Answering the Call to Preach: Student Spotlight on Jeremiah Austin

Jeremiah Austin

"Do not say, 'I am too young.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you." Jeremiah 1:7

When the Lord told the young Jeremiah he was to be a prophet to Jerusalem, he immediately thought of his inadequacies, but the Lord reassured him that this what He had set him apart to do - even before he was born.

Born in Dallas and raised in Desoto, Texas, Jeremiah Austin answered his own calling to preach at a very young age and with similar thoughts of his own limitations. Now, years later, while pursuing his undergraduate degree at DBU and serving as a student worker for President Dr. Adam C. Wright, Jeremiah is also currently a Staff-Minister at Community Missionary Baptist Church, fulfilling a call to ministry that stretches back to the age of 11. Since then, the Lord has continued to confirm that call through the influence of leaders he respects and through many opportunities to develop his preaching gift.

We asked Jeremiah about his calling to preach, the people who have helped shape that calling, and what advice he would give to others like him.

Who have been the major influences on your calling to preach at such a young age?

As far as I can remember, my mother has always taken me to church. She served in various areas of our church helping with teaching Student Bible study and Sunday School. She also served as choir president for a few years. In other words, there wasn't a time that the doors of the church were open, and I was not there. As a child, being in church this much had a great impact on me.

At the age of eleven I began having dreams of standing before a congregation and preaching. I kept ignoring these dreams because of my introverted nature. I remember vividly, our church hosting a revival and the guest speaker was Rev. Dr. John Adolph, Pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas. Dr. John Adolph is one of the most respected and revered preachers in the country. As he mounted the pulpit, I heard the Spirit say, "One day that will be you." That night sparked a fire within me that is still burning to this day. I asked my Pastor, Rev. Oscar D. Epps Sr. to meet with me so I could share the conviction I knew God had placed on my heart. On the fourth Sunday of June my Pastor graciously met with me and allotted me the time to acknowledge my calling. After sharing, his exact words to me were, "I am not surprised, I have been waiting for you to say something."

How has the Lord continued to confirm your calling?

A couple of years later after preaching a few messages in our youth church, Pastor Epps allowed me to preach my initial sermon on December 14, 2014, to the entire congregation. I was 13 years old, and that day has been etched in my heart ever since. I am a believer that God honors obedience. A couple of years after my initial sermon, I was invited to preach for Rev. Dr. John Adolph. It was the most surreal experience in the world to stand in the pulpit where so many preaching giants stood.

The most influential individual that has impacted my ministry is Pastor Epps. He has taught me the foundational principles of ministry. Pastor Epps has modeled what commitment and faithfulness unto God looks like. My ministry has also been impacted from afar by Pastor Ralph West, Pastor Freddie Haynes, and the late Rev. Dr. Karry D. Wesley.

In 2019, Pastor Epps brought me on staff at the Community Missionary Baptist Church as a Staff-Minister, serving in various capacities to support the mission of CMBC. God has used this church to cultivate me as a preacher, teacher, leader, and person. Through the direction of the Holy Spirit, I know God is leading me to Pastoral Ministry.

What words of counsel and encouragement would you give to other aspiring young preachers like yourself?

Don't rush the process. The passion of a young preacher can be poison. I am learning that the things that I thought I was ready for, would have destroyed me if God gave them to me too early. I am encouraged by the words of Paul in Galatians 4:4, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son..." These words remind me that I am working on God's time, not the other way around.

Written by Dr. Michael Whiting

Dr. Michael Whiting is the Director of Written Content in University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.