Family Week Event: Friday, January 27, 8:30-10:30 p.m.
During Family Week, our FCA is hosting a special Food & Faith Event for ALL high school students on Friday, January 27 from 8:30-10:30 p.m.
Students will wear from JJ Washington, an assistant to Pastor Johnny Hunt of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, as he shares his amazing life story. You don't want to miss hearing this dynamic speaker!
Of course, food will be served. The HS Lock-In begins as part of this event.
However, Washington still encountered more difficulty as his grandparents suffered from alcoholism; therefore, Washington often went unrecognized as he hung-out in the streets idolizing his older brother, Victor Long, and cousins who were among the gangsters of the city. Victor did not want his younger brother to follow in his path and risk dying young in the streets or going to prison. Eventually, Washington’s parents made some strides in the right direction as his mother followed his Father to Georgia in 1993, but as the family moved from Atlanta, to Stone Mountain, and to Decatur, Washington unleashed his temper and became notoriously known as "the little guy with the short temper."
While attending Stone Mountain Junior High, Washington was sent home many times for causing disturbances and fighting. Because of Washington’s multiple disciplinary problems, administrators almost decided to send him to an alternative school. However, since he was moving on to Stone Mountain High School they gave him a final chance to clean up his act.
On May 1, 1996, Victor had broken his neck in a serious boating accident and ended up on a life-support machine in the intensive care unit. While holding his brother's hand, as the nurses unplugged the life-support machine, Washington promised he would change his life around. However, this dramatic change would not begin for a few years.
Angry at the fact that his brother had died, Washington continued to live with the rage that had gotten him into trouble so many times. During his tenure at Stone Mountain High School, he was in numerous brawls, frequently suspended and was almost expelled for hitting someone with a baseball bat. The fact that he was able to prove that he did not inflict the blow that broke someone's jaw and that he was allowed to come back to school was nothing more than the grace of God.
In August 1999, Washington, who had always excelled academically and athletically, accepted a full football scholarship from North Carolina State University and he brought both his work ethic and boiling temper to Raleigh, NC. Not until October 14, 2000, the day of the rival football game against the University of North Carolina, did Washington take steps to get on the right track in life. Washington was the starting cornerback and was having the time of his life, but a fateful play in the first half ended his glee. He went down with a painful knee injury, and tests ultimately revealed that he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament and would not play again that year.
During the rehabilitation period, Washington was introduced to Reverend David Cameron, at a campus Bible study in August 2001. Washington was seeking someone to pray over his knee, and ended up having a life changing experience. Rev. Cameron asked Washington if he had ever accepted Jesus Christ into his life. Washington contemplated this question and realized that Christ would fill the void in his life, in a way that football never could. At that moment Washington decided to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior & Lord.
Washington began to read his Bible more and grew closer to God in the process. He ultimately realized that his priorities were out of order and that God, not football, should be first in his life. In the summer of 2002, Washington discovered that his purpose in life was to minister. This was a challenge that Washington accepted wholeheartedly. During the fall semester of 2002, Washington started a campus ministry called “Servants of the Lord Ministries,” and only three athletes were in attendance at the first meeting, but it later became the home for many students and athletes all over the campus of NC State.
It was an outstanding year and many people accepted Christ and many more rededicated their lives to God. In addition, the coaches and the players were quick to credit the ministry and Bible studies, Washington held on Thursday’s and the night before games, for bringing the team closer together. The team went on to finish the season at 11-3 with a Gator Bowl victory over top ranked Notre Dame. Washington was excited to see the influence God allowed Him to have on people’s lives.
With one year of eligibility left in football, Washington decided to forgo his last year and enter the ministry. On May 17, 2003, Washington graduated with a degree in Communications, making him the first member of the immediate Castleberry family in Clearwater, FL to obtain a college degree. Shortly thereafter, Washington entered the ministry as a bi-vocational youth pastor at Greater Love Family Church in Woodstock, GA and was ordained and licensed in February 2006. Yet, the highlight of the 2003 summer was his marriage to his girlfriend of six years, Tamara B. Parker, on beautiful Clearwater Beach July 12, 2003.
A few years later, the happily married couple had their first child, Jairus T. Washington, on May 16, 2007. Washington contributed faithfully as a Youth Pastor at Greater Love Family Church until December 2008 when he joined the staff at The Mission Church and the faith-based non-profit Organization City of Refuge in the inner-city of Atlanta. Washington was able to have an immediate impact on the kids living in the inner-city of Atlanta as the Lord allowed his childhood experiences to serve as a bridge to connect to the hearts of kids who were suffering from the same issues. In 2008, Washington also enrolled at Luther Rice Seminary in Lithonia, GA in pursuit of a Master of Arts in Leadership.
In May 2010, Washington, who was licensed again by Eric Harris, Pastor of Tabernacle Baptist, on February 06, 2010 returned to his roots in Clearwater, Florida to plant Chosen Generation Church on May 21, 2010. In the following month, Washington’s father sustained a traumatic brain injury, which eventually took his life, from a severe automobile accident on I-285 in Atlanta, GA.
After initially continuing with the church plant and attempting to manage his father’s care from afar, Washington decided to cancel his ministry plans in Florida and returned to Georgia in order to be his father’s primary care-taker. However, Washington’s father passed away several days after relocating his family back to Georgia full-time on July 4, 2011.
Moreover, a few months prior to his father’s passing, Washington went on to earn his Master of Arts in Leadership from Luther Rice Seminary in May 2011 and returned to Corporate America for a few years where he successfully transitioned up several steps on the corporate ladder before returning to seminary again, but this time as a full-time student in June 2014 to earn a Master of Divinity, which he completed in May 2016.
Washington and his family, which now in addition to Jairus T. Washington (his son) consists of Jayla T. Washington (his daughter, born August 11, 2011), have been attending First Baptist Church Woodstock since July 2011 where they are currently members. After serving in the Education ministry for three years and being mentored by Pastor Johnny in 2016, Washington joined the staff at First Baptist Church Woodstock where he currently serves as an assistant to Pastor Johnny Hunt. Washington acknowledges the fact that the road has had its share of trials and tribulations, yet he truly expects God to use all of his life experiences, education, training, and service for His glory.
Written By, Kassaundra Lockhart
Member, NCSU Class 2003
Edited by Jurian Washington