My story is not extravagant. It is not one of these grew up in a horrible home, entertained a lot of drugs and alcohol, and the list of girls I have been with would fill many black books type of stories. I never had this amazing come to Jesus type of moment, where my life changed in an amazing way. It is in a way kind of counter cultural.
I grew up with parents who were divorced, my dad lived in Ridgley, WV and I lived with my mom and step-father in Zanesville, Ohio. I started school when I was five and went to the same school district my entire life. Like I said … a fairly normal life.
I also grew up in the church, and had some amazing people demonstrate what a relationship with Jesus truly looks like.
I accepted Jesus when I was fourteen years old. But my conversion was not anything dramatic. While I had sin in my life I was ashamed of, I had never done drugs, never had sex, never drank alcohol, never murdered anyone, did not use curse words … basically when I accepted Christ as my Lord and savior it was the culmination of growing up in a caring and loving church.
I love my story. I love the fact that my mom raised me around amazing people that were able to show me the love of Christ. Sometimes, when I hear these amazing stories of life conversion with Christ I am a little jealous. At times I wish I knew the amazing transformation that God provides when his Grace is poured out. But that only last for a few moments, because often I am reminded that I have always been around people who were living in that Grace. God’s Grace, when poured out to me, was not something radical. It was not something different. It was a way of life I was familiar with. In a sense, I have always lived in a hedge of God’s protection. And for that I am grateful!
My story continues after my baptism. I struggled with sin from time to time in my dating relationship, but it was my church family, especially my youth group, that kept me in check and helped to keep me strong. God taught me some amazing things through high school about his love and the importance of being closely connected to the body of Christ.
During high school it had been my dream to pursue a life as an Architect. My dream was to attend Cincinnati Christian University and dual enroll with the University of Cincinnati. I wanted to major in Architecture while living on CCU’s campus and taking some Bible/Ministry courses. I wanted to provide for my living by designing houses and buildings and use my talents in the pulpit to supply preach.
God had other plans for my life. In Physics class one day it dawned on me … I did not really care how the wind was going to affect a building. At that same time I was taking Pre-Calculus. The math always seemed to be over my head. While there are people who love math and especially love advanced levels of math, I am not one of them. It was at that time I decided I did not want to be an Architect. I was being called by God to enter full time Christian ministry.
At that decision, I went to the guidance office and dropped Calculus from my second semester course load, and began looking to attend other Christian colleges. I settled on Roanoke Bible College in Elizabeth City, NC.
It was at RBC, now Mid-Atlantic Christian University, that I studied God’s word and learned what the books said would make a good minister. It was with the Philippi Church in Creswell, NC I began to learn what real ministry was like as their youth minister.
During my years at RBC (MACU) I met and fell in love with my bride, Crystal Williams. Following graduation in 2007, I resigned my ministry with Philippi, accepted a new ministry with the Laurel Avenue Church in Chesapeake, VA, and then married my bride on July 28th.
For two years I served the church At Laurel Avenue as their youth minister. The church had been through several rough years because of situations brought on by previous Sr. ministers. Because of that and several other reasons those were a rough two years. During that time, my desire to preach began to grow stronger and stronger to the point I could no longer ignore it. When the time came for me to move on it was bitter sweet. The rough two years we had spent were coming to a close. The wounds of the church had been healed. The things we had pushed for and fought for were coming to fruition. What God had sent us there for had been accomplished, and in August 2009 we moved to Lebanon, Ohio.
In Lebanon, I began a new ministry serving the West Side Church of Christ. My responsibility here is to slowing transition with the Sr. minister to one day take over that role. Life has changed greatly in the short time we have been here. Soon after arriving back in Ohio Crystal and I found out we were pregnant with our first child. Not only were we getting used to living in a new place, ministering with a new church, but now we were preparing for our first child.
On May 7th, 2010 we welcomed into this world our little girl, Alivia Paige Dawson. She is beautiful. She is amazing. Watching her grow each and every day is truly a joy in my life. God is truly good. While we do not live like royalty, while we do not have every fancy gadget my heart desires, God has made us very rich. We have an awesome church family, a wonderful roof over our heads, and every thing we need.
My story is not extravagant. My story is not extreme. My story is probably very similar to yours. But I love my story, because it is about an ordinary man being used by and extraordinary God for his amazing purposes.