In a tribute to the late Elder Bev Miles I wrote: “I am blessed to have an awesome Father who is my rock but God loves me so much he has given me some strong male figures who have shaped me along the way.  One of those men is Elder Bev Miles.

Another man God placed in my life around that same time is Pastor Fredrick Russell.

As a recent graduate from college, new to the work force, a person (male or female) grapples with identity, integrity, and the type of Adult they want to be.  You’re no longer in School, there’s no graduation you’re working toward, you’re hopefully building a career but those age old questions rear their head again: Is God Real? Is He my God or my Parents?  Is he interested in Me?  These were the questions swirling in my 22 year-old mind as I entered Prayer Meeting that Wednesday evening in a small church on Fulton & Lombard on the invitation of a friend who could see I was in the valley.  I had been unsuccessful in my search for work in the Technology Field and was currently working at a Taxi Dispatch center in Linthicum, MD. It was August of 2002 and I had gone for an interview earlier that day with a company called Enterprise Advisory Services for their Level 2 Desktop Support position.  I entered the sanctuary and the lights were dimmed which was surprising and the people, lead by the Pastor, were in a Circle holding hands praying.  I reluctantly joined them and one-by-one a person would share their prayer request or praise report after which everyone would pray out loud petitioning or thanking God on that persons behalf.  I felt the need to share and eventually told them of my search for a job and that I had gone on an interview earlier that day, the response drove me to tears… There had to be 30 to 40 people in that circle only one of which I knew prior and somehow I could hear each prayer individually as they cried out to God calling my name.  The next day I was offered the job and when I reported for work a week or so later I realized that Enterprise Advisory Services was the Sub-Contractor providing technical support at NASA in Greenbelt, Maryland.  This wasn’t any Job, it was THE JOB and I will never forget the church that prayed for me to get it.

 

Pastor Russell recording a Video Blog

 

The experience shared is a window into the mind of Pastor Russell the architect of Worship at then Miracle Temple Church.  That format of worship would eventually impact the entire nation reintroducing the centrality of the Power of Prayer and Seeking God’s Face with every fiber of your being.  I answered those questions finally with a resounding YES, He’s my God and he is very much interested in me.  Under Pastor Russell’s leadership I became an active member of Miracle Temple Church, became an Ordained Deacon, met and married my wife, and later became an Ordained Elder.  As one of the Ministry Leaders I came to him once with an opportunity to receive donated computers from Johns Hopkins University for the Church Computer Lab.  He was tickled by the idea but his response literally blew me away, he said: “… Kirk that’s awesome I like where your going with that but I wonder, do you think God would give us brand new computers?  Are we settling for Good and the expense of what’s Great?  Do we have the faith to believe God for more?”  It is that kind of leadership Pastor Russell modeled before us every day and has had a major impact on my life both personally and professionally, much of the leadership practices I now employ in my current position I learned from those moments.  He had a practice of writing a letter to the child he was dedicating to the Lord and he gave strict instructions to the parents to give it to them on their 12th birthday.  It’s hard to believe that Karsyn will open that letter in less than 3 years…  He’s a major proponent of Technology.  Miracle Temple was one of the first local Adventist Church’s to stream their services weekly and have an in-house Broadcast Team and Webmaster.  As aspiring Media/Technology Professionals it was an awesome environment to be in almost like a Silicon Valley Startup Company!  Kanique was trained to do web design by Henry McEachnie and Chip Dizzard and served as the primary Webmaster for the church for years, she has her own Web Design company to this day.  A true Lover of Music our Church attracted and gave birth to countless artists and worship music that ushered people to the throne.  It is his personal touch that I am impressed with the most: He knew my name from the very first time we met and never forgot it and would ask about Suzanne, Andrew, Kim, Geoffery, Mom, and Dad… He didn’t just ask about family in general he asked for people by name.  The type of leader who would rush to the hospital to see someone, who would visit a family who just brought home a new baby, and would call you simply to pray with you cause the Lord impressed your name on his heart.  He was our Pastor but more than that he is our friend.

 

 

Pictures above are from our Wedding day in 2006… Pastor Alex Royce did the marriage counseling for Kanique and I, and our intention was to have both Pastor Royce and Pastor Russell officiate our Wedding along with Kanique’s Dad but due to a cancelled flight and some horrible weather Pastor Royce didn’t make it.  Pastor Russell stepped right in and we couldn’t be more grateful.  As the years have passed and he became Conference President we stayed in touch, he even invited Kanique’s singing group to Allegheny West to sing for events he was having.  We kept in touch through our years in South Africa and we were too excited to learn he would be just a few hours away when we moved to Huntsville.  He insists we stay at his home when we visit the Atlanta area and I can tell you those conversations with him are just as powerful and as deep at 38 as they were when I was 22.  He will soon be transitioning into a new phase of ministry so I write these words to honor the man and vessel God has used in my life to shape and mold me into who he has called me to be.  We look forward to see what God will do with him next.  Truly the world needs visionary leaders like Fredrick Russell to push the envelope, challenge the status quo, not settle for mediocrity, and keep ever mindful that fact that it’s all about people and the relationships we form.

 

Who has had a profound impact on your life?  Join the conversation, Leave a Comment below!

 

 

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