being a lay pastor /leader of a new Church plant for two years, I knew in my heart that I could never stop doing this work. It had become my passion, my awakening desire, my very oxygen.
Now after two years at Southern Adventist University, and having completed my Theology degree, I have arrived here not of any of my own efforts or works, but simply because God called a confused chaotic teenage who knelt by His bed and prayed. I pledged my life to His service, and He has been working in my life all these years till this point, and I know He will even continue untill the end.
To put it as simple as I can; I have come here to be your pastor, not for any reason with in my own self, but simply because I have heard the voice of God in my life and here I stand today ready to answer for that is all I can do.
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6:8