Shining Lights: Gazetia Williams
Updated: Jan 31
I interviewed Gazetia Williams on July 25, 2022. He took time away from his remodeling project at the Livingway Community Church to tell me more about his walk with God. Gazetia is a carpenter by trade, following in the footsteps of Jesus Himself.
Mr. Williams is a Man of God. Is he a perfect man? No more perfect, or less perfect, than the rest of us. He is a “work in progress” and shows God’s progress in him every day.
The Early Years: Discovering Gifts and Talents
Gazetia told me he was raised in the Doyle community in Kerrville. He attended the segregated Doyle School through second grade before integration into the Kerrville public schools.
Gazetia remembered a time in second grade when he drew a bird that he saw on the wall in his classroom. His teacher caught him “not paying attention” and asked what he was writing. Gazetia says, “I turned my paper over and said ‘nothing!’...I was afraid she would take me to the office and get a paddling. That paddle was THAT LONG!”
His teacher turned over his paper and saw a beautiful bird, just like the one he saw on the classroom wall. His teacher exclaimed, “You drew that!?” She took Gazetia and his beautiful drawing to the office. To Gazetia’s surprise, he was praised for his artistic gifts and talents. No paddle in sight. Gazetia’s creative gifts would pay off later in life.
Throughout his school years, Gazetia excelled in sports. He played football and basketball and was a pole vaulter on the track team. He graduated from Tivy High School in 1978.
The Trouble Years: The Fall and Redemption
Like many young people, Gazetia got into drugs and served a five-year prison sentence in his early 20s. But, Gazetia says, “I did everything they told me to do in prison. I wanted to get out.”
While in prison, Gazetia attended an AA meeting. He says, “They told me that whatever I was doing in prison, that’s what I would be doing when he got out. So I decided not to start selling cigarettes and other things that could get me in trouble. What I did was make all kinds of cards…Christmas cards, birthday cards…all drawn on napkins. I cut file folders to make the envelopes for the cards. I made glue out of peppermint sticks and water. I got 25 cents a card.”
Sir Alfred Whitehead said, “Some measure of genius is the rightful inheritance of every person.” Gazetia was discovering some of his own genii. His artistic gifts and talents could be helpful in prison and out.
Not only did Gazetia find his God-given talents useful in prison, but he also found God in the process (or maybe God found him). Gazetia said, “My mind was clear…I could hear God.” As a result, he started attending church and continued to do so after his release from prison.
The Reintegration Years: Off The Bench Doing God’s Work
Gazetia has been out of prison for more than 35 years. During that time, he made a good name for himself as a small business owner. He stays busy doing various remodeling jobs in and around Kerrville, Texas.
He has sung in a 45-man choir in San Antonio. In addition, he uses his artistic talents to create flyers and other projects for the Mount Olive Baptist Church and the Doyle community. Gazetia told me that he used to play the organ; however, he had a stroke and could not remember how to play after his illness. In fact, Gazetia said, “some people have new talents after a stroke…I didn’t get anything.” I respectfully disagree! God gave Gazetia the LIGHT, a light that shines in the darkness of this world. A light that leads others like a beacon to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Since I met Gazetia a few weeks ago, he has volunteered his time to help with the water ministry and invited me to his men’s breakfast meeting. During that meeting, I came to see his true servant-leader spirit. Gazetia cooks and serves breakfast to the Brotherhood one Saturday each month. When the meeting was ready to begin, Gazetia stood up to speak…he is the President! Servant leadership at its best.
When something goes wrong at the church (like a church van having a maintenance problem), Gazetia is the man the Pastor(s) call. I experienced this first-hand as we talked during one of our meetings. He helps young people in the community with work, and there isn’t a car that passes by without a wave from the driver.
Gazetia was asked to perform in a presentation in honor of the Buffalo Soldiers. He did a superb job and brought credit to the Buffalo Soldiers, himself, and God. Performing in front of your peers is never easy. He did so, however, with the presence and dignity of a “Man of God.”
It is an honor for me to write this post. First, to share with you a glimpse of a man who has said “YES” to God when others with similar backgrounds said “no.” Who denies himself daily and picks up his cross for Christ. To shine the spotlight on a man who feels unworthy but IS worthy because he reflects the “Off The Bench” lifestyle that Jesus calls us to live.
I find it no wonder that God led me to Gazetia Williams as Off The Bench Ministry was forming. He is a blessing and a trusted advisor. It’s a privilege to call him a brother-in-Christ and a friend.