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He was ’empty’ until ‘I opened my heart’

SILVER SPRING, Md. (BP)–Samuel Rozolem was a teenager when he came to America with his family from Brazil. His grandfather was a pastor and he was a nominally religious churchgoer when, in 1998, he turned his life over to God.

“There was nothing dramatic going on in my life. I had a good job; I was financially independent; I had my own business,” he recounted.

“But everything was empty. In August 1998 I came to a point where I told God, ‘If You have something for me, if You really have a plan for my life, You’re going to have to do it because I’ve tried and I can’t figure it out.’

“I opened my heart that day for Jesus Christ to be Lord of my life, and from that point, new life began inside of me,” said Rozolem, who now pastors the multi-national Nations United Baptist Church in Silver Spring, Md. “Things started moving so fast in my life. There was a new hunger for the Word of God. There was a desire to be involved in the things of God”

A month after he gave his life to the Lord, Rozolem started studying at a nearby Bible college. Years later, he studied at an extension center of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“I was really on fire for the Lord,” Rozolem said. “I told my pastor, ‘I want my life to count. Whatever needs to be done, whatever the Lord needs someone to do, I want to be that someone.'”

The pastor asked him to welcome people as they entered the church.

“‘Is there anything else?’ I asked my pastor. I told him, ‘I can clean the bathrooms, anything like that,'” Rozolem continued. The pastor gave him another assignment, but in time, Rozolem worked in every area of the church. He taught Sunday School; he led the youth and young adults; he became a deacon.

It wasn’t until he was assigned to lead worship, however, that he learned to depend on God.

“I was very self-confident and the Lord said, ‘I am going to put you in a place where you are going to learn to depend on Me,’ and that’s what happened,” Rozolem said. “I cannot play one single note. I had to pray hard for God to send musicians to play. For that whole period — I was in that position for about a year or two — there was not a single service that we didn’t have instruments playing.”

Learning to depend on God was a pivotal turning point. Rozolem said the more he depended on God, the more God did. He was ordained in 2005 and soon thereafter became the temporary senior pastor when Jerry DeOliveira, who had founded the church 10 years earlier, “tested the waters” for ministry to street children in Brazil. When DeOliveria resigned a year later to stay in Brazil with Koinonia Minstry, Rozolem was called as pastor.
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal for churches in the Louisiana Baptist Convention.