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At a young age, everyone told Josh Reed that he would grow up to be a pastor.
“I never wanted to, but I knew that God called me to be a preacher,” Reed said. “I was just kind of like Jonah and was running from it as much as I could.”
After high school, Reed moved to Ohio to be with his father’s family and continued to still be involved in church, helping with the youth group and children’s ministries.
“Anytime something was going on, I was there.”
Josh began working as a forklift operator at a Walmart Distribution Center in Wellsville, Ohio. It was in Ohio that a chance encounter would change the course of his life. While Christmas shopping with his brother for their mother’s present, Josh saw Jennifer Warner at the register.
“I told my brother look at that girl behind the register, she’s hot,” Reed said.
Being ten years older than Jennifer at the time, Reed didn’t think much of it and moved on. Weeks went by, then Josh’s mother invited him to a Christmas Cantata.
“She just asked me to come and watch, so I said yeah, sure.”
As he’s watching the cantata, Josh noticed a familiar face on stage playing the djembe drum. “I looked at my brother and said hey, that’s the girl from Penny’s,” Josh said.
Being older than her, plus just going through a divorce and having four kids, began to give him reservations. “We didn’t talk, I didn’t say hi.”
However, Josh continue to go to Wellsville Christian Church. It was in June at a Father’s Day Banquet that he’d caught Jennifer’s attention while sharing a table.
“I was goofing off and clowning around at the table and had them laughing the entire time,” Reed said. “Her dad (Chrisman Christian Church Pastor Troy Warner) told her that he didn’t realize I was that talkative and funny.”
A few weeks later on July 4th, Josh asked Jennifer if she wanted to go to a barbecue and hang out. Using his brother’s cellphone, Jennifer was under the impression that it was his brother asking her.
“I took my brother’s truck to pick her up. Everyone was in the house and her dad was in the driveway,” Reed said. “Her dad said when I got out of the truck, her face lit up because it was me and not my brother.”
That night of hanging out led to their first date, but before Josh took her out, he went to her father.
“I took him out to Bob Evans and asked for permission to date her because of the age difference,” Reed said. “He said if my daughter is going to say yes, then I don’t have a problem with you dating her.” They’ve been together now for twelve years and have two children together.
Though his life was going great, the calling to be a pastor never left. “Every single job that he had, he was never really happy,” his wife Jennifer told us. “I think the reason that he wasn’t happy was because he wasn’t following God’s will.”
Three months ago, during their pastor’s sermon about your calling, Josh felt the need to be a pastor grow stronger. “I was listening to our pastor’s message at church and felt like the Holy Spirit was really just bugging me about it, saying ‘What are you running from? Why are you running?’” Reed said.
“It really hit home (with us),” Jennifer said. “We were like ok, you can’t keep running.”
It was at that point that Josh thought it had become more of a sin to not follow what God was wanting him to do. “I decided to look at ministry options and go forward full time into ministry, which was a huge step,” Josh said. “There’s a lot of questions of ‘what if’ and different things that you’re not used to and a lot of things that are just unknown.”
Josh and Jennifer continued to pray about it and Josh applied for a ministry position at Wellsville Christian Church. “At the time I applied, I told them that I would either be here or I would be taking a position in Chrisman,” Reed said.
Wellsville decided to hire the other applicant, which meant that the Reed family would be heading to Chrisman. After several Skype interviews with the church and board members, Josh formally accepted the job offer the Chrisman Christian Church.
Once Josh accepted the Chrisman position, he soon found out that the youth pastor that was hired in Wellsville worked for two days, then stepped down.
“I looked at her and thought that’s weird,” Reed said. “Obviously, God wanted me in Chrisman.” Jennifer agreed that Wellsville wasn’t where they were meant to be.
“God will close that one door if he doesn’t want you there,” she said. “It just kind of showed that we weren’t supposed to be there.”
After accepting the position, the Reed family had a month and a half to get to Chrisman. This would’ve been easier, had their current home not been in the remodeling phase. “I had four projects started, but not done,” Josh said. “We had the kitchen, the bathroom and the living room being remodeled, plus at the same time, we were just finishing putting a pool in our backyard.”
Six week is a short time to get everything done, but the remodel was completed and the house was put on the market. Twenty hours of being on the market, they received a call that their house received a bid for well above their asking price. “Too many things were just falling into place for us to be able to within two months quit jobs, get our house on the market, sell it as fast as we did, move out here and start going into ministry full time,” Josh said.
When he accepted the position, the church stated they were looking for a youth pastor, so Josh thought that he was going to be a youth minister.
“When we got out here, it was more of not youth as in high school, but kindergarten through seniors in high school,” Reed said.
Even though the youth is operating under Chrisman Christian Church, Josh and Jennifer wanted to have another name for their mission. “We talked about it and prayed and we really like the name ‘Lighthouse Youth Ministries’,” Josh said.
Lighthouse will be an umbrella name that covers kindergarten through high school, then develops programs for young adults that are just out of high school and thinking about going into college, the workforce or the military.
“Sometimes they feel like there’s nothing for them at church anymore because after youth group, it’s adult bible school,” Reed said. “Now we’re starting a young adult program so there’s a class and a group that can meet together so they talk about things they’re going through that’s relevant to them.”
Last week, the church began their youth program. On Wednesday night, the church plans to have a full encompass where the kids can come and have a meal, then break off into classes.
“We’ll have praise and worship with them, then they will go into their classes,” Reed said.
The classes will be kindergarten through second, third through fifth, sixth through eighth, then high school students and the adults would be able to have a class.
Wednesday night will soon become a full family night where it is opened up for different programs for those who attend. “We have people that God has put into place to meet those needs,” Reed said. “We know that God is going to do something bigger than Chrisman has ever seen.”
Sunday nights begin at 6:00 p.m. for the youth service with the age group being sixth grade to twelfth grade. The night will consist of praise and worship, learning from the Bible and games. “I want them to have something fun to do,” Josh said. “I want the kids to understand that when they come here, it’s a safe environment for them.”
As the youth program begins to grow, Reed wants to be able to take them to Winter Jam and is currently working with other youth groups in the area to have a lock in at the church.
“We will do an over nighter, find a local band to play some Christian music, have a short message for them and just have a night where we’re hanging out, having pizza, playing games and getting to know each other.”
During the summertime, The Reeds plan to start something called ‘Mission Chrisman’. This will basically be a week long mission trip, but they would stay in Chrisman and help people in the community with the projects they need help with. Mission Chrisman would possibly involve someone needing a wheelchair ramp and the youth would build it for them, along with trash being picked up and painting that would need done. Eventually, the mission trip would move to every couple of years, going out of state to help those in need.
“That would be our ministry,” Jennifer said. “To reach out to those who need a little bit of extra help. I know that God has definitely put us here. There’s a need for youth ministry and there’s a need for us to reach out to get those kids back into church. They need to know the love of Christ.”