My Spiritual Lineage : Honoring Fathers
I came to Jesus at a young age while going to Open Door with my family, hearing the Gospel from Greg Kennedy, and praying with my father at home. I was baptized by Pastor Greg and my dad when I was around 10 years old, and shortly after I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. I want to honor Pastor Greg for his faithfulness in preaching the Gospel for decades, and leading countless people to Jesus. The Kennedy family and Open Door will always be my “roots” in Jesus.
The former worship pastor at Open Door, Joseph Sasser (RIP), began a church called Agape Christian Fellowship, and our family joined him when I was a teenager. Pastor Joseph began to give me guitar lessons when I was 12. I wrote my first worship song when I was 13. Joseph prophesied over me that I had “the heart of a psalmist”. He would teach me to play worship songs and always tell me that the music was to be “all about Jesus.” I was a stinky teenager who just wanted to be cool playing guitar, but those seeds he spoke sank down in my heart and still bear fruit today. I want to honor Joseph for carrying the Father’s heart with a simple focus on loving God and loving people. I realize he had more impact (directly and indirectly) in my life than I realized while he was still alive. He helped launched Camp Oasis, which had a profound impact on Shepard and I, and ultimately led to the launch of 6:22 (now called Burn Greenville).
God called Joseph to plant a new church, and his associate, Elliotte Pearson became the senior pastor. Shortly after Elliotte became pastor, in the summer of 2002, I encountered God at Camp Oasis. I came home with the vision for 6:22, wanting to host city-wide Friday night worship sessions at the church building. For some reason Elliotte said “yes” to me, and it began a season of mentoring and fathering from Elliotte that was invaluable. He helped me through the crucial, transitional, young adult years of life, while I was struggling with my call to ministry, my future, and my own immaturity. I want to honor Elliotte for being the one person in my life so far that I could ever call a spiritual father. Any grace I have in helping and discipling other young guys is only because of what Elliotte modeled to me. Now that I have a family of my own, as well as more church leadership experience, I realize how much Elliotte (and his wife Melissa!) sacrificed so that he could invest in me in that time. The church eventually changed names to Abundant life Church, and I became a leader and volunteer youth pastor.
On a Sunday morning in June 2006, Pastor Elliotte and Pastor Greg laid hands on me at an Abundant Life Church meeting and acknowledged God’s call to ministry on my life. What an honor to have the recognition of elders and spiritual fathers who would bless me in that way.
It was 2007 that I transitioned from working in the marketplace to vocational ministry, and I have been ever since. Abundant Life Church ended in early 2008, and many relationships in our lives transitioned that year. But I am so grateful for the spiritual lineage that I come from, with Greg, Joseph, Elliotte and many others who helped me get plugged into Jesus, rooted in His love and moved into full-time ministry to pursue God’s calling on my life.