- Faith & Family
At first glance, Reverend Steven Caldwell’s resume appears as if it could belong to two different men. One list of accomplishments would describe a Chicago-born son, whose intelligence and athleticism allowed him to go to college on a baseball scholarship — the first in his family to graduate from high school. He would would earn a degree from Florida Memorial University and join a prestigious Back fraternity. However, his alternate resume would describe a young man who was frequently chastised for fighting, who later went on to do marijuana and cocaine, sell drugs and even join a ring of credit cards thieves.
But the married 45-year old Caldwell realizes that the two men are one in the same.
“God had his hand on my life as a child and the devil has been trying to destroy my life ever since,” he said.
Once he managed to get away from Chicago, which has more than its share of gang life, street violence and community neglect, Caldwell was determined never to return. This was a decision that left him homeless in Miami Gardens at one point.
But, “going back to Chicago was like returning to Vietnam, if I went back I knew I wouldn’t last long,” he explained. “And I’m the first and only success story among my siblings, so I had to stay here.”
Caldwell managed to stay but continued his dangerous involvement with various criminal ventures. He knew his lifestyle was wrong but it wasn’t until several years later that he “received an epiphany that he had to go to church.”
The challenge of putting faith into action
Seeking help from religion was not a foreign concept to Caldwell since, during his youth, his mother constantly had him attend church with her.
“I understood religion,” said Caldwell, whose mother was a choir director, “but I didn’t understand my relationship with God.”
Regardless of his misgivings, Caldwell did understand that his own way was not working for him. And on one fateful night in March 1991, when a group of his friends were robbed and had their car stolen, he says he gave his life to Christ. A voice had told him not to get into the car.
“It was right then that I went home and I prayed to God,” he recalled. “I cried out to God for about four hours and that day on March 18th, 1991, God delivered me from all of my addictions.”
In 1995, he was called into ministry at New Way Fellowship Baptist Church. He would go on to serve in other ministries before being installed as the senior pastor of New Providence Missionary Baptist Church on October 2, 2011. With more than 350 active members, the church supports the traditional Women and Men’s Ministry and also launched a Children’s, Young Adult and Couple’s Ministry.
“We are an eclectic mix of young and old members,” Caldwell described. “We have to be able to provide activities that will appeal to all generations.”
On many Sundays, the minister can be found behind the pulpit preaching a message of hope to everyone in the pews.
“I allow my sermons to take you to Jesus,” Caldwell said.
By Kaila Heard