Three Questions: Pastor Charles Stevens, Jr.

Three Questions is a semi-regular series introducing individuals across the NAB by asking them about their story, their ministry, and what they are learning. This week, we hear from Charles Stevens, Jr., the pastor of Transformation Church in Sacramento, California.

What’s your story?

My name is Charles Stevens, Jr. I serve as the senior pastor of Transformation Church in Sacramento, California. I was born in Denver, Colorado, and resided there until the age of about 7- or 8-years-old, and I then moved to Sacramento with my dad and my younger brother. I always say that I’m Colorado bred, but I’m California fed!

I’ve been married to the love of my life, Haneeseah, for sixteen years. We have two incredible children: Zion, who is 15, and Aniah, who is 14.

Growing up, I didn’t have the easiest life and was hit early on with a variety of difficult moments, ranging from medical issues due to seizures, to having an absent mother, to having my dad use drugs, which also resulted and led to more hard-to-swallow moments. Although these moments were difficult at the time, I’m thankful because God gave three things:

  1. A love and passion for basketball that allowed me an escape.
  2. Healing, as God demonstrated his love and power to me at the age of 12 when the elders of the church prayed over me regarding my sickness, and I received immediate healing.
  3. A conversation my dad had with my brother and me when he told us, “Sons, I will fail you as your earthy father, but our heavenly Father will never fail you.” Despite my dad’s personal challenges, he made sure we knew of God’s constant and unchanging love.

It was through that introduction from my dad to my heavenly Father that I’ve grown from a curious kid trying to find his place in the world who found his escape and love in basketball, to becoming an eager servant of God.

What’s ministry like for you (what is your ministry context)?

When I was about 12, I had an incredibly vivid dream where I was in heaven and God sent me on a mission to go to this dark place. I later found out that the dark place was hell. I was sent on mission to pull people out of a pit and lead them toward heaven, where they would get fulfillment, safety, and the love they always desired. I’m often reminded about that dream, and now that I’m older, I see it more as a vision of what I’m called to do, what our ministry is called to do, and, more importantly, what the body of Christ is called to.

Our church mission is in the name of our church: Transformation. We believe God has placed us here in the city to be transformative to both the believer and the non-believer in such a way that changes us, challenges us, and commits to one another. It is my belief that one of the greatest gifts Christ has given us that is often overlooked is each other, Christian community. Through Christian community, lives are changed, bonds are made, and impact is created.

Our ministry is deeply intentional about fostering relationships within our community, and we believe we should walk out this journey of life together, ensuring we tell as many people as possible about the good news of Jesus Christ.

What are you learning (how are you being challenged in ministry)?

I believe there are always challenges in ministry, and one of the biggest lessons God has shown me recently is that there is purpose in pain. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul writes to the church of Corinth about one of the biggest, most foundational, and probably one of the most vital lessons he learned throughout his journey as a believer: that there is purpose in pain. After Paul pleaded with Jesus to remove some pain, Jesus replied to him, “My grace is sufficient.” Paul learned that his situation didn’t need to change, his perspective did. He learned that although his pain was big, his God was bigger.

Since the challenges of the pandemic, I believe God has had me on that same journey. I’m becoming more comfortable about who I am, who God made me, and who God is perfecting me to be.