The next generation has much to offer the world, the United States, and even better, the Kingdom. Discipleship is crucial and Pleasant Valley is passionate about raising leaders who will continue to make disciples. Caleb Ezzell is an example of one of the many students who have come out of PV’s student ministry excited to know God more intimately and passionate about furthering the Kingdom.
When Caleb was in fifth grade, his family began attending Pleasant Valley and quickly became active in different ministries. While Caleb had been a Christian for several years, it was during his time in PV’s middle school and high school ministries and discipleship from their ministry partners that his spiritual life flourished. Caleb and his older brother were actively involved in the ministries of his church while his parents volunteered in the student ministry as well.
When asked about what experiences impacted him the most, Caleb responded:
“I think the biggest impact for me were the mission trips I was able to go on. PV pushes serving as a huge priority – you want to be able to serve the Lord as much as you worship Him and serving is a form of worship. I had the opportunity to serve middle schoolers and lead a team in Dallas. That helped me grow my leadership skills and have intelligent conversations about the Lord. I was able to see how blessed I am and bless others with what I’ve been able to do on mission trips. It has been a practice for how I can evangelize at school and back home.”
In high school, Caleb watched tragedies strike families in PV, and their unwavering faith greatly impacted his own. However, when the Covid-19 virus caused student ministry to go virtual, Caleb struggled to stay consistent in his time with the Lord.
“It was weird going through Covid and not being able to go to Summerfest. It was hard to stay faithful. I still had a good heart posture, but I wasn’t pursuing the Lord, just living a lukewarm life. I wasn’t doing anything bad per say, but I just was definitely living lukewarm.”
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and while still struggling having consistent time with the Lord, Caleb headed off to Missouri State University for college. His goal? Find a girlfriend as soon as possible.
“I was super focused on finding [love] when I got to college, I literally was telling people that when I get to college, I’m finding a girlfriend.”
However, God had different plans in mind for Caleb. Because his older brother was already attending Missouri State and was involved with their college ministry, Caleb knew the importance of finding a church and community quickly. He began attending Fellowship Bible Church and joined a life group. He began going to a college ministry on Thursday nights, and he found a large group of friends who were passionate about knowing the Lord more intimately and spreading the Gospel.
Slowly the Lord started to transform Caleb’s heart and his ideas of what kind of love he needed to pursue.
“I was wrecked because God told me, ‘The only love you need is My love.’ I was blown away at how much I didn’t need the love and approval from other people and how much I felt the love of the Father. I’ve been able to live solely off of God’s love and not others. That was so hard in high school. I lived for the approval of others. He’s shown me how important it is to make Him the first priority in my life.”
His community at school has also continually pushed him and encouraged him to grow in intimacy with the Father. One night in particular, the group of friends enjoyed a hayride and sang worship songs throughout the entire ride. They eventually found themselves on a front porch singing worship songs at 1 o’clock in the morning.
“It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. We bundled up because it was 30-40 degrees outside and sang all kinds of worship songs. I thought, ‘Man! How awesome is it that we have a God we can talk to everyday like this?’ It was the most refreshing thing in the world for me.”
Caleb requested the song “The Blessing” and instantly remembered the faith of his friends at PV.
“That song has been impactful for me since Kiley Daniels sang it before her [brain] surgery. I’ve been able to run to the Lord through the examples of others.”
Remembering friends from home and being surrounded by new friends, all who are faithfully walking with the Lord and sharing their hope with others, was powerful for Caleb in that moment.
“It is so cool to see how we push each other towards the Lord and just a testament of how important community can be. We’re all vulnerable with one another and that’s an important part of community.”
While Caleb continues to grow, he can still find himself struggling with bitterness and insecurities when the enemy tells him that he needs to pursue something besides God. When that happens, he goes back to the basics, meditating on John 3:16, spending time with the Lord, and listening to worship music.
“His approval and His love is all that I need, no matter what route my mind goes. My mind has been very detrimental to me at times. When I go to that state, I reevaluate what’s going on and remember that it doesn’t matter what people think of me. Whatever the enemy is telling me right now is not true.”
Recently, Caleb was able to give a mini-sermon as his college church continues to meet in people’s homes. He chose to talk about how important God’s love is.
“God’s love isn’t just what He’s saying He’s going to do. It is what He did.”
Some of Caleb’s most transformative moments have come from his first year in college.
“I’ve been able to feel the true love of Christ because I’ve been surrounded by people who have pushed me towards it. For the first time in my life I don’t feel ashamed to speak what’s on my mind with the Lord. I’ve been able to feel the love of the Lord and that’s changed so many aspects of my life.
With this newfound freedom in knowing that he’s got the love of Jesus no matter what, Caleb confidently states: “Jesus is my security.”