Youth pastor helps connect students, ministry opportunities

Sunday, May 20, 2012
Danny Wilson is the youth pastor at Bethel Assembly of God in Cape Girardeau. (ADAM VOGLER)

Bethel Assembly of God youth minister Danny Wilson has a background in computer-aided design. But after eight years of designing cable television systems, the Sikeston, Mo., native felt a call to ministry. Today Wilson connects students with various ministry opportunities at the church and through mission trips.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: My name is Danny Wilson, I have been on staff at Bethel Assembly of God for almost 10 years as the youth pastor. I grew up in Sikeston and moved to Cape Girardeau in 1991 to attend Southeast Missouri State University. I received a bachelor of science degree in computer-aided design and worked for a company in Sikeston for about eight years designing cable television systems. I have been married for 17 years to my beautiful wife, Tanya Wilson, and we both love living in Cape Girardeau.

Q: How long have you been a member of your faith?

A: I was raised in a Christian home and made the decision to follow Christ at an early age. I had a few years where I chose to walk away from the faith, but life without God at the center leaves you empty. So I turned back to my faith and have been pursing my relationship with the Lord ever since.

Q: What led you to pursue a career in youth ministry?

A: I was at the church praying on a Thursday and I felt in my heart that the Lord was telling me to prepare myself to take over as the youth pastor at Bethel. At the time, our senior pastor's wife was in charge of the youth ministry. I talked it over with my wife that night and we decided that we would be quiet and just see what the Lord was going to work out. The following Sunday, our pastor's wife walked up to me and said that she had been praying for me that week and that God had told her that he was preparing me to take over the youth ministry and it was time for her to step away. Her willingness to step aside and to tell me what she felt like the Lord had told her gave me the extra boost of faith that I needed to walk away from a steady income into a job that I had never even considered before. I love my job and I will always be grateful that God choose me and to the pastor's wife for hearing and responding to the voice of the Lord.

Q: How long have you been at Bethel Assembly of God?

A: I have attended this church and helped with the youth ministry as a volunteer since 1992. I took over as youth pastor in 2002.

Q: What's the greatest joy you've experience in your job?

A: The greatest joy for me is watching kids who have been making bad choices and heading down the wrong path turn around and begin to make good choices and watch them fall in love with God. I also love seeing kids do things that they are clearly gifted to do. Whether it is sports, acting, singing or the arts, it is always encouraging to watch kids excel.

Q: What's your favorite Bible verse and why?

A: It is hard to narrow it down to one verse, but I love the book of James. It is full of practical instruction on how to live a godly life. It gives advice on everything from watching what you say about other people to commands to take care of widows and orphans, to not showing favoritism.

Q: What do you see as one of the main purposes of the youth ministries department at the church?

A: I believe the main purpose of our youth department is to teach young people about God and how to live a holy life that honors a holy God. Society teaches our young people so many false lessons and instills so many wrong motives, dreams and priorities. I feel my job is to teach them the word of God and to show them what God wants and expects for their lives.

Q: How do you keep the youth engaged in ministry activities?

A: We have students that actively participate in our services each week, singing, playing instruments, running the sound, video and lighting as well collecting the offering or acting out parts of the lesson. We also participate in a fine arts program that teaches students how to use their talents for ministry. There are tons of categories they can participate in from singing, playing instruments, art, poetry, photography, short sermons, drama, etc. We compete in district and national competitions every year and it exposes our students to what other students around the country are doing.

Q: What are some of the challenges youth face today, and how do you suggest they deal with them?

A: Drug and alcohol addictions are still rampant, but students today face so many other pressures as well. The Facebook generation is more open about their emotional struggles than ever before. Kids talk about things like dealing with depression and cutting openly on the Internet. Instead of turning to adults who are trained to help, they turn to one another and try to help each other carry those burdens. I have often seen the emotional damage that a young teenager can do to themselves trying to carry not only their own heartaches but all the burdens of their friends as well.

Q: What events does your church have coming up?

A: Our youth ministry is always very active in the summer. We go to church camp; we are going to the Appalachian Mountains on a missions trip; we are going to the national fine arts competition plus several day trips throughout the summer. Bethel is hosting a fireworks display with free food in Kiwanis park July 1. We also have a festival Oct. 31 with free food, candy, rides, games, hayrides and dramas, it is a great family environment. We also do a huge Christmas production at the Cape Junior High the weekend of Dec. 7 to 9 called "Humbug to Hallelujah."

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