Each week, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we’re thrilled to introduce Natasha Nedrick.
Natasha, who has inspired you along the way in this ministry journey?
When I first sensed my call to ministry in 2011, I thought I would serve in a university teaching seminary and religion students. My bachelor’s degree was in economics so I had no clue what my next step should be. I reached out to a minister at my home church who taught religion classes at a local college. He politely listened to me talk about my sense of calling and then proceeded to strongly urge me not to peruse Ph.D. studies because there were barely any full-time positions for the vast number of students that completed Ph.D.s. Practically speaking, I would likely end up with a low-paying adjunct job. I was completely discouraged but kept smiling to be polite.
As I walked away, I heard someone quietly calling my name. It was Rev. Cleve Tinsley who was the minister of Christian education. I walked in his office, and he told me to shut the door. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “I overheard the conversation. Ignore everything he just said. If you feel called, nothing else matters.” Cleve was the first person to affirm my calling. He quickly pushed me to look into seminaries and introduced me to young ministers who were serving at our church. If he hadn’t called me into his office, it’s very likely I would still be working in corporate America.
Tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
Shortly after sensing my call to ministry, I spoke with my pastor, Ralph Douglas West Sr., to get some advice. The conversation was brief. He said, “I know you. You need to go to Truett.” I took his advice and moved to Waco, Texas. While in seminary I quickly joined Greater New Light Missionary Baptist Church. The congregation was warm, the praise team was awesome, and Pastor C. J. Oliver was a great servant leader with a wealth of experiences. I knew I could learn from him. After a couple of short months, I was tasked with starting small groups. After successfully launching M.O.R.E Small Groups, I was promoted to director of Christian education. In 2016, Pastor Samuel J. Doyle licensed me to preach.
Simultaneously, I began working for the Family Abuse Center as a Community Educator with a focus on African American congregations. My proudest moment was organizing the Remembrance Day Service. Every year FAC remembered victims who died from domestic violence in McLennan County, but we never reached out to their families to tell them about the service. Thanks to online newspaper articles and Facebook, I reached a young lady who lost her mother earlier that year. She drove up from Houston, to attend a fifteen-minute service that honored her mother’s life. I’ve never seen anyone so grateful to know her mother wasn’t forgotten.
For the past five years, I have served on the board of EES Ministries, a ministry dedicated to addressing delicate and sensitive issues that women and families face. I have also had the opportunity to intern at two thriving mega-churches. The first at my home church, The Church Without Walls in Houston, where I served in the Christian education ministry. The second was the House of Hope Atlanta, where I created training processes for the minister of hope. After graduation, I served on the pastoral staff at One Fellowship United Methodist Church until I was offered my current position at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as the executive assistant / project specialist for Global Missions. I am very grateful to work in my first full-time ministry job in Global Missions where we cultivate Beloved Community, bear witness to Jesus and seek transformational development. After a much longer church discernment process than last time, I have recently become a member of Greenforest Community Baptist Church.
What have been your greatest sources of challenge in ministry?
By nature, I am a planner. I need order. I don’t go through life without a plan. However, I am not a preacher’s kid. There were no ministers in my family. The truth is that I had no clue how to navigate myself in ministry. I defaulted on the one thing my parents drilled in my head, “you need an education.” I started Truett a year after being called to ministry and the questions soon started. “Do you preach?” “No.” “Are you a dual Social Work student?” “No.” “Then why are you in here?” What I was thinking in my head, “Because I feel called to ministry.” However, I knew that wouldn’t shut people up so I always added, “I think I want to get a Ph.D. in New Testament and teach at a seminary, but I also want to work in the church vocationally.” It seemed no one in the church really understood my calling, and it didn’t help that it often felt like it was shifting.
By the time I left Truett, I knew I was a preacher and teacher who has a heart for people who are hurting, but I didn’t always know that. I think it might have been easier if God gave me a burning bush experience to explain the totality of my calling in one moment, but instead, my calling came and still comes piecemeal. The greatest challenge in ministry has been to accept this and ultimately accept that everybody doesn’t have to understand, agree or affirm God’s calling on my life.
What are things you wish you would have known at the beginning of your journey?
Don’t allow titles to define the totality of your ministry. After being in ministry a while I have met a lot of pastors and ministers who are simply burnt out and miserable. Work-life balance is hard enough in our culture, but especially hard in ministry. I have seen ministers who get so caught up in their day-to-day responsibilities that they lose sight of God while doing God’s work. It’s so easy to fall into that trap, especially being a single minister, so here’s my advice. Set boundaries. Schedule time to hang out with friends. Go to the doctor. Turn off your phone, watch your favorite TV show, and don’t you dare feel guilty about it. Your spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental health is important. If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.