My name is Landon DeCrastos. I was raised in a Christian home and church was something we participated in multiple times every week. I remember being at church every time the doors were open, because that is the way I was brought up. When I was young, church was never anything I questioned…it was just what we did. As far as spiritual matters went…I never really thought about it. God was real to me, but He was some distant bible character that the adults talked about. I thought, as long as I was good…then that should be enough. It sounded great, and I was doing pretty well with that…It seemed to work to an extent. I didn’t do anything that would get me in trouble…so therefore my spiritual obligations were met.
When I became a teen, I attended youth group and through the messages I heard, God began to do something in my heart that I couldn’t explain. As teens we went on a lot of retreats and trips. When I was 13, we went to a retreat not too far away and God spoke to me. The place we went was called “Wandering Wheels” conference center. The conference center was created by a ministry called “Wandering Wheels” that traveled around the United States in groups on bicycle…somewhat like a traveling youth camp. The bike rides would sometimes go coast to coast and great spiritual awakenings would happen. This conference center was built as a place to commemorate these trips. Cities that the ministry had gone that were especially memorable were honored through carvings on the walls. This retreat gave me an opportunity to settle down and listen to God in a special way.
The services were inspirational and the theme of the weekend emphasized the fact that God doesn’t want anyone to be left behind when Jesus comes back. It was a basic message, but profound. During one of the services I surrendered my life and future to God…not knowing what that really meant. I asked for forgiveness of my sins, and asked God to cleanse me and guide my way. Still…I did not know what that implied.
Later that year, my youth group went on a mission trip to Southern Illinois. As a part of this trip, we went on an excursion to St. Louis. Our youth pastor took us to the St. Louis arch and asked us to sit down on the steps and have quiet time with God. As I sat there, I began to pray and, because of my tendency to be distracted, I observed the people around me. There were people there who were visibly drunk, who were doing drugs, and couples who were all over each other. I also saw a girl crying and alone, and heard the foul language of those around. In that environment, God gave me a passion for all of them. He gave me a vision that involved guiding people to abundant life…leading them to Jesus. That day He called me to ministry.
Years later, I was in the early stages of my pursuit of being a pastor. I was asked to speak at a youth retreat for several services. The retreat was at a place that I was familiar with…..Wandering Wheels conference center. In one of the services, as I was sharing my testimony, I explained to them how I was saved at this very place. In fact…I even remembered where I was sitting… I pointed to the place I sat and realized that the area I was sitting when I was saved was under the carving of the St. Louis Arch. It was a humbling feeling, and happened to come at a time in which I was questioning my call to ministry.
God has given me such a passion for those that are lost. This drives what I do here…and God has…in so many times affirmed my call to ministry. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can still see those broken people sitting on the steps of the arch. Each one has a face…and each face tells a story.
God has blessed me with a beautiful wife, Kara, and amazing children Josiah and Lynae. He has also blessed me with a wonderful church and leading this congregation is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. I am living the dream!
Life verse: Ephesians 2:10 NIV
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”