Pastors pass active faith to the next generation

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Every Saturday night, Bill Harper gets a text, and he suspects he’s not the only one.

The text lets him know that Steve Sellers is praying for him as he prepares to preach at his church the next morning, and it comes without fail. It came even when Sellers was in the middle of cancer treatments.

But Harper — pastor of First Baptist Church, Red Bay — said Sellers has been using Saturdays to encourage him for a while. It all started when Harper was a teenager and he heard Sellers — then pastor of Berlin Baptist Church, Cullman — preach a revival at an-other church in the area.

“Probably a week or so later, I became a Christian,” Harper said.

He joined Berlin Baptist, and Sellers baptized him. Then Sellers took Harper along on something that became a standing Saturday activity — youth visitation.

“What it consisted of was Steve going and witnessing to people and us tagging along and watching,” Harper said, noting that sometimes it was just the two of them and other times it might be several youth.

He started picking up Sellers’ habits and his boldness, and one Saturday when Sellers had a schedule conflict and left the youth to go by themselves, Harper led a high school classmate to the Lord.

“I jokingly tell people that Steve double-crossed us that day,” Harper said.

But he quickly adds he’s grateful — Sellers taught him how to be hands-on with disciple-ship, and not too long after that Harper took his first youth pastor position at a nearby church.

Sellers “has been a model to me of spending time with people and pouring into them,” Harper said.

Consistent example

Sellers said he has “fond memories” of those Saturdays, but the way he remembers it, he was just passing on what was given to him. When he was a young man, he had strong mentors in his life. His dad, for one, led him to the Lord and was a consistent example of leading others to Jesus. And James Johnson, the pastor who baptized him in Waco, Texas, also had a hand in discipling him.

“He made an impression on me,” Sellers said.

Johnson later followed Sellers to Alabama — he is now pastor emeritus of Cherry Hill Baptist Church, Russellville.

Sellers said he loves seeing God’s ministry through Johnson continue through Harper.

“I appreciate Bill’s heart to win people to Christ and disciple people to Christ,” he said.