The journey of life is like a map made up of winding roads, few routes labeled and detours unmarked. As for Jermaine Watkins (’05), his journey has been dotted with storms, joys, and provisions along the way. “I’ve been molded through storms—personal storms, relational storms,” he said. “I thought I would have been doing one thing for the rest of my life: I graduate, I pastor a church, I live there 35 or 40 years, I die. That’s what you think, but I think God has gotta shake you through the process.”
Jermaine, a pastoral ministries graduate, has worn many hats during his time ministering to others. Currently, he’s an executive pastor in Charleston, SC, and an interim executive pastor in Charlotte, NC, but he also advises and does consultation work for other churches. His training at PCC, especially his ministerial classes, helped him to be what any group or individual he worked with needed. “I used to see myself as just a pastor, or that’s all I wanted to do,” he said. “But I’ve realized that I’m a little bit more than that because different people need something different. I’ve been equipped over the years with not only my education, but my experience to not only be a pastor, but to be a mentor, to be an advisor, to be a consultant, and to be a better friend,” he said. “It’s meeting people where they are. And that’s probably the most difficult part—understanding the context and understanding the specific calling so that we can help them walk and focus on that.”
Inspired by his evangelist father, Pastor Watkins felt led to go into the ministry himself, but as a pastor who cultivates and grows his congregation. As others heard of his calling, Jermaine’s journey soon shifted away from his Bahamian home and toward a Christian college in Northwest Florida. “One of my mentors, Cranston Knowles (’93, ’95, ’04, ’06), went [to PCC]. He actually put me in a corner and was like, this is where you need to go. If I was going to be trained to be in ministry, I needed to be in one of the best places for ministry,” he explained.
While in college, Jermaine found several sources of encouragement and learning from friends, peers, and college faculty, including participating in Christian Service with Kwame Selver (’02, ’03) and brothers Daniel (’01, ’03) and David (’01, ’03) Pigott. “I remember Kwame giving me my first opportunity to preach in front of people. Someone saw my giftedness and believed in me,” he recalled. “My roommate for three years, GJ Role (’05), kept me focused on the purpose, what we were going to do, and how we were going to impact our home country.”
After graduating from PCC, Jermaine went on to earn a master’s degree in counseling from Luther Rice College & Seminary (GA) and began investing in churches, first in the Bahamas and later in the States. Through his consultation work, he counseled churches by learning their vision and helping them to strategize and attain their goals. “That’s probably the most difficult part—understanding the context and understanding the specific calling, so that we can help them walk in focus of that. And also being sensitive to what the Lord is doing in the moment and not assuming [that] what God did over there, He wants to do over here,” he said.
After disaster struck in the Bahamas, many of Jermaine’s established relationships, before and since college, were tested and strengthened. On September 1, 2019, Hurricane Dorian made landfall on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas, beginning its several-days-long crawl across the island nation. The category 5 storm leveled communities that hadn’t experienced such intensity in years. In the aftermath, Jermaine saw support pour in from college friends and mentors across the U.S. and elsewhere. He also reconnected with high school friends and distant relatives, all doing what they could to support each other and their hurting community.
“We saw God work in retrospect. Twenty years ago, he brought me to PCC, and the hand of God connected us so that we’re in the right place at the right time. I wish I could say that there was a great revival that took place [after the storm]. I can’t necessarily say that; I think God is still working. There’s still brokenness,” Jermaine said. “I often say that God lives in the Bahamas; it’s so beautiful. I think He’s using the storms to make His home better in the Bahamas.”
Six months later, Jermaine found himself counseling and advising churches through a separate disaster—a pandemic. Jermaine assisted pastors as they learned how to excel in reaching people online and with strategizing reopening plans for their communities. “Some churches didn’t have an online presence and didn’t have a platform for the people to give and be connected and plugged in. They’re already reaching people that would’ve never walked through their doors,” he said. “There’s a church that I’ve been helping that has a membership of about 70. They’ve been reaching almost 1,000 people a week. Instead of them meeting us where we are in our buildings, we’re meeting people where they are on their phones, on their tablets and computers. It’s going to them.”
Throughout his journey, Jermaine has been able to use his talents to help people move through difficult storms in their lives. He rejoices with each victory others experience, whether as part of the church or in their personal walk with God. “It’s trusting the Lord that this too shall pass. This is a season. If I just continue moving forward, the joy comes in the morning,” he said. “So just keep moving forward. The only way you don’t win is if you stop.”