Local pastor: I’m right where ‘God wanted us’

Published 10:55 pm Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dwayne Norman has known since he was eight years old that he wanted to be a preacher.

“My third-grade teacher asked us to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up and I said I wanted to be a preacher,” said Norman, minister of Bush Memorial Baptist Church. “I wrote that I would like to be a preacher because I would tell people about Jesus and it would help me learn more about Jesus, too.”

However, it was not until Norman was 16 years old that he surrendered to the ministry.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I knew that the Lord had been dealing with me and I was leaning toward the ministry, but needed for that to be confirmed,” Norman said. “We had an interim minister at my home church [Mobile County], who was an older man who worked mainly with the senior adults. But, he must have sensed in me, or observed God dealing with me. One day, he asked me when I was going to take the next step and surrender to full-time vocational ministry. That was an audible voice from God and confirmed what God was doing in my life.”

At that early age, Norman surrendered to the ministry.

“I didn’t know exactly what God was calling me to do,” he said. “I didn’t know if it was preaching, youth ministry, hospital visits, just what. But, whatever the calling was, I was ready to surrender.”

Knowing for sure that God had called him to the ministry, Norman went forward in church and made that commitment public.

“On that Sunday, when I went forward, my dad also went forward,” Norman said. “I knew that God had been dealing with my dad about the ministry, too, but I didn’t know that he was going forward on that Sunday. For both of us to surrender to the ministry at the same time was special for both of us. Kind of a father/son thing.”

Norman’s dad’s involvement leaned more toward the education side of the church.

“My dad’s commitment was to teaching and behind the scenes things that are so important,” Norman said. “My dad is a lay leader at our home church. As for my commitment, I kept coming back to being a pastor and a preacher.”

Norman attended the University of Mobile and seminary at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. where he majored in religion and minored in business.

His first church was in Poplarville, Miss. He then pastored a church in Jasper before answering the call to come to Bush Memorial.

“We were very happy in Jasper and not looking to move,” Norman said. “I’m not sure how the Bush Memorial search committee knew about us but they asked for my resume.

“My wife and I wanted to be where God wanted us to be. We wanted to be obedient to God. We prayed and God showed us his will for us.”

Norman and his wife, Mandy, immediately fell in love with Troy.

“Bush Memorial has a good mixture of various ages and that was exciting,” he said. “We like to minister to all ages. We were excited about being in a college town and also about the large number of international students at the university.

“At seminary, I had taken an intro to missions class and came home convicted that God was leading me to the mission fields overseas. But, that was not where God called us and I came to realize the importance of local missions. Here at Bush Memorial, we have a large number of international students so we have the opportunity for local missions with a worldwide heart through our international students. Troy is not a huge city but we have the opportunity to touch the world. We are not living in Africa or Japan, but our ministry can be the best of both worlds.”

Norman said the dynamics of Bush Memorial – the different age groups, the university students and international students – bring many opportunities and challenges to his ministry.

“I know that God wants me to pastor,” he said. “I know that He wants us to get outside these four walls and learn about our community and love the people that make it up. We’re in the Bible belt but many people don’t go to church. We want them to know that they are welcome at Bush Memorial. We want to reach out in love to our community.”

Bush Memorial has a program called Reach Troy, which is designed to bring the church to the people.

On a recent Saturday, about 50 members of the church visited about 200 homes and gave out cookies, books and Bibles.

“Members of the church baked cookies and we went door-to-door to let people know about our ministry and that they are welcome at Bush Memorial,” Norman said. “We’ll be doing more of that kind of thing with prayer walks and sports camps. We want to ‘Reach Troy’ and then, eventually, branch out with mission trips around the country and, perhaps, on foreign fields.”

Norman and his wife have four children, Maddie, 10; Bradley, 7; and twins, Lindsey and Natalie, 3.