Dearborn, Michigan, is known as the hometown of Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company and has been named a Tree City USA for its tree-infused quality of life for the past 30 years. But this city is perhaps better known as the North American Islamic headquarters. With approximately 14 mosques and institutions within 24.50 sq. miles, the Islamic community continues to increase. Often when a local church closes its doors, the abandoned building is transformed into a new mosque or Islamic institute.
But in September 2021, Pastor Josh Levesque and his family opened the doors of Dearborn Baptist Church for its first services and have been averaging 50 people each week. This spring, Josh (Pastoral Ministries ’15) and Katti (Elementary Education ’14) Levesque and their three children transplanted 93 miles from Corunna to Dearborn, MI, to plant a new church. As he and his family followed the Lord’s calling in his life, Josh attributes a portion of his preparation to his time at Pensacola Christian College.
“I was saved at age 7 and surrendered to ministry at age 12,” Josh said. “I have always wanted to serve God and be in ministry but did not know what that would look like. I chose PCC at first because of the great variety of programs available.” He enrolled preparing to study computer information systems with a Bible minor.
“It was through the regular preaching at PCC, involvement in Christian Service, and companionship of other ministerial students that God changed my priorities and my major to pastoral ministry,” Josh explained. The burden to pursue preaching began during a commencement service while listening to ministerial students share their messages for the annual sermon contest.
“So much of my time at PCC equipped me for ministry service,” Josh said. From a Christian Service leader, collegian chaplain, Sunday School director, and residence assistant—Josh received a wealth of training and experiences at PCC. “Apart from the academic instruction, I was greatly helped by the leadership and service opportunities in college. Each of these positions prepared me for different aspects of pastoral ministry and now for church planting,” he said.
The ministerial classes and church planting seminars Levesque took planted seeds that led to this new church plant in Dearborn. Throughout the semester, Josh and the ministerial students analyzed the biblical and historical models of starting a new church. And experienced church planters visited the class to speak on the ‘how-tos’ as well as identifying parts of the country where the needs are great.
After his college graduation, Josh served as the assistant pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Corunna, MI. Then during a prayer meeting at the Michigan Revival Conference in 2019, the Lord burdened Josh’s heart to consider planting a church specifically in Dearborn, Michigan. “After a number of visits to the city and much prayer and research, the Lord confirmed the need and increased my burden to see a new church planted in this important city of my home state.”
As a new church planter, each day for Levesque includes sermon preparation and service planning, follow-up with new contacts, website and social media management and graphic design—and home renovation projects since they moved. “We are still traveling on deputation for the next few months,” Josh said. “So, we are often on the road during the week as well.”
Josh loves the pioneering aspect of church planting. “There is ministerial entrepreneurship in most church planters that is the desire to go to new places and start new works,” he said. “Church planting is an opportunity to be involved in the creation of something that has the potential to outlive you and reach more people than you ever could alone.”
Church planting, Josh would admit, is a challenging ministry. “It is the tilling of new soil that often has not been worked for some time,” he said. “There are the obstacles of finding facilities, being a portable church, getting noticed as a small church in a big city, and facing cultural giants such as the prevalence of Islam in our city.”
But since their first services, the Levesques have been encouraged by the families in attendance. “Many of them had lost their local church in Dearborn many years ago and are excited to once again have a Baptist church in the city,” said Josh. “We have made many new friends in the community.” He and his family are excited to wrap up their deputation travels this fall and focus full time on their congregation in Dearborn.
Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.