Sometimes your calling chooses you, says Jones
Henry Jones was destined for ministry, although he tried to run from it for the first part of his life.
He is currently the senior pastor at Prince Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in South Carolina, but the journey getting there was far from simple.
“It all started when I was very young, when my mother returned to the Salvation Army church and became very involved in church activities.”
His mother, Lydia Furbert, became a highly respected envoy in the organisation.
Growing up in Shelly Bay with lots of children in the neighbourhood, Mr Jones would “play church” every Sunday afternoon.
“I would gather all the kids and have my version of Sunday school in the neighbourhood. I would get boxes and build a pulpit to preach from. My mother took notice and decided to open a nursery in the area.”
This nursery school sparked the start of a Sunday school. Eventually it became the Salvation Army Shelley Bay Corps, which has since closed. The property is now occupied by the Shekinah Worship Centre.
Mr Jones’s early life was filled with ministry, as he assisted his mother in her outreach. He believes that early exposure impacted him greatly.
“I grew up in ministry with my mother. She and my stepfather, Oliver Furbert, were evangelists. It was their life’s work, and that influence was always around me.”
His parents led the Shelley Bay Corps for 20 years and served as managing directors of the Salvation Army Emergency Housing Complex for nine.
Despite his upbringing, ministry was not something that he wanted to pursue.
“I know God put that anointing on my life, but the problem was that pastoring was not something I wanted to pursue in my young life. I dropped out of school and started working at age 12 and that purpose lay dormant within me for years.”
Mr Jones left the church, moved to the United States and married his wife, Lorraine in 1979. He spent many years studying Islam, but Christianity never left him.
“When I left the church I vowed I would never join another one. But the foundation never left me, no matter how hard I tried to let it go.
“Even when I was not professing to be a Christian, I was always visiting the sick and helping others because that was a part of who I am. The connection my mother had to the church always kept me connected by extension.”
In 1988 Mr Jones had a life-altering experience when his brother Leon died suddenly. The grief led him back to his Christian faith.
“When my brother died, I found myself back in church because I knew that was the place I could find healing. I knew God was calling me by I kept resisting.”
Mr. Jones lived with the conflicting feelings for many years before finally deciding to pursue ministry in a formal way.
“It took me several years but in 1998 I completed my bachelor’s of arts in theology and in 2001 my master’s in pastoral studies.”
Even while pursuing his studies, he did not profess to be a Christian and was unsure about pastoring or engaging in full-time ministry.
“Becoming a pastor or senior pastor was never my intention. But God kept leading me into ministry and I just followed Him.”
In 2005 Mr Jones was invited to Prince Chapel to preach at a Men’s Day service. Two months later he was offered a position to pastor the church.
“Of course, I was reluctant to accept. I didn’t want this. But it had become clear that this was what God wanted for me and I finally decided to surrender to His will.”
“I’m so glad I did surrender because this has been a beautiful and life-changing experience. I have baptised many young people and that will always be the highlight of my ministry, bringing young people to God.”
Like most churches around the world, Prince Chapel had to grow its ministry by using technology during the pandemic. Mr Jones took to Facebook to start sharing his sermons and keep connected with his members.
This also allowed him to reconnect with his family and friends back home and share his ministry in Bermuda.
After 16 years in this position, Mr Jones is looking forward to the next chapter God has for him.
“Sometimes your calling chooses you. I don’t know exactly what is next for my ministry, but I know that God will reveal it to me.”