The prodigal son who found new faith

By Izah Broadus

I grew up in a little town called Lakeview, Ark. with about 1,000 people. Town was like a family. Everybody looked out for each other. Growing up in that environment made me a caring person. I always wanted to help others.

My mother and father raised me in church. They kept my brothers and sisters and me away from drugs and gangs. We didn’t experience those things and weren’t allowed to do anything like that.

As I got older, I thought there was a better life. I spent some time in the streets when I was about 18 years old. Even in my time in the streets I was a caring person because it was what I learned growing up. I was always trying to help everybody else, but I never took the time to help myself. I was a lot like the prodigal son.

What really did it was 2006. I was a diabetic and didn’t even know it. They couldn’t get my sugar down. I went into a coma, and the doctor said I wouldn’t live. I was fighting for my life, and I did live. When I got out of the hospital I said, “God, why did you save me?”

I went back to running the streets. In September 2008, I was shot five times—twice in the chest, once in the face, once in the hand, and once in the leg. It was a life change. I woke up, and I was still alive. While I was recovering from all of this, I was praying, reading the Bible, and talking to God.

Then in January, the mother of my kids walked out on me and took the kids with her. It was one of the hardest things I went through. I wasn’t ready for it. I wanted to be a better man for my kids and show them this was not who I was raised to be. I needed to change my life.  

A New Faith

I didn’t have to go to rehab or a program to get my life back together, I just got on my knees and started praying. One day my prayers brought me to Jesus Christ. I had experienced the pain and suffering that people going through in the world, and I knew I wanted to help them.

From that point on I struggled because I knew that God was calling me. I wrestled with Him for three years, but I knew what He was doing. That’s when I got back in the church. I decided I would go back home to the church I grew up in.

One Sunday as I listened to the preacher, I thought about ministry and how I had been running this whole time. I stood up in the middle of the message. The pastor came out of the pulpit and walked down to me. I knew he was preaching and talking directly to me. I told him, “I can’t run no more. God is calling me.”

The pastor looked at me and said that my father, on his death bed, told him that he wasn’t going to hear his son preach his first sermon. That broke me. I cried right there in church.

Even with my past, the church accepted me. But the longer I stayed there the more I felt that we weren’t reaching the lost people in the streets. The lost people hadn’t heard the story of Jesus. Or if they had heard about Him, they didn’t know what He really means. These people needed to be reached, and I wanted to meet people and make a difference on the area.

{ The lost people hadn’t heard the story of Jesus. Or if they had heard about Him, they didn’t know what He really means. These people needed to be reached. }

That’s what I want to teach people: there is a Savior for all people! It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, but I left my home church. I felt that was what God wanted me to do.

At about the time I left, I joined an organization in West Helena, Ark., that was supposed to be helping youth who were living on the streets. The organization owned a building in West Helena that was connected to a church, and they asked if I wanted the church to start a ministry.

I prayed about it and said yes. The church started on March 15, 2015, and they installed me as the pastor of the church. We had our first service on Easter Sunday that April, which gave me time to talk to people and make flyers. My family knew about it and people in the community found out. Sixty people came that morning, and eight people joined. We named the church New Faith.izah-preaching

At first I just focused on preaching but then I started doing more. Now I talk, go into praise and worship, talk, turn it over to the musicians, then preach the Word. I’m up and doing something the whole service. I get up in the choir sometimes, too.

The Lord Provides

When the church was about two months old, I found out the organization that owned our building was not who they were telling people they were. I thought, I didn’t come to this to do wrong in the church. When I reported them, they told me we had to move out of the church. By that time, we had about 30 members at New Faith. 

I said to God, “There’s no way you brought me back to West Helena to start a church for this to happen.” I started looking for a place to worship and found a church in the same neighborhood—St. Mary’s Church. They were only worshiping on the second and fourth Sundays, so they approached me and offered that we could start meeting there on the first and third Sundays. At the same time, I felt that we needed to be in our own facility.

So I’m walking through the sanctuary with a member of Harmony Baptist, who was selling St. Mary’s Church, and talking about what was going on with New Faith. Then he tells me they wanted to sell their building. Their asking price was $125,000, but I made them an offer for $20,000.

I was surprised when he said, “I’ll take it.” I asked, “What makes you want to sell it to me for $20,000?” He said, “We’ve had people approach us and make offers, but they wanted to turn it into a game room or a studio. This church has history, and we wanted to keep it as a church.”

So after hearing our story, they simply said they wanted to help us out and sold it to us for $20,000!

{ God is showing us, “Don’t worry about this. I got y’all,” just like Jeremiah 29:11. }

As it turns out, this building needed so much work—new copper wire, an air conditioning unit, a new gas pipe. I realized we couldn’t hold a service there until we got some things fixed, so I made a smaller offer.

New Faith met in this “new” building the first Sunday of July 2015. We didn’t have anything but lights, air conditioning, the sanctuary, and a restroom, but we got in there and started service. Some windows were broken, and we still have broken windows.

Then I started hearing things about Arkansas Baptists. I went to Anthony Banks, and he sat down and explained to me how things worked with Dixie Jackson missions. And I’m thinking, “I need to talk to them. That’s something I’d love to be a part of.”

I was able to meet with ABSC church planting strategist Bro. Willie Jacobs (and when I met him it was like God poured out the blessings of heaven!) to talk about Dixie Jackson funds. He also introduced me to the Church Planting Team and the pastor of First Baptist Hot Springs, John McCallum.

block-party-1
First Baptist Hot Springs volunteering at a block party hosted by New Faith.

First Baptist Hot Springs became our partnering church. They came down to West Helena and did some work on the church. We probably wouldn’t be in our church building if it wasn’t for them, but we don’t dwell on that. We don’t have big funds coming in, and sometimes they step in and pay the utilities for the month. God is showing us, “Don’t worry about this. I got y’all,” just like Jeremiah 29:11. I made this our church’s Scripture!block-party-3

One hundred and forty-seven people are on the church roster right now with at least 50 to 80 people in service on Sundays.

At New Faith we teach come to Jesus right where you are in life and let Jesus change your life around. I know my God brought me out of my situation, and I started serving God right there and my life changed. I have truly watched people come in our doors that were homeless, drug addicts, or alcoholics, and we loved them and introduced them to Jesus right there.

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