Preaching prodigy: an 11-year-old in the pulpit

(Photo: YouTube)
Minister Ezekiel Stoddard

Ezekiel Stoddard was just seven-years-old when he felt called by God to preach the Gospel.

Now aged 11, he is an ordained minister and preaches at the Fullness of Time Church in Capital Heights, Maryland.

He tells his story in a new episode from THNKR TV as part of its Prodigies series, on YouTube.

"I'm a servant for God," he says. "When I was about seven-years-old God spoke to me. He was saying, 'Son, I want you to do my will. I want you to preach the Gospel."

His mother, Pastor Adrienne Smith, says that even at the age of six, Ezekiel was already wanting to pray for the people.

She tells of her son's commitment to his calling. "He'll take a Bible, a Bible dictionary, a commentary, he will sit down and study and connect."

Ezekiel says that the sermon passage, title and content all come to him from God.

"Everything that God says, you just got to keep on writing, don't stop - until God takes a break," he laughs.

He may be young in years, but Ezekiel has the respect of local pastors who have decades of experience behind them.

Reverend Dr Helen Fleming, of Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church says she was most impressed by his knowledge of the word.

"He can speak on levels that the young can associate with as well as the old," she says.

Reverend Hercules Jones, of Christ Centered Missionary Baptist Church, says young Ezekiel is welcome to preach at his church any time.

"His witness, his testimony, is very inspiring," he said.

The senior pastor of Fullness of Time Church, Vasconcellas Smith, is also Ezekiel's stepfather.

He can understand why some people might be concerned that someone so young has entered ordained ministry.

"If I didn't know Ezekiel I would be sceptical," he says.

"I think it was (ABC's news programme) Nightline showed a list of young preachers that started out like this, even younger. They investigated and found that some of those children were being used by their parents to make money, so you understand the scepticism.

"So I had a long talk with Ezekiel and I said do not be offended if someone is sceptical. They have a right to be. Some people are just concerned."

Ezekiel has had some unwanted attention because of his calling, not from adults, but other children who he says have picked on him because of his beliefs.

"But it hasn't changed my mind about anything. As you can see I'm still preaching the word."

If anything, Ezekiel is just concerned that there are so many children missing God in their lives.

"I want every child to know who God is, I want every child to prosper.

"What I'm saying to everybody now, and especially the parents, is: you need to get your child involved in Christ."

Just as Jesus "never stood in one place", he has dreams of travelling all around the world preaching, even preaching to millions.

He says: "When I dream about it it's amazing because I wake up and I feel like I'm at that time right now. But then sometimes I realise, I'm still 11."

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