LEWISTOWN - When 18-year-old Ben Williams moved to the United States to attend college, he never expected to find himself back in ministry.
Williams, the new youth pastor at Evangel Baptist Church, moved with his family to Scotland when he was 8 years old. His parents, both missionaries, established three churches there. Despite being raised in ministry, Williams said he had little interest in following his parents' footsteps.
"Ministry was always the thing I didn't want to do," he said.
Sentinel photo by JULIANNE CAHILL
Ben Williams is the new youth pastor at Evangel Baptist Church in Lewistown.
Like many young adults, Williams said, he spent his high school years making poor decisions and running away from God. At 18, he traveled back to the U.S. to attend Liberty University in Virginia for electrical engineering. It was there that he finally found himself drawing nearer to his roots in the church.
"I always had a feeling (electrical engineering) wasn't right," he said.
His calling became clearer after a guest preacher visited the school. Although he couldn't recall exactly what the preacher said, Williams called the visit a turning point in his life. He was convinced to switch his educational focus to youth ministries.
"God really had to bring me to the point where I wanted to do it," he said.
In his new role at Evangel Baptist, Williams oversees Sunday School classes, youth group and the youth leadership team. His hope is that he can make a positive impact on the teens during an influencial time in their lives.
"Teens make a lot of big decisions," Williams explained, adding that they may not realize the impact of the choices they make on the rest of their lives.
He said his goal is for each of the youth to graduate from high school and youth group and go on to college grounded in their faith and knowing who they are in Jesus. Sharing God's word with the youth is a two-part responsibility, he said. Sunday morning classes are a time for teaching the Bible, but Sunday evening youth group allows more flexibility.
Youth group is held from 6 to 8 p.m. every Sunday night at the church. Williams said he allows the teens to "just hang out" for about an hour of that time. The relaxed atmosphere makes it easier to connect with youth and casually share his own experiences as a teenager with them. Connecting on that level and taking interest in what they're going through helps Williams build relationships with the teens he works with, he said.
Williams is planning a community-wide Super Bowl party to kick off his first year at Evangel Baptist Church. Every teen in the area is invited to attend the event beginning at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 3 in the Family Life Center behind the church at 375 W. Fifth St., Lewistown. Williams said he ordered 700 wings and 40 pizzas in anticipation of the crowd expected. For more information, contact the church at 242-2769.