Continued Ministry Training

Continued Ministry Training at CLI

My name is John Thomas, and I receive continued ministry training at Christian Leaders Institute. I am currently living in the USA right outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in a little town called Chickamauga in the state of Georgia. I grew up in the center of apple country in Edneyville, NC. Our family consisted of my father Richard (Rio) Thomas, my mother Joyce, and my sister Julie, and me. My father and mother had a modest farm in comparison to most but provided for all of us, and we were a small happy family. My father worked multiple jobs regularly. Besides operating the home farm, the most consistent position he held was as a police officer.

Untimely Death and Great Change

Early on the morning of February 8, 1974, my father woke up to make coffee before he headed off to work just as he always did. However, that morning, I awoke to a commotion in the house. When I walked into the kitchen, I saw my father lying on the floor from his third heart attack. He was pronounced dead that morning at the age of 45.

All of our lives changed suddenly that morning. My mom was only 43 years old and found herself a widow raising two young teenagers alone. The pressure from that loss began to be too much for her to bear. So, she admitted herself into a retreat center in Wildwood, Georgia. She sent my sister and me to stay with various family and friends over the next year.

Through this experience and working through my hurts and wounds, I looked for replacement mentors in those families. I processed the pain through my mindsets that eventually grew into spiritual strongholds. Those spiritual strongholds led me into a life of rebellion. I set myself up against any authority while finding multiple ways of meeting the desires of my flesh. I wanted to hide the hurt and insecurities with my calloused reasoning and decisions.

Reached Bottom and Remembered Jesus

After living a life of rebellion, drugs, alcohol, and immorality for the next 14 years, I found myself at the bottom of the grave I dug for my illusionary shell of a man. I was living in a share cropper’s house out in the middle of nowhere. It was freezing because the floorboards of the shack were a half inch apart in places and the carpet rolled across the floor when the wind blew. I broke furniture and burned it in the fireplace to stay warm as I contemplated this life I had built crumbling before my eyes.

I betrayed everyone that had ever cared about me and turned my back on everything that resembled hope. Then all of a sudden, when I was at the depths of despair, I remembered Jesus. I had heard others speak of Jesus like my mom, grandmother, and preachers that visited them. This Jesus that brought hope to the hopeless, life to the dead, and light to those trapped in the dark prison cell of self.

In March of 1988, I cried out to Jesus. He reached down into the depths of hopelessness and rescued me. I committed to Him that if He saved me from myself, I would live for Him from that day forward with everything that was within me. Since that time, God has done a miraculous thing in me. He has allowed me to fulfill that commitment I made to Him in so many different ways.

New Life in Christ

On April 22, 1989, I married the love of my life, Sheila Thomas. I have been serving the Lord alongside her for the past 30 years.

Since that glorious day in March of 1988, I have had the privilege of serving as a Recreation Director/Youth Pastor at the Brevard Church of God. Having been previously married, I was never eligible to be ordained under the denomination of the Church of God. I also served as the manager /bass singer for the Gospel Quartet (Pure Heart) from 1991 to the present.

I came on staff at Teen Challenge of the Mid South in July of 2002 in Chattanooga as a counselor /teacher. In 2014, I was asked to serve as the Director of the Men’s Program and am still serving there. I am the Lead Pastor of The Portal Church Fellowship (a Non-Denominational Pentecostal Church) since 2008.

Ordination and Further Ministry Training at CLI

I was also recommended and accepted for ordination by some minister friends (Pastors/leaders) that recognized my life and ministries as fruitful kingdom work in November of 2011. This ordination was under the covering and banner of my non-denominational church – again because of my previous marriage.

The ministry life goal for me is still incomplete, so I felt I needed continued ministry training. I already have over 20 years of Christian study while on staff at Teen Challenge. My ministry goal in continued ministry training with Christian Leaders Institute is to have a student/servant heart. Then, I will be able to serve those that God places in my life to the best of my ability.

Learn more about ordination at Christian Leaders Alliance.