Voices of faith: Buford pastor, therapist believes in second chances

The Rev. Richard Douglas is the pastor of Living Faith Church in Buford. He is also a licensed Christian counselor and therapist.

A 64-year-old husband and father of one college-age son, Douglas came to his vocation largely through his compassion for people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.

Living Faith Church exemplifies that compassion through involvement with several programs that exist solely to give people a second chance, such as Good Samaritan Ministries, a recovery home for men in Buford.

Q: How long have you been a pastor? How long have you served at this church?

A: I've been a minister for 12 years and traveled quite a bit. I've been a pastor for eight years and have been at this church for four years.

Q: How and when did you know that this is what you wanted to do as your life's work?

A: In 1995, I got a call to preach. I went to the Atlanta Union Mission and found I had a heart for people struggling with alcohol and drugs. The Atlanta Church Partnership set up an alliance between suburban churches and churches in Atlanta. That experience led me to know that I wanted to be a pastor.

Q: Did you ever consider a different career?

A: I was in marketing for 25 years and worked for some big advertising agencies in New York and Atlanta. Then I got saved and realized that God was putting me on a different career track.

Q: Who would you say was the greatest influence on you and your choice?

A: God. My parents are divorced, and I didn't know my father. My father's family lives here. I found all of his relatives in and around here, which helped me find my roots.

Q: What would you say is the most challenging thing about your job?

A: Keeping everything going - pastoring a church, counseling and Good Samaritan Ministries.

Q: What's the most rewarding thing?

A: As pastor and counselor, the most rewarding thing to me is seeing people who are hurting, trying to live a decent life and struggling to do so.

They don't know why. They don't have a relationship with Christ. Praying with them to receive Christ, to see them heal, to see marriages heal is all very rewarding.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a young person considering entering the ministry, what would it be?

A: Make sure that's really God's calling for your life. I've met young people who think it is, and they get discouraged. Being in full-time ministry is very tough.

Q: What are your long-term goals as pastor of your church?

A: To continue to help our people grow in their faith. We're also building a teaching and training center and will begin offering courses in January. We'll offer courses and seminars to help people learn how to serve.

Q: Who would you most like to meet, and why?

A: President Bush. I admire him for his convictions. I admire his faith. He's tried to do things from a conviction that really cares about the country.

Q: If you had to name one thing that's changed the most in Gwinnett's religious trends over the years, what would it be?

A: New nondenominational churches. When we first came here in 2000, there weren't that many churches in our area. Now there are about a dozen near our house. People have the opportunity to worship where they're comfortable.

Q: What is your favorite scripture?

A: John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

The most important word for me is "whoever." God does not exclude people, but wants to include everyone. It's encouraging for life.

We believe in community outreach. We believe people are in need of encouragement and help. We try to do what we can to bring those things to people. We work with people in prison and those who have been in prison. It's needed. People need a second chance to be successful.

For more information about Living Faith Church in Buford, visit www.livingfaithchurch.info. For information about Good Samaritan Ministries, visit www.goodsamaritanatlanta.org or call 770-271-9888.

Each week, the Daily Post profiles a different religious leader in Gwinnett. If you have a suggestion on who we should profile next, e-mail features@gwinnettdailypost.com.