The following is an article I was asked to write for Pennsylvania’s Talents for Christ program.
The Impact of Talents for Christ
by Rev. Erich Brooks
I want to share with you a story of how Talents for Christ has impacted a life. Actually, it is my life, and I am so grateful for the involvement I had in Talents for Christ which helped to hone my talents and use them for the cause of Christ.
I am the second of four siblings, and in our family it was expected that we all participate somehow in Talents for Christ (over the years, all of us competed in various categories and each won states and continued on to compete nationally). My older sister competed in the Bible Knowledge category, but I didn’t think I was smart enough to remember whole books of the Bible. I didn’t play an instrument, either, so that kind of narrowed it down to one potential category – Male Public Speaking. At first this sounded a little – actually a lot – nerve-racking to be speaking up in front of people, but I needed to compete in something. Through my dad’s coaching and much practice, even presenting my speech in a couple churches ahead of the competition, I made it through. The two years I competed in Pennsylvania, I won the competition and had opportunity to go on to the national Talents for Christ competition. I know the one year I placed third nationally, but I never found out the other year. I was disappointed to not win at Nationals, but in hindsight, winning wasn’t the most important aspect of the competition. God used the experiences, even more than the pleasure of winning, to prepare me for future ministry and to help this shy, quiet teen develop the confidence to be able to speak in front of others.
After high school, I went to Bible college in the youth pastoral program. My freshman year, my favorite class was speech class. While away at college, I attended a small Baptist church where I preached my first full Sunday morning sermon. I’ll never forget stepping up to the pulpit that morning, looking out across the congregation, and finding that that day, of all days, several very well-known Bible scholars and college professors chose to visit our church! Needless to say, it shook me a little more to be preaching in front of those individuals. I do remember that I kind of flew through my notes that morning and finished fifteen minutes early. I continued to preach occasionally there, and I was approached just before my senior year of college about becoming their pastor. This was a real shock since I wasn’t even out of college. In working through that decision, spending much time in prayer, and meeting with the pulpit committee, I didn’t feel the Lord was directing me at that time into the pastoral ministry, but this was one more way the Lord was opening up my heart to the pastoral ministry.
The Lord continued to guide my steps and open opportunities to speak in front of others in church and at camp. Eventually I was called to pastor Cowlesville Baptist Church in Western New York where I served for twelve years. During those years I had opportunities to speak at conferences, camps, and Christian schools, as well as to lead a pastors and wives fellowship in the Buffalo area. In 2015, I transitioned to being on the road as an evangelist. Since then, I have had the opportunity to speak in many different churches. Do I still get nervous? Yes, sometimes I do. Most of our ministry is focused on smaller churches, but last year I spoke at a church of around 350-400 people. I was fine until I remembered the church service was also broadcast on the radio. Then I started sweating, and my heart began to race! Once I got into sharing the Word of God, though, all was fine. I am humbled to think that God uses me, someone who was so shy as a kid, to communicate His truth. I also thank God for the Talents for Christ program, which pushed me to develop the ability God has blessed me with of speaking forth the Word of God.
I would encourage you to put the abilities God has given you to work in your local church and to encourage the young people around you to do the same. It can have a great impact in directing others to our great God!