A freshman with faith
GV student-preacher offers direction
Many first-year students at Grand Valley State University come to school unsure of what they want to do with their lives. The Rev. Lincoln Norris, a student at GVSU, already knows what he wants to do and has been doing it for years.
“I want to make a change in the world,” Norris said. “I want to teach others about the good news. Some people don’t know the right way to go, and I think there are a lot of people who are trying and just need a little help to find the right direction.”
The 18-year-old freshman first accepted the title of reverend in September 2009 when he was a freshman in high school. He began to preach at the Greater Apostolic Faith Temple in Detroit and also traveled to different churches to speak on behalf of the pastor for anniversaries, birthdays and funerals.
“I can’t lie, when I first started out I was nervous,” Norris said. “After a while you start to get the hang of it. For the most part, it’s a very enjoyable experience. Not only do you get to preach to people you know in your community, but you also get to reach out and encounter people from other countries. I’ve come into contact with people of all different kinds of nationalities and denominations. It’s been a great experience to have.”
Norris, a member of the Church of God and Christ, is majoring in religious studies and is involved with several prayer and bible studies on campus. Previously, he studied under his uncle, the Rev. James Johnson, and Bishop Gilbert E. Patterson. His young age has never stopped him from pursuing his goal.
“You should have some training in ministry, but you can’t be taught in class how to effectively preach and tell the word to others,” Norris said. “There is no degree that can teach you how to do that. I think staying active in the church is the most basic and important thing to do. It’s important to be passionate. Having a background in teaching helps, but it isn’t everything.”
Norris is currently working on starting his own ministry on campus to provide students with more opportunities for service and worship.
“Especially when people leave for college, their minds wander and don’t know where they are headed,” Norris said. “Sometimes they need a little guidance or just someone to talk to. I’m trying to create a ministry of my own on campus with weekly services for those who want to learn more about the word of God. I want to do this until the Lord calls me home. This is my vision, to teach and preach to others, because I love people and the good we are all capable of doing. I want to help people keep their hearts open.”
Norris’ dream is to one day have his own ministry and church. He also wants to travel and preach throughout Michigan and other states.
“To minister means to be honest with the word,” Norris said. “Teach those who need to be taught, who feel they need to be taught and show them the right way. Teach them so they can help others. To do what God wants and not what man wants. That’s what it means to be a reverend. My dream is to reach millions.”