What’s your story? If God can do it for me, he can do it for anybody!

Igrew up in church. My mom kept us in church growing up, but just like many teenagers, I kind of strayed away, going off to college to do my own thing. I struggled with finances and grades in college and developed depression and mental illness problems. I was in jail a few times and was put in hospitals a few times. 

Fast forward a little and I had to drop out of school. The illness pretty much hampered my life, putting me in debt because of spending sprees and medical bills. Through it all, I’m aware that God kept his hand on me, protected me so that I didn’t hurt myself or anyone else. 

I met my wife, Crystal, about 21 years ago. She was a nursing student and I thank God she was there when I went into the hospital again. She was my confidante; she kept me going. I’m grateful she knew how to guide me as far as medicine and doctors. With her encouragement, I got back to school and finished. God used her to motivate me to get into a career. I haven’t had any of the old issues in 21 years. 

Crystal and I have been married nearly 19 years. Though I grew up in church, Crystal wasn’t really a church-going person, but God had His hands on us and kept us together. As we started our family, had our first child, and then lost our second child, a little girl, we grew closer together. We also began to be closer to God and started to look for a church. 

I work in telecommunications but also have a side business screening logos on shirts and other items. I was driving to work one day, and I looked over to the left and saw this huge white church with a blue roof, Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church.

I was thinking of connecting with them to do business with them. Early one morning, I went to the church when no one was there. I stuck a business card under the door, hoping I didn’t set off an alarm or anything. 

"This ministry has been a blessing in my life. We get a chance to disciple the boys, teach them about God, teach them about Bible lessons, but also lead them on field trips such as bowling or fishing. "

A couple of years later I met up with a customer that I was doing some side business with. He was a member of that church and he said, “Hey, I need you to do some shirts for our church.” I just accepted the order and went about my day.

Well, that contact led to more business with the church, and I later met Pastor Caleb [Turner]. He walked up to me, saying, “Hey, how you doing? I appreciate you for doing business with us, and are you saved? Have you accepted Jesus Christ in your life?” I said, “Yeah, I am saved.” Because at that point I turned away from sin, though I wasn’t really engaged in a church. I knew Jesus was the Lord of my life. He said, “Okay, well we would love to have you come visit us at church.”

I didn’t think anything of it. My wife and I, we were like, “OK, well let’s go take a visit.” A few months later we visited the church, and from that first visit, we just fell in love with it. We felt comfortable, everyone welcomed us, everyone greeted us. We joined Mesquite Friendship in 2018 with a desire to really give God our all. 

With Pastor Caleb’s encouragement, I started helping out with the youth ministry. From there God pressed on my heart to start a young men’s mentoring group, we now call Men in Training. It’s based on the fact that some of the younger boys didn’t have much interaction with men in the church. Some of them didn’t have a father in their homes. We tried to launch in 2020, but COVID prevented us. So we pushed it back to the 2021-2022 school year. We’re currently in our second year.  

This ministry has been a blessing in my life. We get a chance to disciple the boys, teach them about God, teach them about Bible lessons, but also lead them on field trips such as bowling or fishing. We have fun and disciple the boys, hoping to form long-lasting relationships. We only meet once a month. Over the past year-and-a-half, I believe we’ve made an impact. 

[Eventually] Pastor Caleb talked to me about being a trustee for the church, helping with administrative responsibilities. So now I serve in that capacity as well. 

God has brought me a long way. In my life, He moved me up from being a door greeter to having more responsibility and a good living. In my personal life, He’s cleared my debt and protected my health. In my family, He’s given me two sons and a loving wife. 

I didn’t deserve it, but in His perfect timing everything just kept lining up. It’s just been truly a blessing ever since I connected with God and started to study the Bible under Pastor Caleb and under his father, Dr. Terry [Turner]. We’ve seen a sustained connection with God, a relationship. Now we can really say that we are helping build the kingdom. We’re participating and we’re investing our lives in God’s kingdom.

So, what’s my story? If God can do it for me, he can do it for anybody else. Give it a try and you’ll see great things happen in your life. 

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as told to Gary Ledbetter
Antonio Oliver
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