City College senior, 'on fire for God,' takes to pulpit Gospel radio show is other ministry

November 22, 1992|By Deborah Overton | Deborah Overton,Staff Writer

Seven years ago, Robert Matthews spent Sunday mornings in front of the television watching wrestling matches. Now the 17-year-old preaches in front of a congregation.

"God has a plan for our lives," said Robert during a recent sermon at Renewed Hope Church in East Baltimore. "No matter what the devil may do, whatever the Lord says he's going to do, he'll do."

Robert is a senior at Baltimore City College and president of the student government. He preaches once a month at local churches and presides over a gospel show on WEAA, Morgan State University's radio station.

Robert says he was 14 years old when God called him to the ministry. At first, he preached at home, pretending he was in the pulpit.

"When I did it I was serious, but I never had any intentions of becoming a preacher," Robert recalled.

Later, he preached during a church event that gives teen-agers a chance to give sermons on the Scriptures. Robert is a member of El Bethel Prayer Tabernacle in the 1700 block of N. Gay St.

But church did not always interest Robert. When he was a youngster, his mother took him to church, "but my heart just wasn't in it," he recalled. By the time Robert turned 10, he had stopped attending church and stayed home to watch wrestling on TV.

He did not return to church for four years. Robert's mother, Alexis Jones, would always ask him when he was going back to church.

One Sunday, Robert made good on a promise to his mother and visited El Bethel.

After several visits, Robert became an active member of the congregation.

"I just came to the knowledge of the truth I had to be saved in order to receive eternal life, and I need to be in the fellowship [with other Christians]," Robert recalled.

On May 24, Robert became a licensed minister by El Bethel, an Apostolic church, and he is recognized by other Baltimore churches as a minister.

The license gives him the right to practice ministry. However, until he's ordained, he can't officiate over a service or a Communion. He said he is thinking about attending theology school but hasn't yet made up his mind.

"For Robert to be as young as he was, he showed such a high level of dedication," said Jaqueline Hicks, youth leader at the church. "When it came down to an understanding of the Scripture, he had such a high understanding. It was hard not to recognize that something was going on."

Pastor Joan Sanders said Robert will be helped in his ministry by his compassion.

"He's always concerned for his fellow brethren, and that's one of the gifts you have to have, the love of people the love of mankind," she said.

Rudolph "Sonny" Urquheart, a 27-year-old waiter, was one of the people Robert touched through a sermon.

"I was one of those young men that stood on the corner," Mr. Urquheart said. "It's all about Christ [now]."

Karen Proctor, 28, the treasurer of El Bethel Prayer Tabernacle, said watching Robert preach makes her happy.

"As soon as he got the Holy Ghost he just took off," she said. "Ever since then, he's just been on fire for God."

On Mondays and Saturdays Robert attends classes at a Bible institute offered through his church. He also leads a youth Bible study at his church.

In 1989, Robert became a disc jockey for the Gospel Grace show on WEAA-FM. Every other Sunday he presides over the show as host from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

"I like talking. I like communicating. I like people," he said.

Robert's ability to balance his life between school and church makes him a an "ideal role model," Ms. Hicks said.

"He leads the balanced Christian life," Ms. Hicks said. "He is not consumed with church and religion, but he applies the principles of good character learned through his home life and church to his secular activities such as school and the community."

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