Deacon Nominees’ Testimonies

Stephen Estes

I first came to know Jesus Christ by my mother’s side when I was still a very young boy. My story isn’t a conversion from atheism or another religion, but it is a story of transformation. Though I was young, Ephesians 2:1 tells me that I was “dead” in my sin, so what happened that day twenty five years ago was a spiritual resurrection! God worked a miracle in my heart by giving me saving faith, though I know very well that I have never done anything to merit His grace. He opened my eyes to see the goodness of the gospel and my need for a Savior, albeit with the faith of a young child at the time.

Since that time, I have seen a mountain of evidence that allows for no doubt of my sinful nature or of God’s faithfulness. Despite having every advantage of a believing family, a church family, and access to God’s Word, I still have chosen my own way innumerable times and done the things I hate, rather than delighting in God. I have no excuse, especially in light of the spiritual blessings I have enjoyed. My life has left no doubt in my mind that I desperately need my Savior to hold me fast and save me to the end. I would have fallen away from my God long ago, if it weren’t for His mercy and grace.

As I grew up, God used several people and ministries to soften my heart and increase my faith in Him. Here at FBC Durham, my pastors and teachers faithfully taught me to love God and His Word. Andy Winn had an especially important role in helping me to take more ownership of my faith and increasing my desire to participate in God’s mission in the world. During college, I was blessed by InterVarsity’s campus ministry, and their staff increased my passion for ministry and outreach. It was also during these years that I first read Desiring God by John Piper, which showed me that only God could be the true fountain of my joy and ignited my heart with a passion for God and His glory.

Since I married Maria, in 2013, we both have continued to grow and flourish as members of the church family here at FBC. God has blessed us so much through you over these four years, and I am so grateful for your ministry to us. Meanwhile, I have continued to study at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest.

By serving as a deacon, I hope that I might be able to continue serving our church. Specifically, Maria and I enjoy co-teaching elementary BFL, and I have also had the delight to serve with Kevin Schaub in the Youth Ministry. More recently, God has increased my desire and courage for evangelism through our church’s outreach to the Liberty Street neighborhood. I cherish being a member of FBC, and it is a joy to participate in God’s work in Durham and the world beyond. I look forward to continuing to minister alongside you, as God graciously continues to lead and sustain us in our journey.

Larry Harrell

Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” My walk with the Lord began when the One who sits on the throne of grace answered the desperate prayer of a 13 year old boy.

My parents divorced when I was young and my mother remarried.  My step-father was an alcoholic and was very abusive to my mom.  One night in particular was worse than the others.  My step-father came home late and began yelling incoherently.   I was in the next room listening to him and my mother arguing and fighting. I dropped down on my hands and knees and urgently prayed that God (if He was really there) would intervene and rescue us. The very next day my step-father packed his bags, left my mother and me, and checked himself into rehab. God had heard my prayer!  Within a year, my mom and dad started dating again and soon remarried.  They have been happily together ever since!   My doubts about the existence and goodness of God dissipated after that night.  I believed in the power of the One who hears and answers with mercy and grace.  I began to attend Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA where I began to be discipled.  It was there that I confessed Jesus Christ as my Savior and the Lord of my life and was baptized. I began to read and study my Bible, pray regularly, and walk with God instead of with the world.  After graduating high school, I joined the military and started attending a military college. During this time, I wandered away from God’s Word and started to trust in my own ability and strength.  After finishing school and my military service, I moved to Durham, NC to begin a new career.  I met Meredith (now my wife) and she invited me to church. I became a member of a local Baptist church and by the leading of the Holy Spirit resumed the daily discipline of Bible study and prayer. After a few years of maturing in my faith, Meredith and I began to crave pure spiritual milk, that by it we would grow up into salvation (1 Peter 2:2).  This led us here to First Baptist Church to continue our walk on this infinite journey.  I am honored to serve my Awesome God and His church in the role of deacon.

Eddie Stephens

One of the advantages of being older is to be able to look back and see God at work. Growing up, my family did not attend church until a local church’s bus ministry knocked on our door one Saturday morning and invited our family to church the next day which was Easter. We went and then periodically attended. I was 10 years old but I remember hearing the Gospel clearly in Sunday School where God used a wonderful gentleman who stuttered badly to teach elementary age boys. Thank the Lord for this humble servant who was willing to serve in what was probably a difficult situation at times. It was by God using this man that I came to accept Christ into my heart a few months later and was baptized. Then my mother and father both accepted Christ and we attended regularly. I can see God working through my high school years, college, and then marrying an amazing woman, Linda, who has been a wonderful wife and mother to our five kids. My life took a totally different trajectory that day the bus ministry worker knocked on our door. His working in our lives glorifies Him and even though I am an extremely imperfect vessel, I see what He did with my Sunday School teacher all those years ago. I can see God working in so many ways, large and small.

We have attended FBC for 11 years and it has been a blessing to our family. I have especially treasured home fellowships and the in-depth teaching I have had the chance to come under which is all in addition to corporate worship.

I wish to serve as a deacon to serve God using the gifts he has given to me. I am very flexible in what that might look like or where the needs may be.

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