Steven Dresen was not the probable candidate to be voted most likely to succeed in pastoral ministry. However, on the night of his high school graduation rehearsal, a New Testament from The Gideons found its way into his hands. What would unfold next in Steven’s life is a testimony of God’s grace and provision.
No Christian Influence
Steven was raised in Russell County, Alabama. His homelife was not one that encouraged a knowledge of God, and Steven doesn’t remember attending church as a child. As a high school student, the temptations of drugs and alcohol absorbed his young life.
As Steven prepared for graduation, he felt a pull to enlist in the Navy. Steven received a New Testament from a Gideon on the night of graduation rehearsal—he didn’t desire the gift but accepted it anyway, having no idea the impact it would make in his life down the road.
A Sinner in Need of a Savior
Steven got off drugs, packed his bags, and headed off to boot camp at the Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois. While adjusting to his new life, Steven decided to read the New Testament given to him. He came across Psalm 32:1 (ESV), “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” The words of Scripture penetrated Steven’s heart—he was a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. There in the late night of boot camp, Steven accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”—Psalm 32:1 (ESV)
Steven left the Navy after receiving an honorable discharge for medical reasons. The Lord led Steven to Oswichee Baptist Church in Fort Mitchell, Alabama, where he publicly professed his faith in Christ through baptism. Denny Helton, the pastor, became like a spiritual father to Steven and took the time to invest in and mentor him over the years.
Through this discipleship relationship, Steven felt a call to serve in pastoral ministry. He knew he needed to be prepared to live out this calling, so he left for Mount Vernon, Georgia, to attend Brewton-Parker College as a Christian Studies major. It was there Steven became active in the Baptist Collegiate Ministries and experienced valuable growth opportunities by serving on mission trips.
After graduating from college, Steven felt God’s call to continue formal training and completed a Master’s degree. While in seminary, Steven met Heather, whom he married in April 2011. Soon after, Steven sensed the Lord opening a door for him to begin serving full-time in ministry. A year later, he became an associate pastor and then went through the ordination process in 2013.
Hearts and Lives Still Changed
On the heels of seven years of pastoral ministry, Steven sees the biggest challenge in ministry today as general apathy to spiritual realities both inside and outside the church. “Many profess faith in Christ and church membership when there is no real sign of pursuing Christ—some haven’t darkened the doors of a church in years,” says Steven.
Steven stays encouraged by seeing the Spirit of God move in the hearts and lives of people God has placed in his congregation. One instance he remembers vividly:
Last year, the husband of a church member who didn’t know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior had been experiencing several health problems. He began the year being diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Months later, he fell and broke his femur. All this time, I had been making every effort to share the Gospel with him, but he was disinterested. Soon after, the man fought a severe infection and nearly died. After he was taken off sedation and ventilation, praise the Lord, I was able to share the Gospel again. As a result, he received Jesus Christ in the intensive care unit. Recently, he passed away. To God be the glory, I was able to provide comfort to the family by pointing to the dramatic transformation God worked in the man’s life between his salvation and death.
“Many profess faith in Christ and church membership when there is no real sign of pursuing Christ—some haven’t darkened the doors of a church in years.”
To Win others to the Lord Jesus Christ
Driven by a love for the Word of God, Steven and his wife Heather continue in their passion for reaching people for Christ. Steven holds a special place in his heart for partnering with The Gideons International to best love his community as Christ taught.
Since the night he opened a copy of God’s Word given by The Gideons, Steven has dedicated his life to sharing the Gospel with others. A once unlikely candidate for pastoral ministry, he can now easily relate to the passion of Gideons—to win others to the Lord Jesus Christ.