When I was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, one of the things people asked me was whether or not I was really okay. I blogged about it, I shared my story with others as I was living through it, and I took advantage of the opportunity to spend more quality with the people I loved.
In this day and time, I find myself asking the people more and more whether are not they are okay…really okay.
Fear. Uncertainty. Anxiety. Worry. Despair. Isolation. Loneliness.
At any point on any given day, that’s pretty much what we’re feeling. We feel it as a nation. on our jobs, in our families…and it doesn’t feel good. When we turn on the television we’re faced with images of politicians who are ranting, people who are hoarding, and communities that are suffering as a result of a worldwide pandemic.
Ironically, during that time, I laughed more than I cried. I felt God’s presence from the very beginning so I was really okay. But my friends and family didn’t always think so…which is understandable. When someone you love is diagnosed, the word cancer brings out all kinds of emotions, and usually, sadness rings the loudest.
One of things that helped me get through that experience was reading. I read blogs regularly, and my favorite types of books to read are non-fiction – ideally faith-based non-fiction. As soon as I was diagnosed, I started subscribing to even more devotional emails than usual so my email inbox could be infused with a little bit of Jesus and inspiration throughout the day. Because the bloggers and authors were a part of my daily life, they helped me through the cancer experience. In my mind, though, they became my friends.
I saw a meme the other day that said, “I saw my boyfriend today. And by boyfriend, I mean the guy I have been internet stalking secretly for months. So today, in the spirit of that meme, I want to tell you about a few friends of mine who have actually made a huge difference in my life…most of them via YouTube.
I do have the privilege of knowing a few of them personally. They really are friends in real life. My pastor is also included in the list because, well, he’s my pastor and I think he’s a great bible teacher. A few more I’ve met once or twice just because we live in the same city or I’ve heard them speak at a local ministry event. Others may have liked a tweet or an Instagram post that I tagged them in. And lastly, some of them I have never met and may not ever meet, but they add so much value to my life through their videos that I just can’t leave them out.
Because they’re my friends, you know? Here’s the list:
*All photos are screenshots, courtesy of YouTube.*
Howard-John Wesley is the pastor at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA. He’s a Chicago native, a Duke University graduate, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and a single father of two boys. He’s a 5th-generation preacher and a great bible teacher. He is also very transparent about life and its trials. In my opinion, he became a better preacher after his very public and painful divorce a few years ago. (Which he has even talked about in the pulpit before).
Stephen Furtick is the pastor at Elevation Church in North Carolina. He is married to Holly (who’s a pretty good bible teacher herself) and father of three. He’s fashionably stylish and his video presence is uniquely insightful. Like Alfred Street, Elevation Church has a huge presence on YouTube and they live stream all weekend services.
Tony Evans is the senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, TX. As one of the veterans of this group, he is also the founder of The Urban Alternative. Dr. Evans teaches the bible, yes, but also teaches his parishioners practical skills for living what he calls The Kingdom Agenda.
Priscilla Shirer, a Dallas native, currently operates Going Beyond Ministries with her husband Jerry. She is a preacher’s kid who grew up under the teaching of her father, Tony Evans. Priscilla is a homeschooling mom of three boys and takes a practical approach to empowering women through the knowledge of who they are in Christ Jesus.
Crystal Evans Hurst, also a Dallas native, obviously has bible-teaching in her DNA. Chrystal’s presence on YouTube is a bit different than her that of her father and sister. Chrystal, a book author, also has a new show on Youtube entitled, The Sister Circle Show. She and her husband Jessie have five children, and one grandchild – with another one on the way! She often mentions that During one season of her life, she was handling kindergarten to college across all her kids…and she survived!
Andy Stanley is another preacher’s kid turned preacher in this group. He pastors in the Atlanta area, but is also the founder of North Point Ministries. One of my favorite things about him is his transparency when it comes to being an adult child of divorce, and his relationship with his father.
When I think about Charles Stanley, I can’t help but feel like I am talking about my own father. The wisdom and insight he gives through his organization, In Touch Ministries, is biblically-based and relevant in modern times.
I first heard Bianca Olthoff when she led a bible study on the Book of Ruth. Her teaching style is biblical and historical, but she is best known for making the bible applicable and understandable for women of all ages. She is very expressive when she teaches, so I’m sure you can imagine why she and I are friends. Lol.
Yes. Christine Cain. Yes again. Christine has a unique way of making me feel as though we are sitting down for coffee and just chatting about life. And Jesus. And parenting teenagers. And everything in between. And you know what I admire most about her? She talks about mistakes she’s made in the past, and what she’s learned from them. She is truly authentic.
Another Dallas pastor, Bryan Carter is the minister at Concord Church. He has a great presence on YouTube, but my favorite place to follow him is actually Facebook. He is has a unique personality that makes you feel as if you are video chatting with a friend. A friend who happens to be trained to discuss things that are deep in God’s word.
Reginald Buckley is a native of Jackson, MS and is the Executive Pastor at Cade Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. The church he currently pastors is also the church he grew up in under the direction of his father. Rev. Buckley has a unique old-school demeanor that is riddled with wisdom beyond his years. Cade Chapel live streams their services via Facebook Live every Sunday.
Byron Shaffner accepted his call to ministry at 14 years old. He is a comic book collector, superhero aficionado and lover of all things Disney. He speaks at a lot of ministry events in the Dallas area and also shares His love of the gospel through Facebook posts and videos. In his words, His only goal in life is to be a true warrior for Christ and after hearing him speak for two minutes, you’ll see why.
Young, energetic, charismatic. This is Michael Todd. He is the pastor at Transformation Church in Oklahoma and will challenge you, convict you, snatch your edges, and teach you about the bible in one sermon. One of his most popular sermon series on YouTube is one about relationships. Whether or not you are single or married, he has something for everyone in that 8-part series.
Lysa Terkeurst is the founder of Proverbs 31 ministries. One of the things I admire most about her teachings is that she is incredibly authentic. From parenting challenges to medical issues to problems in her marriage, she is a Jesus girl who doesn’t mind sharing her story if can help someone else on their journey called life.
Sarah Jakes Roberts and her husband Toure pastor two churches together in L.A. and Denver. She is very transparent about the twists and turns in her life, especially as they relate to growing up as a child of the world-renowned Bishop T.D. Jakes. She doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges of her life, and her story of love and redemption in the eyes of God is one that will inspire anyone.
Touré Roberts left a lucrative career in corporate America to accept the calling to be a minister. He and his wife, Sarah, pastor two churches together in L.A. and Denver and have six children. He is honest, transparent, and open about his life, particularly as it related to His journey to becoming whole.
Of course, while I created a video playlist of my favorite bible teachers and inspirational people on YouTube, I enjoy hearing about more. Who inspires you in the virtual world? Just for fun, do you consider them as your friends?