My desire to preach the Gospel began when I was a little girl. I could more correctly call it this incessant, nagging need that I can’t escape, no matter how hard I try. And, I’ve tried. I’ve circled tirelessly around the questions of, “Am I really called to do this?” or, “Am I really cut out for this?” Each hero on this list has served in due season to clear the clutter of doubt and confirm what I am here to do: preach the Gospel. This is by no means a complete list, and this short blog could never do justice to these heroes, but it is my joy today to honor them!
The very first time I heard about Jesus was as a six year-old under the ministry of Rodney Duron. Because of him, an incredible foundation was established in my heart. The life and presence of God were so powerful in his services. His messages were always accompanied by demonstrations of the Spirit’s power. I was seven years old when he water baptized me. It was then that I knew I would preach one day. Even then my love for Jesus was consuming, and passion for the Body of Christ had begun.
Denny Duron, Sr.
Pastor Denny Duron. In our eyes, no one touches him as a communicator of the Gospel. Though, I’ll have to admit, we are a bit partial! His impact in our community is iconic. His focus and passion for Jesus has been consistently full throttle his entire life. It seems he has never even taken the time to humor doubt about his identity or calling. His example always realigns my heart. Nowadays, he is not only my Father-In-Law, but also my mentor and preaching coach.
Dino and DeLynn Rizzo
After college, I ended up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. At the time, I was running from God at full speed. At Healing Place Church, God radically changed my life. Soon after, the Rizzos hired me. My very first time to hold a mic was when he gave me the opportunity to take up the offering. Despite this pitiful first go at public speaking, Dino was the first to tell me I had a gift. This was significant for me, as until this point I had felt called, but not gifted. God knew exactly what I needed to hear to break through to that next level of confidence as a speaker. Dino and DeLynn are both incredibly gifted communicators, and my favorite leaders. They are very special people in my life. Who I am, the way I do ministry, and the way I treat people has been forever imprinted by their example.
Joe and Lori Champion
This aptly named couple have been so significant in my journey. Phenomenal communicators and leaders, I have never seen a couple operate together as a singular force for the Kingdom as they do. My first sermon was preached under their leadership, and they entrusted more responsibility to me than anyone ever had. God actually brought the Champions into my life during a painful transitional time. They bravely stood with me, believed in me and for me, and if it weren’t for them, I certainly would not be where I am today.
I will never forget the first time I heard Christine Caine preach. I even remember what she preached on: Passion. When she preaches, a fire in me is stirred and I want to take the world by the throat. When it comes to preaching the Gospel, she may just be my greatest inspiration. Not only is she an evangelist, but she is helping to end modern-day slavery through the A21 Campaign, and is equipping female leaders all over the world through Propel. Christine Caine, if the Lord tarries, will certainly make the history books of our generation, and she shines bright as one of my biggest heroes.
Next in my trail of heroes is Lisa Bevere. Lisa preaches with such a beautiful balance of grace and power. Off the stage, she is so kind and personable, that I instantly felt a connection with her. She overcame the hurdle of sickness at a young age, is an incredible wife and mother, and is just as solid and genuine as they come. One of the best writers on the globe, she not only inspires me as a communicator, but as a writer.
Last but not least, is my sister-in-law, DawnChere Wilkerson. It inspires and blesses me to no end to see how God has raised her to such a rare level of influence. Just like her Dad and PawPaw, she is a profound orator of the Gospel. There is just something about seeing God use young women in such a powerful way. Her example definitely inspires me. Best of all, it was one of her messages that served as the finishing touch on the process of establishing an unwavering certainty of who I am and what I am here to do: preach.