Winder pastor has stories to back up his faith

Pastor Charles Reese is a man of God - a man who, in his own words, "has seen miracles firsthand that reinforce (my) belief in God." At 64 years old, Reese and his wife of 42 years have five children and 13 grandchildren. The couple started their first church in Commerce, but Winder is their church home now, at the Barrow Worship Center.

Reese has an easy manner and a distinctive Southern drawl that complements his storytelling finesse. His most moving stories are about his and his family's experiences, and they underscore why he never considered any career other than preaching. As he said, "The Lord just has a hold on my life. I can't help it."

Q: You said you have some stories about miracles.

A: Well, yes. Right before Christmas 2006, my son got a motorcycle. He was 27 years old and lived in Phenix City, Ala. On the way home one night, he saw a car turning in front of him. He remembered hitting the car, remembered getting thrown from the bike, but he doesn't remember landing. My daughter-in-law, who was pregnant with their fourth child, called that night and told us he had been in an accident. She was at the hospital, but she couldn't find out where he was.

I called our oldest daughter, who happened to be in Phenix City at the time. She had a friend who was a sheriff, and she asked him for help in finding her brother. As it turned out, he was in that same hospital. My daughter-in-law called me a few hours later and said that she had someone who wanted to talk to me. It was my son. He had broken his right femur and injured his left shoulder. His helmet was destroyed, but he was fine and able to talk to me. He had to learn to walk again over the next few months.

One of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen was him walking down the hall of the rehabilitation center, pushing that new baby in a stroller.

Q: How did you know that being a pastor is what you wanted to do as your life's work?

A: I traveled and sang with a gospel group, and I found myself dissatisfied with everything - my pastor, even the deacons and ushers in my church. I knew that the problem had to be with me.

At about that same time, at a revival, I kept hearing, "I want you to start preaching," in my head. I finally realized that it was God talking to me. After that, I announced to my pastor that God was calling me to preach. He told me to go start a church somewhere.

Then, I was driving through Commerce. I saw a little boy walking down the street with a coat on, but no shoes. I don't even know why, but I told my wife, "This is where we're supposed to be." She agreed. We were just drawn there.

We started a church, first in a lady's living room, then in someone's hallway. I really believe in my heart, that young boy came to my church. I don't know for sure that it was him, but I think it was.

Q: Did you ever consider a different career?

A: I drive a charter bus from time to time. I was working in Toccoa driving a truck for a while, but I never considered another career.

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

A: Ministry is not easy. I used to tell my pastor when I was younger, "Man, I wish I had a job like that, sitting behind a desk and wearing a suit." He'd just look at me and say, "One day, you'll understand." He was right.

I would like people to come and know the God that I know. I've had the opportunity to take a look on the other side a few times when I've been at peoples' bedsides as they're dying. When a lot of people come to see them, their time is near. God is faithful.

Area residents can view "The Journey," a Barrow Worship Center telecast, on Channel 24 at 5:30 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call 678-617-1884 or 770-867-3552, or visit www.barrowworshipcenter.org.

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.