Getting the call

As part of our Annual Session celebration this year, The American Baptist Churches of New Jersey is putting together a book of pastor testimonies. These are to be based on one of several journey themes, and be limited to 200 words! As my contribution to this project, I wrote about how I got called to pastoral ministry. It came in at 199 words!

I first received my call to ministry when I was in seventh grade, and about as Christian as a mud puddle. I was at worship at my family’s Episcopal church, watching our priest prepare the Communion elements, when an unbidden thought formed in my head, “That’s what you are going to do.” I remember thinking back, “Are you kidding me? Then you have to believe that stuff!”

Several years later, when I was seventeen, I had a conversion experience at Lancaster Mennonite High School. Jesus claimed me, and I became a devoted Christian. My parents didn’t know what to make of my transformation and often made good-natured jokes about it. I didn’t blame them, it was quite a dramatic change. On Christmas, however, one joke did make be a bit upset. As my family watched the video of our annual football game, my father zoomed the camera on me and said, “There’s Wesley Allen, the ‘minister of defense.’” I was steamed at a the mocking comment. Before I could respond, however, an unbidden thought formed in my head for a second time in my life.

“See? I told you.”

The mysterious ways of God, are truly not my own.