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Daniel Barta


I was raised in the home of an associate pastor of a small Independent Baptist church just west of Cleveland, OH. My whole life I have been in church and familiarized myself with the Scriptures. At the young age of five, I made a profession of faith. I remember being aware I had sinned, and out of fear of going to hell, I asked Jesus to forgive me. The church baptized me and affirmed I was saved. I lived out the status quo for pastors' kids for the next decade. I said and did the right things. In my mind and in the minds of all the older men and women, I was on my way to being the next Billy Graham.

By my early high school years, my positive view of church, religion, and God had increasingly become negative. The standards and guidelines I thought were just the normal way of life became burdensome and seemingly oppressive. I noticed that many in the church who even lived by rigorous standards seemed joyless and miserable while displaying a fake happiness. I decided that if Christianity was nothing more than miserable obedience to oppressive rules and standards, I wanted nothing to do with it.

In an attempt to get away from everything, I spent the summer before my senior year working with my brother-in-law in Florence, SC. God used this time to spark curiosity within my mind and heart by introducing me to a few men and women, including my sister and brother-in-law, who served God with joy. When I returned to Ohio for my senior year, I was committed to discovering the difference between the joyful and joyless Christian.

God led me to North Greenville University where I enrolled with intentions to transfer to Clemson University for engineering. However, God had a different course for my life. Sovereignly, God used two people to bring me back to NGU for a second year. The first was my wife, whom I met at freshman orientation, and the second was Mike Landrum, the head of the Youth Ministry program at NGU. God pursued me greatly, and through some painful events, God made clear to me that true joy was found only in Him.

God brought me to a place of surrender. I remember kneeling with a broken heart by the bed in my parents' home. That morning, I confessed that not only did I do bad things, but also that I myself was bad. My problem was not just that I had sinned, but I loved sin. God showed me that apart from Him I would continue to sin by seeking satisfaction and joy in things that cannot deliver what I needed. That day I asked God to take control of my life. He led me to turn from myself to seek Him as my source of joy.

From there God led me to join and serve at Forestville Baptist Church where I would remain for the next 11 years. Sensing God's direction to pursue some sort of ministry life, I became a Youth Ministry major simply because I respected Mike Landrum. At the end of my sophomore year, I accepted a paid internship at Forestville which turned into a part-time middle school ministry role that gave way to a full-time youth pastor role. My time at Forestville, which ended in March of 2019, was certainly a place of sanctification and transformation. The two greatest modifications God engineered in me are my new understanding and love for Him and His Word. My theology has little in common with the theology I possessed in 2008. He has and is continuing to restore in me a right knowledge of Himself which has increasingly led to a renewed mind and transformed lifestyle.

As I grow in knowing Him, I also grow in loving His Word, for it is in His Word I learn of Him and experience His presence. Both He and His Word continue to grow in prominence in my thoughts, desires, conversations, and conduct. He is my joy. He has compelled me to seek Him. By His grace, I have continuedto pursue Him. So far He has been faithful to reward me with Himself, and He has proven Himself worthy of my pursuit (Heb. 11:6).

I am grateful to God for His bringing me and my family to Christ Fellowship Northwest in 2019. The people of CFNW are not only church members I have the privilege to help shepherd, but I also know them as my friends and family. I thank God for allowing our family to serve this particular church and I hope and pray that He allows me to continue here for many more years.

Daniel Barta
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