BY MELANIE BUCK –
Dallas Avenue Baptist Church recently hired a new youth pastor and developed a new structure for their youth groups as well. Michael Sanchez grew up in Romance, Ark. and graduated from Rose Bud High School in 2003. “The Lord called me when I was a senior in high school to be a youth minister. My calling is not to fill the pulpit, it’s to work with students,” said Sanchez.
He said that when he was young, his grandfather, who was also a pastor, told him to never make a deal with God. It was a lesson that he would later learn the hard way. “When my little brother was six, he was shot with a pellet gun. The pellet went through his heart into his left ventricle,” Sanchez explained. “I made a deal with God that if He would save my brother, I would do whatever he wanted.”
And although he tried to skirt that deal a couple of times, God always called him back. “I wanted to play baseball. But in between my junior and senior year, I was at Siloam Springs. That’s when I realized I needed to fulfill my promise.
Sanchez would go on to attend Ouachita Baptist University to major in kinesiology and minor in youth ministries. While in college, Sanchez admits that he backslid for a time, drinking and such. He attended Arkansas State University in Beebe for welding before becoming a firefighter for the North Little Rock Fire Department for nine years.
His first stint as a youth pastor was at Highway Baptist in Sherwood as a volunteer. Valley Baptist in Searcy served as his next step, working with junior high students. His most recent church was in Sheridan at Calvary Baptist where he served as youth pastor.
Sanchez found an ad online that led him and his family, wife Cassandra, and children, Hunter, 7, and Gracie, 6, to Dallas Avenue Baptist Church in Mena. He was hired in early May and is enjoying his new post. “It’s going great. We have a great group of students,” said Sanchez. He explained the youth building has undergone a remodel and a new classroom structure.
Sanchez is the Youth/Children’s Pastor and not only teaches his own youth group, grades 7 through 12, but also supports Clint Bell, who teaches Kindergarten through 4th grade, and Ronnie Wagnor, who teaches a new 5th and 6th grade group. They have launched a new 8-week class series also. Students have their choice of which class to take and they include theology, apologetics, topical studies, girls only, boys only, and more. The students will be able to rotate to a different subject every eight weeks.
Sanchez has a heart for the students and hopes to continue to build class participation and spread God’s love. “When a student starts gaining a knowledge of who God is, all the other things will come naturally. I want to see them come to know Jesus Christ as their personal savior; to become disciples so that they can become disciple makers. When they come to know Christ, they’ll know true love, true peace, and true hope.”
Dallas Avenue Baptist Church has Sunday School services at 9:45 each Sunday morning and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday nights. On Wednesday afternoons, the gym is opened right after school. “Come hang out, have snacks, and have a meal,” said Sanchez. Youth services begin on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. There is a van that will transport if needed, just call 479-394-2697.