My name is Terry Gatewood, and here is my journey to ministry study at Christian Leaders Institute (Learn more about online Bible classes, Click Here). Currently, I hail from Columbia, South Carolina, USA. I was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. At the age of 12, I moved to Columbus, Ohio, due to my father’s death in 1977. My mother passed the following year, and family in Columbus, Ohio, took in my brother and me. I lived in Ohio until 2014.
At age 48, I retired from law enforcement and moved to Columbia. There I took on a job as a Fire Protection and Communications Maintenance Technician with Richland County School District Two. Law enforcement was a career I thought I would be in until I physically couldn’t work the job, but the Lord had other plans for my life.
My Ministry Study Journey
Currently, I hold an Associate’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry from Ohio Christian University and worked toward my Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies until my financial aid ran out. Due to economic reasons (cops don’t make as much as many think they do), I could not afford to pay out of pocket for college. Sadly, I needed to withdraw about halfway through my program. I love learning and the Lord, so this was a blow to me.
However, last year on my journey to ministry study, I was looking at some local small colleges to enroll in. I wasn’t finding anything that would get me where I needed to be in Biblical Studies. When I was ready to give up, I came across Christian Leaders Institute, which advertised a free education. Of course, still having that cop mentality of suspicion, I almost brushed it off and kept on scrolling, but something (the Holy Spirit, I believe) told me to go back and have a look. I did and liked what I saw but was still a little leery. After some prayer and a “go for it” attitude, I enrolled and began taking classes. What I have learned to this point is on a level with my university education in workload and learning.
My Upbringing and Struggles
Growing up in Texas, my brother and I attended church, but my parents did not. They were both alcoholics but functioning alcoholics who took care of us well. But neither darkened the doorway of a church. They fought from time to time, but there was no physical violence. With all of his flaws, my dad was a good man with compassion and a strong sense of right and wrong. But, he did have a side that was not so good, mainly when others provoked him.
We lived in a rough neighborhood on the east side of Fort Worth in the Polytechnic Heights area. This rough and tumble area molded me into what I became—a fighter and a drinker. I fought all the time at school and home with other kids. When adulthood arrived, so did the beer, whiskey, and womanizing. Sadly, I lived this way for about 25 years of my adult life.
God Called Me
While on patrol one day, I was dispatched to a residence regarding a possible break-in to a garage. It is where I met the woman who would become my wife. She is my rock and best friend. I didn’t know the Lord then. However, since the age of 15 or 16, I knew the Lord was after my heart. I had dreams from time to time of being a pastor, but I always brushed them off. Why would God want someone like me to do His work?
I know now that God works in mysterious ways and puts people in your life for a specific reason. However, it wasn’t my wife, Nicole. But instead, it was her mother, Dawn. When I met Dawn that day, I instantly knew there was something different about her. I had only seen this difference one other time with Pastor Doc Wiggins, one of my instructors in the police academy. Doc was a true man of God, and he had “that thing” about him that made you want to be around him. I liked what they both had, and I wanted it too. However, I didn’t put two and two together until three years later. That’s when Dawn passed away from complications of open-heart surgery. Three weeks after her passing, I finally put the two and two together and accepted Christ on my knees in my dining room.
Answering God’s Call
My wife noticed an almost instantaneous change in me, and so did many other people I was around daily. I now understood God’s calling on my life (remember the dreams?). So, I began to pursue a path to ministry. I am not sure where God wants me, nor in what capacity. However, I remember Pastor Richard Ellis of Reunion Church, Dallas, Texas. He said that serving God isn’t always about being up at a podium preaching the Word. The person cleaning the bathrooms in the church is as important in the eyes of God as the preacher. As soon as we understand everyone in whatever capacity serves the Lord, we function better as a church.
As I continue this journey and mystery, pray that I stay the course set before me. Thank you.