Greater St. Paul welcomes Pastor Elijah Shafah

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 29, 2009

Elijah Shafah had a dream of becoming a big time attorney. God had other plans.

In time, Shafah realized that God’s plan for his life was much better than the one he had chosen.

“Everything that I wanted to do was either met with stumbling blocks or failure. But, when I started on the path God had chosen for me, things just fell into place, said Shafah who is the newly appointed minister at Greater St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Troy.

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Shafah had grown up in the A.M.E. church. His dad was a pastor and a great influence in his life. At age 15, Shafah preached his trial sermon and formally entered the ministry at age 18.

“By that time, I had gotten a taste of college, girls and a life of being free,” Shafah said, with a smile. “So, there was some doubt as to what I wanted to do with my life. I was at Georgia State and majoring in psychology and English with plans to go to law school. But God’s call had long been there and I have a true passion for people so it became clearly evident that the ministry was what I wanted to do.”

Shafah attended the Interdenominational Theological Center, which is a liberal university and received a master of divinity at the Center’s Turner Theological Seminary in his native Atlanta and began work on his doctoral degree.

Before coming to Greater St. Paul A.M.E. Church, Shafah served three appointments in Cairo, Sharpsburg and Atlanta, totally eight years.

“When the opportunity to come to Greater St. Paul was presented to me, I realized that it would be a good fit for me – a good marriage with the church,” Shafah said. “I knew it would be worth the change.”

St. Paul is the largest church that Shafah has served but already he feels right at home.

“I feel that I am prepared and equipped to properly deliver the word,” he said. “When I’m in the pulpit I want to make the message relevant for all.

“I want to be a great preacher and I think that preaching is my strength. God has gifted me with the ability to ‘say it.’ I’m normally real laid back but, when I get in the pulpit, I’m transformed. I’m excited to declare God’s goodness and His grace.”

As much as preaching is a part of Shafah’s ministry, his real ministry begins when he leaves the pulpit.

“I want to be a preacher and a pastor,” Shafah said.

“I want to serve the Greater St. Paul congregation and the community in all areas. I want to be ‘on’ all the time so I want to grow in the areas where I’m weak.”

Shafah’s ministry is a holistic one that will meet the needs of the congregation, the sick and shut-ins and those in prisons, nursing homes and hospitals.

“Visitation is an integral part of my ministry and I’m serious about those commitments,” he said.

“There is more to a ministry than preaching. Much of my work is after I leave the pulpit.”

Shafah knows that he is where he needs to be because God has called him to this place. At age 30, he has a lifetime of ministry before him.

“I’m young and I’m blessed,” he said. “God has made the way for me.”