Pastor Willie Estis is a true, down-to-earth gospel preacher with strong family roots and a desire to serve the people in his church. His wife, Denese, is also a pastor and leads the youth ministry at their church, Chosen by God Ministry. Born in Monroe, La., Willie recently relocated to the Atlanta area and trained under Dr. William L. Sheals at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church for about a year.
Q: How long have you been a pastor?
A: For a year and 8 months, as long as I've been pastor at Chosen by God Ministry.
Q: How did you make the decision to become a pastor?
A: When I was young, I always admired my pastor. I wanted to be like him, and I always had a compassion for God and his people. I was in Monroe studying under a bishop, and when I came back here, my sister called me about leading an Easter service. This was in 2006. I saw then that God had a purpose for me.
Q: Did you ever do anything else professionally?
A: I had several customer service jobs. In that line of work, you interact with people. I always had compassion for them.
Q: Did anyone in particular influence you to become a pastor?
A: Several people - Pastor E.D. Nation, Pastor Michael Reed, Bishop Steven Glover and Bishop Don Banks in Louisiana. I also have to say that my grandmother, Ruby Pratt, greatly influenced me. I remember every Sunday morning she'd sing her hymns and make sure we all went to church.
Q: What's the hardest thing about being a pastor?
A: As a pastor, you labor so much for people. You're there for their needs, and on Sunday morning when you sometimes see only a few people in church, that's hard. But you still have to do it; you have to preach and keep serving.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a reader who might be considering entering the ministry, what would it be?
A: Make sure God has called you, not another man. When you feel this calling, wait for God to elevate you. Don't let people push you. Through the adversity and setbacks, trust in God and do His work.
Q: If you got the chance to meet anyone, whom would you choose?
A: My grandfather, because of all of the wonderful stories I've heard (about) how he cared for his family and provided. No matter what came his way, he never bent or broke. I'd like to say thank you to him.
Q: What changes have you seen in Gwinnett's worship trends over the years you've been here?
A: The people here are so hungry for the word of God. Ministries focus so much on prosperity. Some of the churches aren't teaching about the warfare that's going on all around us. There's too much of a focus on prosperity and not on deliverance.
Q: What's your favorite scripture?
A: Matthew 22:14, "For many are called, but few are chosen."
Being chosen is an awesome privilege. So many of us are misfits. No one wanted us. It's like we're a black rock being kicked around in the streets. Then God picks us up, sands us off and He finds gold. I want to invite people to our church. If they come, they'll enter into the presence of God. We care. I am available to serve them. God called me and my wife to build a church based on love, caring and sharing.
Chosen by God Ministry meets at the Quality Inn near Gwinnett Place Mall, 3500 Venture Boulevard in Duluth. Call 678-927-6619 or visit www.chosenbygodministry.com for more information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.