Jared Sawyer Jr. of Decatur has been a licensed Baptist minister for nearly a decade. And he’s only 15.
When he was 5 years old, the son of Sabrina and Jared Sawyer Sr., had a dream.
“God was basically speaking to me and he told me he wanted me to be a minister,” Sawyer said. “I knew it was a calling. It was nothing but God.
“I immediately came down to my mother the next morning and I said, ‘Mom, God called me to be a minister,’” he said. “It wasn’t so much that she didn’t believe me, but it’s just that she didn’t take that as serious.”
But Sawyer did not let that stop him.
“I knew from going to church previously that when God calls you to do something, he may not give you all of the outline and all of the details on how to do it, but you should step out on faith and you should simply act based on what your faith is telling you to do,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer began attending various churches, taking notes from the sermons and studying the Bible.
Approximately six months after the dream, he told his pastor of the call on his life.
“I ended up preaching,” Sawyer said. “My first sermon that I ever preached was ‘The Seven Last Words of Christ.’ I can’t remember to this day what ‘The Seven Last Words of Christ’ was about but I do remember the impact that I had on the people’s lives.”
After the sermon, interest in him spread by word of mouth and he began getting requests to speak at various churches.
At age 6 and a half, after completing an examination process by his pastor, Sawyer was licensed to preach in the Baptist church.
“That opened up more doors,” he said.
When YouTube videos of him preaching at ages 9 and 10 went viral, he had even more opportunities to preach. Now Sawyer is the youth minister at Center Hill Baptist Church in Atlanta and the president of Jared Sawyer Jr. Ministries.
Through his ministry, which he began at age 11, Sawyer holds events such as his “I’m Empowered By God” Youth Extravaganza earlier this year that included workshops, games, activities, Christian hip-hop and rap concerts.
It was not “one of those conferences that was so much focused just on Christian upbuilding. It focused on leadership. It focused on growing leaders,” he said.
He also maintains a website, Facebook page, Twitter account and personal YouTube channel.
Through what he calls “inspirational social media,” Sawyer tweets and posts “simple and blatant inspirations.”
Sawyer recently released a book, I Belong to God: Staying on the Christian Path to Success.
“It recognizes the fact that life is hard,” Sawyer said. “Regardless of who you are, what you may do or where you may come from at some point in your life, you’ve got to go through something. Sometimes the different things that we go through have the tendency to make us feel as if they have power over us. It can feel overwhelming.”
His book “preaches and teaches that fact that we can make it in life and it teaches how you can stay on the Christian path to success,” he said.
Sawyer said his motivation for ministry is influence on youth.
“That is probably my biggest motivation,” he said. “As I preach and as I go around and talk to people and as I receive emails from people and responses to tweets, …what I am doing is having an impact on people’s lives.”
When Sawyer, who recently received the Trail Blazer Leadership Award from Beulah Heights University, is not ministering he likes martial arts, spending time with family and friends and going to the movies. At school, he is a member of the Future Business Leaders of America and the Spanish club.
“On Sunday mornings, I always make sure I’m at the church,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer’s future plans include attending Morehouse College and majoring in theology. He also wants to become a full-time pastor, a Christian academy headmaster, and a radio or television talk show host.
“I’m sure as time goes by I’m going to be open to other opportunities that are going to enable me to expand my ministry and influence people,” Sawyer said.
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