If you follow myself or my wife on social media, you would know by now that we recently moved from Michigan to Indian Land, South Carolina. You are probably thinking where? I know right, I thought the same thing. We usually tell people we moved to Charlotte, NC. Indian Land is a suburb of Charlotte. I know you are thinking why the big move? Well…
The Back Story:
First, let me give you some back story to this transition. I am not sure where you are in life or what season of life you may be in, one substantial thing I believe about life is this: God will put you exactly where you need to be. Where you need to be may be for a short season or a long season. Either way, the key is to be obedient where He has you, to serve Him faithfully and allow Him to use you to be a blessing to the community in which you reside.
My last post, When It Felt Like Everything Felt Apart is a great segway to this post you are reading. I would encourage you to take some time and give it a look. 2011 was a tough year for me.
In March of 2011, I had just finished playing semi-pro ball for the East Kentucky Energy. We made it to the final four in the ABA. To go to the final four, we had to play a team from Michigan (my home state) in the regional championship game. Of course, we won. I could not let a team from my hometown show us up 🙂
In November 2011, I decided to move to Benton Harbor, MI to continue to pursue my professional basketball career with the Lake Michigan Admirals, the team we beat in the regional championship. The Admirals had moved to a new league called the Premier Basketball League. I thought if I go there for a season, this will lead to opportunities to play ball overseas or in the NBA D-League.
The decision to head to Benton Harbor honestly was the only thing I had going for me. I wasn’t ready to give up the dream of playing basketball and work a 9-5. I just couldn’t see myself doing that again. So basketball was my only option.
As you read in my previous blog, 2011 was a valley. Little did I know, moving to Benton Harbor, the valley would continue. I was struggling playing with the Admirals. I got to a point where I was contemplating moving back home again with my Mom and starting over from scratch. At this point in my life, I had been walking with God for 6 1/2 years. I began to think to myself, maybe basketball isn’t going to work out the way I hoped it would.
Toward the end of 2011, I began to sense God calling me to go into ministry. I did not know what this meant but I was excited to begin to explore what God wanted to do with my life.
(I documented this season of my life on my Youtube channel: Click here to see them – > J Scott’s Video Documentaries )
My Journey to Ministry:
December 31, 2011 I found myself at a New Year’s Eve service with friends. The minister there was a guest from Atlanta. She was a gifted speaker. Toward the end of service, she had asked me to stand up. She begins to say to me: “Young man, there is a huge call on your life. You may not even know it, but others have been watching your walk with God. You are a leader, and God wants to use you. Continue to press in and see what God has to offer.” Wow right?
Entering into 2012 was a season of intentional prayer. My biggest prayer was this: “God, show me the way and open the door for me to walk in so that I can do the work that You’ve set out for me.”
It was March and my team and I got invited to an after school program called, School of Hope to read to elementary students from Benton Harbor. Little did I know, God had a divine appointment waiting on me. The place where we were reading was run by a non-profit organization called, Mosaic CCDA and the founder (Brian Bennett) who started the non-profit walked in while we were there. Brian is also the lead pastor of Overflow Church. He and the owner of the Admirals were having a conversation and one thing led to another, I was introduced.
Two weeks later, we were having lunch together and he offered me an internship to work with the youth in the inner city of Benton Harbor. Without ever visiting the church, I gladly accepted. I knew this opportunity was an answer to prayer. It was the door I had been praying for to pursue my call to ministry. April 30th, 2012 my journey began with Overflow.
Myself and Pastor Brian
My Journey with Overflow Church:
Beginning my journey with Overflow Church, I did not know what to expect. I was just excited to serve and begin to learn what ministry is all about. My hope was to be able to serve God, the church, minister to youth, lead and impact others along the way. I had to learn quickly that you have to be careful what you pray for. Before I knew it, I was in graduate school at Wesley Seminary, teaching as an Adjunct Instructor and a life coach at Lake Michigan College, coaching basketball for Benton Harbor High School, playing basketball for the Admirals, a youth leader, mentor and working part time for Overflow as the Young Adult Pastor. Talk about hitting the ground running for the Lord!
Life seemed to be going fast paced for me. My leadership was growing at an extremely fast pace. God was moving. Students and young adults were coming to the Lord, lives were being transformed and on top of that, I was creating life long relationships. By December 2013, after 21 days of fasting and praying, I became the youth pastor of Overflow Church and joined the staff full time.
I am truly thankful for my four years with Overflow Church and for the leadership of Pastor Brian. He truly pulled me under his wing, mentored and discipled me. I will forever be grateful for our weekly Thursday morning 9am meetings where as Proverbs 27:17 says, “iron sharpens iron.” God used those meeting times to grow my walk in the Lord and to grow me as a leader. Love ya brother!
Love and Marriage!?
In the midst of my journey in Benton Harbor, I got engaged May 24, 2013, and married a year later May 24, 2014. You can read the love story of my wife, Jasmine and I here: J Scott and Jasmine’s Love Story. It is a pretty good story if I say so myself.
How I got to Indian Land, SC:
I know you’ve been waiting for the answer to how my wife and I got to South Carolina. I thought you would be interested in the back story first.
Toward the beginning of 2015, I began to sense that my wife and I’s time in Benton Harbor was coming to an end. I did not know if we would be leaving in 2015, 2016 or in a few years. All I knew, I needed to begin to pray and process with people I trust and that had a lot more wisdom than me to help me discern what the future may look like for the Samarco’s.
Having this transition in the back of my mind, I thought God would be leading my wife and I back to the metro-Detroit area near my hometown Ypsilanti. Well, God had different plans.
Two years ago, myself and a good friend of mine went to a youth conference in California put on by UYWI. (sidenote: this is the best youth conference around). Last year, my wife and I went back out to the conference.
Prior to going to the conference, each participant that registered for the conference got drawn into a contest. The contest was this: Whoever name is drawn will have the chance to sit down with a speaker of their choice. Somehow I ended up winning! Crazy right!? So out of the 5 speakers that were listed, I knew 3 of them and the other two I’ve heard about. One of the speakers that I wanted to get to know and talk life/ministry with was, Pastor Derwin Gray. Pastor Derwin leads a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped church called, Transformation Church along with a lot of other Gospel-centered leaders.
Having lunch with Pastor Derwin at UYWI
While having an amazing lunch conversation with Pastor Derwin, I was able to meet Erick Hodge, who you do not see in this photo because he is the one holding the phone. Me and Erick got cool. I ended up attending another conference in August that Pastor Derwin and Erick were attending. Me, Erick and another friend ended up having dinner. At this time I heard of a training Transformation was doing at their church in October, called The HD Leader based off PD’s recent book on what it means to live a multi-ethnic life, and how to create a multi-ethnic, gospel-centered, mission-shaped church.
I told Erick I would be attending and he said I could crash at his place! I came down to TC in October and had such an amazing time. I was blown away by what God was doing through the church and the people there. In the midst of my time at TC, I learned that their teen director position had just opened up. Instead of jumping at the opportunity, I first wanted to pray and discern with my wife if this is something we should pursue…
After praying and talking with my wife, we went forward. I began going through the interview process. As I was going through the process, I believe God began to make it clear that this would be an amazing opportunity. Of course, God already knew the outcome. After 4 months of prayer, fasting, interviews and a visit to Transformation, God opened the door for my wife and I to have the opportunity to move to the south and for me to join on staff as the Teen Director of Transformation Church. Crazy cool God story right?
The Journey Continues…
So here we are! Excited for this next chapter. Trusting God in this process and thanking God for the journey. I know He has great things in store for us and all of the teens at Transformation Church. I am anticipating God to do some really big things!
I recently ran across Psalm 20:4 that says, “May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
My desire is to continue to serve Him wholeheartedly, passionately and faithfully. My plans are to simply share the Gospel in simplistic as well as creative ways to reach people for the Kingdom. May God’s perfect will be done in our lives.
P. S. Keep us lifted up in prayer as we get acclimated. Also, pray for my Overflow fam, all of the students and our family back home in Michigan. Thank you! Love each of you!