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Friday, April 19, 2024

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Pastor Darryl McDonald’s journey is a measure of men and fellowship

McDonald hosts a mens breakfast aimed at fostering fellowship over a hot meal.

The Men’s Fellowship Breakfast at First Baptist Church Bartlett has been encouraging boys and men for 12 years. Pastor Darryl McDonald largely credits his father, Webber McDonald.

At a point when McDonald was adrift and detached from his morally-centered upbringing, his father’s care served as a beacon back to spiritual roots and inspired McDonald’s vision to care for and build up other struggling men and boys.

“God used my father to show me what real, unconditional love was,” said McDonald. “When everyone else gave up on me, my father saw beyond what I had become. Somehow, he saw potential in me and never lost faith in his prayer for the Lord to deliver his lost son.

“Like the prodigal son, I was a long way from my spiritual home, my roots. His example of love taught me how to shepherd and care for people.”

Throughout his upbringing, McDonald was faithful to the things he had been taught about God. He read his Bible often, relating to it as the word of God, full of truth. In 1984 he graduated from Northside High School.

At the Men’s Fellowship Breakfast at First Baptist Church Bartlett, Pastor Darryl McDonald (seated left) and participants embrace the healing power of fellowship. (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

“And turning 19, I began drinking and smoking marijuana. It wasn’t long after that I found myself using crack cocaine. That drug became my whole life.”

He stole from his parents to support his habit and became the object of family disdain.

“My mother would say, ‘Don’t let that boy in this house,’” McDonald recalled. “But my father would tell her, ‘I can’t do that. That is still my son.’ And he just never gave up on me. He tried to keep me from leaving the house and going back out in the streets.

“He handcuffed me to a guitar. The pull of my addiction was so strong that I took that guitar with me. Another time, he handcuffed me to a ladder. I ended up taking that ladder with me, too.”

In 1990, McDonald went to jail for several months. There, he got back to reading his Bible and daily prayer. Released several months later, McDonald was clean and determined to stay that way.

He joined Golden Leaf Baptist Church and began singing in the choir. In stages, he became a Sunday School teacher and later an associate minister.

For nearly four years, McDonald said he ran from a “call” to pastor before going forward with God. He built a church, First Baptist Church Bartlett, and his father became his most faithful member.

Today, McDonald’s ministry is well into the second decade, with the Men’s Fellowship Breakfast a key outreach element.

“Boys from Youth Villages come out and fellowship with us every first Saturday of the month. We eat a hearty breakfast, and one of the pastors in the group preaches a message. Every man is welcome, no matter his station in life, and no matter where he finds himself spiritually,” McDonald said.

“The love and support of other Christian men can heal and deliver. I’ve seen it first-hand. Many have come to our fellowship. We help them see their way again. Some have stayed for years. Others move on once they are healed. That is our mission. It is our purpose, and as long as God says the same, we will be here.”

Last November, McDonald’s father passed. He was 86.

“I always be grateful for God letting him see that his prayers were not in vain,” McDonald said. “He inspired our men’s fellowship because of his great example of Christian love and care.”

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