Youth minister impacts children through Jesus

Published 6:59 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Joey Craft spends each day pouring love into children’s lives, just like his minister once did for him.

“I think I have the greatest job in the world,” Craft said.

Craft, the youth minister at Haw Branch Church of Christ in Chocowinity, has been leading children at the church since May of 2016. He is responsible for teaching first through 12th-graders and works hard to show them the love of Christ in a world that he sometimes feels is against the love of Christ, Craft said.

His goal of becoming a youth minister can be traced back to his days in church as a teenager himself. Originally from Plymouth, he spent a lot of time in his childhood church, the Plymouth Church of Christ. He said he latched onto the preacher — who had been serving for 35 years — and described him as a “father figure.”

“He poured into me. We spent a lot of time together hunting, doing yard work and making visits to the hospital. Through that, he just poured into me. He challenged me to think about ministry,” Craft said.

Craft is a graduate of Mid-Atlantic Christian University, and immediately got plugged into Haw Branch Church of Christ after graduation. He said he was ready to fill a need.

“My goal was to go somewhere I was needed, and the thing that stood out the most about Haw Branch, there was a need for someone to come in and work hard,” Craft said.

Craft’s ministry begins on Sundays following two songs of worship with the church and a “Hug and Howdy” activity — a welcoming activity where first through fifth graders greet the members of the church — then they exit to the gymnasium where they worship, play games and participate in activities to learn about Jesus. He also hosts a small Sunday night group with the children and a big Wednesday night group with middle and high schoolers.

He said in the year and half he’s been serving at Haw Branch Church of Christ, one word always comes to mind: fulfillment.

“To see those kids grow and witness what they are going to do, you put in time and hard work to be an example and a mentor to them, and when they get it, when a light bulb comes on, it is fulfilling,” Craft said.

Craft spent two summers working at Roanoke Christian Camp in Washington, and said he was no stranger to Beaufort County when he decided to take the position at Haw Branch. He said the church was warm and welcoming from his very first day, and they are committed to sharing Jesus.

“They are all sold out for the mission of going in and reaching the lost. They are a very loving congregation. They are very authentic. It feels like home,” Craft said.