Eight-year-old Trevonte Peterson sat with his family in the wooden pew, singing and listening to the preacher give the message like they did every Sunday morning. For generations, Peterson’s family had attended the same little church in Greenville, Alabama, but on that particular Sunday morning, his eyes grew wide as dozens of people made their way to the front of the church to kneel and pray. It had been a powerful service, and the scene made an such an impression on Peterson, that he calls it a turning point in his life. It was the moment he discovered his calling to be a preacher.
“They came forward with tears in their eyes. They were heart-felt tears and I had this feeling. I thought if I could help someone get to that point that would be an amazing thing,” Peterson said.
After that pivotal service, Peterson went to his minister, asking to preach his first sermon. Instead of telling Peterson to wait until he was older, the minister took him under his wing and teaching him the scriptures three days a week.
During a Christmas service eight months later, Peterson preached his first sermon, and he’s been preaching and sharing the Gospel ever since.
Now, at the age of 23, Peterson is often introduced as the youngest pulpit minister in the Church of Christ. He preaches full time at a church in Fort Walton Beach, Florida and has spoken at conferences and gospel meetings, during Chapel on Faulkner’s campus and has led devotionals for fellow students.
“If you give it over to God and are serious, doors will be open to you,” Peterson said.
He came to Faulkner University in 2014 and again in 2017 to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies with a Ministry track and plans to graduate in December.
“Even when I was a young age, I knew about Jesus, I had knowledge of right and wrong and I had a strong desire to work in the church and share the Gospel,” Peterson said. “That’s why I’m here. This is my mission and I need to be about my Father’s business.”
“I go back to what Paul said to Timothy when he said, ‘Let no man despise your youth.’ Never allow what you see to be the hindering of your dreams. There’s no such thing as I can’t if you are willing to put in the work to make it happen.”
The Sweetwater Church of Christ in Jacksonville, Fla. is looking forward to Peterson stepping into their church’s lead minister position after he graduates according to Richard Coffey, Sr., who has served as the church’s minister for the last 42 years. Two years ago, Coffey began looking for someone who could take over the role. When he heard Peterson preach at the Sylvania Heights Church of Christ in Fort Walton Beach, he knew he had found the right man.
“We were just in awe of his message after we heard him and we knew we had to bring him to Sweetwater so everyone could have a chance to hear him,” Coffey said. “The entire congregation of all generations and our elders have really taken to him and that was the most important thing. We’re just so blessed. With God’s help, he will go far.”
Peterson is excited for the chance to serve the people at Sweetwater, but more importantly for the chance to continue the Lord’s work there.
“I have nothing to boast or brag about, only in the cross of Jesus Christ. I am only able to be called righteous because of Christ’s righteousness,” Peterson said. “It’s a free gift. Because he died for me, I will live for him.”