I am the third of four children. My eldest sister is Hannah, then comes Mary, and after me is my brother Elijah. My dad was a pastor, an apologist, and a stand-up comedian. My mother grew up in a pastor’s home; my grandparents, Bill and Joan Sessoms, were in ministry together for over 50 years in the Church of the Nazarene. I have always felt called into ministry, but growing up under such influences as these made it tough differentiating between a desire to be like my dad and granddad and a call from my heavenly Father.
When I was six years old, my dad had a heart attack, followed by a stroke and two seizures. While we were on the way to the hospital, he flatlined for 22 minutes. He was revived but suffered severe brain damage and was later moved to a nursing home. He was just 44 at the time. Because of this traumatic experience, I have battled mental health problems throughout life. It can be horribly difficult, but God has used it as a means to further my sanctification and to help others. I’m certainly not alone, so it allows me the opportunity to touch upon subjects of loss which are scarcely dealt with properly.
Not long after that, my family began attending the Church of the Nazarene that my granddad pastored. One of my friends convinced me to go to a Nazarene Youth International (NYI) event; I branched out from there and began regularly attending district camps and other events. At one particular camp, I felt very strongly pressed to begin my ministry.
Many people have disregarded the things I’ve said or looked down on me because of my age, even now, but my pastor trusted me anyway and I was able to preach my first sermon when I was 14.
The North Carolina District and my local church wrapped their arms around me and became tools God used to make me who I am today.
I continued preaching at churches around North Carolina. The more I grew into my calling, the more my life transformed. My grades improved, my siblings became my best friends, and I even put more thought into how I presented myself. I cannot stress enough the betterment that occurs upon dying to one’s self and submitting to the will of our Almighty God!
I will be graduating in May from Southern Wesleyan University and will begin post-graduate work at Asbury Theological Seminary next fall. My dream is to get a doctorate and teach theology at a Christian university. Through its many twists and turns, life requires patience and perseverance; however, I have learned to trust God no matter what and seek to glorify Him with my life.
Isaac Radonavitch is a religion major at Southern Wesleyan University. He served five years on his local NYI council and has preached in the Church of the Nazarene for seven years.