Church leader and adjunct history professor Michael Patterson reflects back on his early years in college. It was there that God reached out and changed the trajectory of Michael’s life. See from these snapshots of disciple making how God can redirect lives through brothers in Christ.
Usually in life, when we reach the point of desperation and humility, God starts moving.
I still remember it like it was yesterday. I had gone to my keyboard player’s apartment and since he was busy at the time, he told me to wait in his living room. His roommate Rodney was sitting at the kitchen table with another young man and they were talking about the Bible. I was intrigued. They were discussing heaven, commitment, and other interesting topics.
Since I was a Christian–or so I thought–I joined in and enjoyed the discussion. I stopped by the apartment the next week and that’s when my new acquaintance, Rodney, asked if I wanted to study the Bible.
I had actually been praying to God to find a group of people who were serious about Him and that would help me grow closer to Him. So when Rodney asked me to study the Bible, I thought maybe God was answering my prayers.
As we looked into the Scriptures and had deep insightful life talks, I was hooked.
We kept meeting and eventually he invited me to visit a church where he was supposed to be a member. What moved my heart was the brothers’ knowledge and use of the Scriptures. I had never met guys my age who were serious about the Word.
Eventually, Rodney introduced me to a guy named Derrick Claye. We continued to study the Bible and one day they asked if I wanted to become a Christian. I said sure, and they took me to their minister’s home.
It was probably about midnight when we rang Sam Powell’s doorbell. With a puzzled look, he asked who I was and why I was thinking about becoming a Christian. Little did I know that my friend, Rodney, was not a committed Christian and so Sam was a little concerned to say the least. After he asked me a series of questions, especially about purity, he concluded I needed more time.
I continued to go to the worship services and study the Scriptures. Honestly, I can’t remember any soul stirring sermons from the pulpit. But I do recall those talks where Sam and I sat face to face and he connected with my soul.
In my opinion, if you really want to have an impact into a man’s life you have to look into his eyes and touch his soul.
For the first time as a young adult, I was finding answers that I had been seeking. I was also developing the strength and conviction to take a stand against sin. After a few sessions I was hooked, and on April 7th, 1985 I resolved at my baptism that I would follow Jesus for the remainder of my life. I can honestly say for over 25 years I’ve stayed true to my initial commitment.
I am grateful, especially to Sam Powell, for taking the time to minister to my sinful and sick soul. Little did I know that my friendship with brother Powell would evolve through various stages over the next 20 years.
Life as a young disciple was fresh, exciting and adventurous; I was starting to look at the world from a renewed perspective.
Fortunately, I quickly became close friends with brothers form Florida A&M University, one of the most prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America. I hung so much with the FAMU brothers that many people thought I was studying there. I was simply looking for the most spiritual peers I could find.
Although I hadn’t yet read the scripture 1 Corinthians 15:34, the Spirit and common sense made it clear that, “Bad company corrupts good character.” And the last thing I wanted to do as a young disciple was to return to a hypocritical lifestyle.
That is why I chose to have close relationships in the church.
Although I learned many incredible lessons from the brothers, one man in particular had a profound impact in my life. Anthony Weeks was a great inspiration and role model. I had never met a man my age that had his level of zeal, intensity, and commitment. He was passionate for the lost and he constantly shared his faith and studied the Bible with people.
He and I quickly became friends. It may have also had something to do with my powder blue Chevette, because he didn’t have a car. In all seriousness, he was my first mentor. After I finished class or work, I would pick him up and we would go and study the Bible with people.
As a young Christian I assumed that’s what all Christians did. He taught me to work hard, have fun and to be bold for the Gospel. Man, those were incredible days.
A year later, God put another brother in my life, Frank Davis, who had moved from Baltimore to serve as our Campus Minister. Although I had completed my undergraduate degree in history, I was having so much fun in the ministry that I decided to enroll in grad school and remain a part of the campus group.
Truth be told, when I first met Frank I couldn’t understand him. He had a serious northeastern accent and he stuttered. Yet what he lacked in verbal communication he compensated through his passion.
Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from him and continue to see lived out in his life is the one of personal conviction.
Frank taught us to read and study our Bibles in order to figure out what we believed and why we believed it. Little did I know at the time this would be an invaluable lesson that I would revisit many times in my walk with God.
(Excerpted from Michael Patterson’s Running with Lions: Mentoring Leaders for the Millennial Generation. Used with Permission.)