Share:

Home > For NAD Pastors > Articles >
.
Abraham Jules Interview
.
Watch video interviews at the end of this article.

I'm a fourth generation Seventh-day Adventist. My great-grandmother came to Trinidad from India and it was there that she was converted to Adventism.
 
When I was about four years old, I felt the call to be a pastor. There was no great light that shone down from above and let me know I needed to be a preacher. I enjoyed everything about church life, and I just felt a conviction that God wanted me to do what the preachers were doing. From that day on, I never thought about being anything else—never wanted to be a policeman, a doctor, or a fireman, like other young boys—but a preacher.
 
When I was a teenager, we moved to New York City and my conviction was tested. On June 17, 1978, our church family travelled  to upstate New York— to enjoy worshiping outdoors on a beautiful summer Sabbath. When church was over, I joined other young people heading down to the lake. There was a canoe we could use, so I started giving my friends rides. After about 20 minutes, I left and went back up to where the other folk were relaxing. The young people continued to take rides on the lake in the canoe.
 
A bit later, I saw a young man running toward us and he was screaming, "They are drowning.” I ran down to the lake and a group of men followed behind me. We jumped into the water and were able to save three of young people, but there were three who had gone under and nothing could be done. They brought their bodies out. It was a time of panic and guilt. I felt extremely guilty! I felt responsible for the deaths of those young people. I thought if I had not invited them to go with me on the lake, those young people would still be alive. I was actively involved in church, even preaching sometimes and the young people respected me. I felt like they had gone out in the canoe because of my influence and I took real responsibility for it.
 
Back home in Brooklyn, New York, the gossip was—it was the Jules boy from Brooklyn Temple who killed those young people. When I went to church, I felt that eyes were on me—I felt people were talking about me. So I stopped going to church for an entire year. I wanted to be in church but felt too guilty to attend. I felt like God was disappointed in me—that He didn't want to have anything to do with me. I did not want to pray, to talk about church—didn’t think I’d ever go back to church. My life would now go in a different direction. Which direction, I did not know. But I praise God that He never left me. He kept prodding me along and certainly directed my heart and my mind.
 
My parents sensed the pain I was going through. I don't remember them saying much to me about the situation but they were loving and supportive. I think that's what I really needed at that time—their support.
 
One Sabbath I went across to a Junior High School playground. and I played handball. About four hours later, I walked off the court, saying to myself, “I shouldn't be out here. This is God's Sabbath day.” I couldn't take it any longer—God was convicting me.
 
I went back to church. I was surprised by the love and affirmation I received from the very people I viewed as the ones who were keeping me away from church. On that Sabbath, Pastor Milton Thomas made an appeal and I went down front. He picked me out of the group, and said, "We are so happy to see Brother Jules back in church." He was such an inspiration to me over the next couple months.
 
A few months before I returned to church, the mother of one of the young ladies who had died called the house and said to me,"I know what people are saying and I just want you to know, Brother Jules, you did not take the lives of these young people.” It was a brief conversation." I knew she was trying to encourage me to get back on track, to return to church, to be faithful to God.
 
That year, defined my life, and had a major impact on me. It could have destroyed me,or turned me in another direction, but it was that experience, that to this very day, keeps me grounded. I learned the fragility of life, and that has helped me to consecrate myself every day and be committed to Christ and His cause.
 
As I prepared to attend Oakwood College my pastor and church family gave me a wonderful farewell and that encouraged me in my path, in my journey to ministry. At Oakwood College, I heard a sermon by Dr. E.E. Cleveland. He talked about the call to ministry. He said, “We are called either through original conviction, or by direct confrontation.” I believe it was God's original call in my life. That conviction continues to help me in my life and ministry.
 
I have been pastoring now for almost three decades. To God be the glory. There have been challenges. There was one church where I wanted to ordain female elders. I've always believed that the church is better off when we have both genders represented in leadership. I made the recommendation to the nominating committee, and the elders went berserk. They didn't want female elders. They told me they had voted in a business meeting that they would never have female elders at this church. The church voted affirmative, but this little group decided to just rail against everything, and made life unhappy for me and for the church members. I was miserable—it was a dark point in my ministry. Lasted for about a year—that’s a long time to feel that way. It was a difficult time, but it taught me new and better ways to deal with conflict—to be tenacious, and to trust God.
 
In those dark moments, I reached out to my small circle of friends—my support system. I have friends in ministry who are wise men, praying men, spiritual men. They supported me through those times. They prayed with me, talked with me, and counseled me. That helped me a lot. I contend that your enemies make you a better person. People who are against you, they will cause you to be cautious and prayerful. Sometimes your friends will not bring that about in your life. Those difficult times drew me closer to God, not farther from Him.
 
I kept caring for those elders, doing everything I could to support them in their own lives. I maintained a godly, Christian relationship with them and those church elders finally accepted the female elders. The church grew. Hundreds of people joined the church, the church building was renovated. A lot of great things happened after that initial dark moment for me. It's one of our bright churches in New York City today.
 
I was a single pastor for 20 years—got married when I was 42. During those years the challenges of singleness were there. It showed up when I went before the ordination committee especially. They asked me questions—“Why was I not married?”—“How could I be an example to the married people in the congregation, connect with them, understand their situation and their circumstances?” The misperception was, if you're a single man, you're not able to do ministry effectively. Yet during those 20 years, God did some marvelous things. I was ordained. I pastored one of the largest churches in the conference. God was good. I prayed to be a man of principle and to have strength to live a single life above reproach. He kept me—He was faithful.
 
I was able to spend more time doing ministry when I was single, but if I were to do it all over again, I would have gotten married earlier, because it made me a more balanced person. I had someone to share with me the burdens of ministry and life. An intimate partner to go home to, when the pressures of life and the church came down on me. My wife made all the difference in the world for me!
 
An amazing thing has happened over the years. The very people who accused me for the drowning deaths, now attend my church. They'll look for me and want to visit. We don't talk about that tragedy of 30 years ago, but they're very affirming of me. The incident has just died its own death. It has kind of resolved itself. I think they have gotten it resolved in their minds, and I certainly don't dwell on it. I'm always happy when I see people from my past who were a part of that unpleasant moment, who are now pleasant.
 
My greatest joy in ministry is when I'm actively involved in public evangelism, and I experience people accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior and being baptized.
 
I've seen God open doors for me, I've seen Him resolve issues that I could not resolve. I have personally experienced the hand of God, and that's why I move into the future with a lot of confidence that what He's done before, He'll do it again. I've been sustained by the hand of God through all these years.
 
 
 
Abraham Jules - Short Interview
 
 

Abraham Jules - Full Interview