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January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King Day 2: Pastor credits power of faith with dramatic turnaround

NEW CASTLE — The Rev. David Young Sr.’s life changed one night in the Gables Hotel.

The then-21-year-old was sitting in the now-defunct Grant Street drinking establishment when, he says, God spoke to him.

“It was a time in my life that I was making bad decisions,” said Young after yesterday’s memorial service to honor late civil right leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., where he served as the keynote speaker. “My son, David, was about 17 months old, I wasn’t married, had dropped out of college and had no job. I spent my nights drinking and getting high.

“All of a sudden, I was sitting at the bar with a beer in front of me and that cartoon went through my head with the angel on one side and the demon with a pitchfork on the other side. Those two voices battled it out for a while and all of a sudden, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. That was not where I wanted my life to be.”

Young, a former Union High football, basketball and baseball star, says he left a nearly-full beer on the bar and went to find his partying friends.

“I told them that was the last time they would see my in that situation, that from that moment on, I was giving my life to the Lord.”

It was not the first time Young had entertained that thought.

“When I growing up, everyone thought I was going to become a preacher,” he said. “In fact, when I played high school baseball, my nickname was ‘Rev.’

“But things changed and I lost my way. I had to hit bottom before I found it again.”

Although he had grown up as a member of Second Baptist Church, Young was familiar with the Rev. Eric Brooks of Ebenezer Church of God in Christ through David Jr.’s mother, his then-girlfriend, whom he later married. He contacted Brooks, and Brooks took him under his wing, paying him to do odd jobs at his house to earn some money, while making him a part of the church.

Young became a licensed, non-ordained minister at Ebenezer and preached his first sermon there in October 1983, at the age of 22. He went on to receive a bachelor of science degree from Geneva College and became an ordained minister in 1993. He is the founder and senior pastor of Prevailing Word World Outreach Center in New Castle.

He is founder and chief instructor at the Manna from Heaven School of Ministry and also founded “Strive for Excellence,” a character development course he has taught in local high school classrooms and student body assemblies. Young is the organizer of the Prevailing Word World Outreach Center — India, which is a network of pastors and churches in Kerela, India. He carries the title of “apostle,” because his work extends far past the church where he serves as pastor.

Now 51, Young found himself returning more than 28 years after he first ascended the pulpit at Ebenezer to serve as the main speaker at yesterday’s memorial. At his side was his wife of 20 years, Diane, who is a pastor at Prevailing Word.

“God has been so good to me,” he said. “I have a wonderful family and I get to do what I love every day — preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Young, who vividly remembers King’s assassination in 1968 while a 7-year-old student at West Side School, says while he knows he falls far short of the good accomplished by King, he has tried his best to pattern his life after the man who did so much to promote nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement and protest racial discrimination.

“He was an amazing man,” Young said. “There were not only white people who were against him, but some blacks as well felt that violence was the way to deal with racial discrimination,. But he spent his life making people understand that was not the way.”

Young said he was thrilled to return to the pulpit where his career began to honor King.

“This was such an honor for me,” he said. “I hope I was able to share a little of God’s greatness today.”

(Email: kcubbal@ncnewsonline.com).



 

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