Eight Years Old and Spreading the Word

Ezra Jean-Baptiste gave his first sermon when he was six. It would be the first of many.

Nate Miller, for Lake Union Herald
Eight Years Old and Spreading the Word
Ezra Jean-Baptiste preached his first sermon at six years old at Pioneer Memorial Church in Michigan and has continued to preach across the U.S. [Photo: Sandra Mendez]

There’s an energy at work in Ezra Jean-Baptiste. He has a distinct conviction, a profound sense of godliness.

That much is abundantly clear to any of the thousands of people who have watched the eight-year-old preach. He means what he says. 

Ezra gave his first sermon when he was six at an Adventurers event for Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States, where he and his family are members. Since then, he has given many sermons across the United States, including at the convention for the 100-year-anniversary of Master Guides in Colorado. 

His brand of Christianity isn’t especially prevalent within our faith. Ezra says what he needs to say — what he’s been called to say — and nothing more. He isn’t extraneous; each word he speaks has a poignant weight to it. When I spoke with him, I found the same fundamental bluntness, the same strong, no-nonsense, and practical conviction that underlies each of his sermons. 

“God gave me the talent to preach,” said the third grader at Ruth Murdoch Elementary School when asked about his call to ministry. “God saw through me and saw that, in the future, I would share the word with many people and let them know about God’s love for every one of us.”

To Ezra, it’s that simple: God gave him a talent, so he uses it. No questions asked, because he has no questions about God’s supreme intellect. All he wants to do, all he can do, is follow God’s calling for his life, share His love with everyone, and remind us of the innocence and unquestioning drive of a child. 

Jesus encouraged us to emulate children the likes of Ezra, but who does he seek to emulate? “My mom,” he told me. Why? “Because she works for God.” 

Ezra has already been across the United States spreading the message of God’s love. He isn’t fearless about that calling — he openly acknowledged that he gets nervous preaching in front of large crowds. But, as he told me, “God helps me go through it.” Because, as Ezra knows, anyone who fully commits to God’s calling for their lives will not — cannot — be stopped. “Whenever you feel like Satan is bringing you down,” he said, “just remember that God is always with you, and He will fight through it with you every single second of your life.” 

While Ezra enjoys preaching, he also takes time to enjoy reading, telling riddles and jokes, and building with Lego® blocks. His parents want to make sure he can still be a kid, but at the same time they are making room for the extraordinary way God is working in their son’s life. 

“We are in amazement of how God is using Ezra,” his father said. “It is a verification that God can use anyone, at any age, in any circumstance. We hope and pray that Ezra’s ministry shows that to many others.” 

The original version of this story was posted by the Lake Union Herald.

Nate Miller, for Lake Union Herald