It was a tender moment for the Rev. Jeremy Henderson.
At the time, he was a pastor at Fourth Plain Church of the Nazarene in Vancover, Wash. The church had adopted a school and were lunch and reading buddies for kids with some difficult home environments.
During a school event where the church was serving food, a student’s father thanked Henderson for the investment he and the church made in his daughter. His daughter echoed that sentiment.
“I went to your VBS (Vacation Bible School),” she said. “Thank you for introducing me to Jesus.”
Now in Fremont, Henderson plans to make more introductions — this time in his new role.
Henderson became lead pastor of Fremont Nazarene Church in July.
He enjoys his new congregation.
“They sincerely desire to impact their community and to model Jesus and his character and to offer the hope we have in him to the community,” he said.
Henderson cites a recent example, which occurred before he arrived, of the church housing flood victims last spring and allowing the Operation Blessing ministry to operate out of the church parking lot.
“The church has a long history of making a difference for the good in the community of Fremont — and that’s what I love about them,” he said.
Henderson and his wife, Zandra, have four children, Brennan, 17, Hannah, 16, Samuel, 10, and Micah, 8, and a dog, Benji.
The new local pastor has served several congregations.
“I feel like Johnny Cash in some ways, because ‘I’ve been everywhere, man,’” he said referencing the late country singer.
Henderson compares his experience to military deployments, where soldiers go where they’ve been assigned to serve.
“I’ve been able to minister to people across the country and it’s been very fulfilling and exciting,” he said.
A graduate of Aurora High School in Missouri, Henderson has been in full-time ministry since 1998. He earned his undergraduate degree at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, in 2000.
His ministry has included serving as worship pastor at Auburn, Wash., and later Hillsboro, Ore.
He then sensed God’s call for him to preach.
“I was ordained an elder in the Church of the Nazarene on my birthday, May 13, 2005. That was a great birthday,” he said.
Henderson pursued a master’s degree online, graduating from Northwest Nazarene University in 2011. After Hillsboro, he’d called to serve a church of 20 people in Tualatin, Ore.
He’d later join his in-laws, the Rev. Grady and Carolee Zickefoose, in planting the Church of the Nazarene in Wake Forest, N.C. He worked at the church and as a teacher’s assistant in an elementary school’s special needs class.
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Next, he was called to be associate pastor at First Church of the Nazarene in Raleigh, N.C., where average Sunday attendance was 540. He led small groups and classes.
He also directed a group that sang Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir-style of music and made a couple of CDs. He’d gather a group of about 50 for a concert and preach at Butner Federal Prison Camp, twice a year. The group ministered at The Raleigh Rescue Mission homeless shelter, too.
Henderson believes God used these experiences to fan into flame a call to return to a lead pastor position, preaching on a more regular basis.
In 2013, he accepted the lead pastorate at Springfield Community Church of the Nazarene.
“We saw God move in some really cool ways,” he said.
When he arrived, the church had about 100 people, a building that needed work and a debt load of $750,000.
“We didn’t have much hope except to go to prayer,” he said. “And then basically what happened — God brought a real estate agent to us out of the blue.”
The agent represented another congregation interested in buying the facility – which sold for $1.2 million and got Henderson’s church out of debt.
Henderson’s church partnered with another Nazarene congregation in town.
Both churches were replanted as one congregation called One Life Church of the Nazarene – which had a new sense of vision and strategy for impacting the community.
“We stayed through December of 2015,” said Henderson, whose official title was teaching and connections pastor.
The other minister of One Life would accept a call to serve an Oregon church. Henderson was called to be lead pastor at Fourth Plain Church of the Nazarene in Vancover, and his ministry there began in 2016.
While in Vancouver, Henderson met the little girl who was grateful for having been introduced to Jesus. It’s become a cherished memory.
One of the best parts of ministry, Henderson said, is helping people discover a relationship with Jesus.
He meets many people, searching for significance, meaning, identity and purpose.
“And they’re looking for it in all the wrong places, in places that cannot satisfy,” Henderson said. “One of the best parts of ministry is helping people to discover that everything they ever longed for can be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Besides introducing people to Jesus, Henderson treasures opportunities to help believers grow in their relationship with Christ.
Henderson said although he’s never intended to stay only a year or two in a church, he’s always been open to where the Lord has wanted him to be.
“I’ve always said that I would not stay one day longer than what the Lord asked me to, nor would I leave one day sooner. At the end of the day, I am at his calling,” Henderson said.
Henderson appreciates his experiences, which he calls an adventure, and hopes stay put for quite a while.
“My sincere hope is that I’m here in Fremont for a very long time,” he said. “My family and I already have come to enjoy the community of Fremont very, very much.”