Ministry School for Free at Christian Leaders Institute
My name is James Smith, and I’m taking ministry school for free online at CLI. I live in Sweetwater, Texas, in the USA. We are known for windmill farms and rattlesnakes. I have a wonderful wife and three beautiful daughters who never cease to amaze me.
I received my calling to the ministry at a young age. We went to church after my parents lost their third child, my baby sister. We got involved in the church. At the age of ten, I attended my first Kid’s Camp in Buffalo Gap, Texas. I remember that year because it was when I gave my heart to the Lord. It changed my life.
The call to ministry came one summer at camp, where I was filled with a fire to reach those in a dark world. Then, they could feel the light I was experiencing. As a teenager, I went to church, but I was running from the call of God. I wanted to taste the world. The things around me enticed me, and like the prodigal, I wanted to try it out. Throughout High School, I was hot and cold about going to church and not serving God wholeheartedly. I straddled the fence.
I went to college fully intending to become a nurse and make money. However, I got into the party scene and lost myself to drugs and alcohol. Although I attended church, my heart was not in it. I finally hit bottom. Then, God got ahold of me. He showed me that the path I was on would lead me to death. During a revival service one night, I sat in the back row where I could slip out. God cornered me, and I could not get out of my seat. I sat there, crying for almost three hours, rededicating myself to Him. God renewed the fire in my heart that I dimmed.
My first wife and I married. Then, I decided to attend Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, TX. I graduated from CFNI in 1998. We began working at a church as the children’s ministers. After about two years of working in the church and six years of a tumultuous marriage relationship, our marriage ended in divorce. After my divorce, I distanced myself from God and anything to do with Him. I felt hurt and abandoned. Unsure if I was worthy of His forgiveness and the call, I hid.
I returned to becoming a nurse so that I could offer something to people. Perhaps I would do medical missions and work in the background. I met my current wife while working at a hospital in the Dallas area, and we became good friends. She pushed me back toward God by taking me to church even when I resisted. I yearned for an opportunity to reach out, and the church we allowed us to work with the kids.
I continued to go to school to get into nursing school. However, it never seemed to work out. Finally, to position myself to become a nurse, I attended Paramedic school. I graduated from Paramedic school in March of 2008. In February, my mother contacted me to let me know that the fire department in our home town was testing for positions. After talking with my wife, who wanted to move closer to my family, I decided to take the test.
The Sweetwater Fire Department hired me on May 20, 2008. It began my career and helped me find my place. After about seven years, I was sent to the police academy and got appointed as the Fire Marshal for the city. I also was appointed as the Chaplain for the fire and police department.
My Return to Ministry and Ministry School for Free at CLI
Upon moving to Sweetwater, I was hesitant to get into ministry due to my past. Divorce never looks suitable for a ministry. So, I felt I was disqualified. My pastor in the church I attend was my pastor when I was a child. He watched me grow through the ups and downs. One day, he asked me if I would be willing to take over the youth ministry at the church. Now, I have been the youth pastor for almost 12 years. I also work as an associate and fill in for the pastors when they are away.
I am thankful that God took me, a broken and depressed Christian, and raised me up to work for Him. He continues to use me over and over again. Recently, He opened the door for me to study at the Christian Leaders Institute. Ministry School for free is perfect for me in my situation. Thank you, CLI!
I love God with all of my heart, and I will do the work He puts in front of me wherever that may take me.
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