Greater Works Christian Fellowship - 801 South Adams Street, Petersburg, Virginia 23805 - (804) 651-6155
Shawn Brooks is a husband, father of three, pastor and retired Marine. He is the founder and Senior Pastor of Greater Works Christian Fellowship, a non-denominational multi-cultural church.
Pastor Shawn was just 22 when he first got behind a pulpit. He grew up in Petersburg, Virginia, attending Mount Olivet Baptist Church. Immediately after graduating from Petersburg High School, Pastor Shawn enlisted in the Marine Corps. While stationed in San Diego, he met and married his wife, Marlo.
Pastor Shawn served in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Germany and Bosnia and in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in Iraq. He graduated from National University in San Diego with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and is currently attending Liberty University working toward his Master’s Degree in Divinity.
Pastor Shawn sat down with us for a candid interview.
How was your relationship with Christ, while growing up?
PS: There wasn’t any significant relationship with Christ but instead it was more of just going to the church for a visit, merely as a tradition of attending the Church on Sundays. I’ve always had belief in God and His holy words, but didn’t live my life accordingly. Again it was just to show that I attended the church. In reality me and my brothers would sneak out after the choir was done singing, and go on the Avenue to get candy and chips. Subsequently we would walk back home and by the time we got back home, the church service would be done and our mom would fall in our deception that we attended the full service with harmony but that was just a lie. Lastly we would change clothes and go play ball at the park (Jefferson Street Park) across the street from the house.
Most people who met you as Pastor Shawn never knew about “Fat Cat.” Shine some light on who is or was Fat Cat? How did you get the nick name?
PS: Firstly I must admit that I was somewhat of a hell raiser while on the contrary the lively guy from the neighborhood, full of vigor who loved to joke around, whose own happiness was behind others’ smiles, was the charming personality; Fat Cat.
My mom nick-named me Fat Cat because I was such a fat baby.
I used to hang out with the boys from the hood. Back then, we didn’t entitle ourselves “a gang” like they do today; we were more like brothers. Our leisure was often fighting the guys from across the town, breaking into the swimming pool and going swimming during nights. Moreover hanging out till’ crazy hours in the morning, going to the clubs drinking alcohol and chasing girls was our bliss. I was always an average student who could’ve done more but always found shortcuts to work in my favor. I had the dishonor of being suspended from school due to my troublesome behavior; fighting, gambling and skipping class. While on the other hand Fat Cat was just another young kid lacking a lot of direction who just lived life with the flow it went on.
At what moment or instance did you make the decision to walk away from Fat cat? Was it difficult?
PS: To be honest it wasn’t that much of a difficult moment at all. I always enjoyed being Fat Cat, but I also knew that if wanted success and to make something of my life some changes had to be made. I knew that if I wanted people to take me seriously and professionally my nick name wasn’t going to allow that. Surprisingly people heard about the acceptance of my calling, so they dropped Fat Cat and starting calling me Shawn out of respect for it, I guess. There are still those who refer to me as Fat Cat only because they probably don’t know my real name. It gets awkward at instances when people would be in between calling me Fat Cat, and they would try to correct themselves and call me Shawn out of respect.
Who is Pastor Shawn?
PS: Pastor Shawn, being one of the Brooks’ Boys was the son of Audrey Brooks Fields (AB), the brother of both Terri and Sherri; I’m just a regular guy who found God early on in my life, and decided to do the work that I was called to do.
Pastor Shawn is a humane and down to earth guy who enjoys spending time with his family, playing and coaching basketball, and doing home renovations. I’m just an everyday kind of guy who loves life.
Describe the experience when God called you to lead.
PS: I have always been a leader, but the calling to the ministry was uniquely special for me. I really didn’t comprehend why God chose me for the call at the tender age of 18. The experience was exciting, yet a little nervy at the same time; because getting over the fact of my adolescence relating to the significance of the task was still on my mind. Leadership from this platform is similar to walking on a thin rope with trivial margin of error; you can’t make a mistake because I was often judged and condemned for a single mistake, which themselves they make repeatedly. So let’s define it as headship by example with no room for slip-ups; but me being so young, and was still a teenager myself I would often get ridiculed for enjoy being a teen.
Why Petersburg? What led you to establish a church in the city where you grew up?
PS: Petersburg has always been my home, it’s where my family and friends reside; a place that many men turn their backs on, but I proceeded in the opposite direction; towards it. Petersburg is seen as a place bearing nothing good by most people but again I am not most people and my vision sees it as land of opportunity and fertility with the new seed waiting to be planted. I always wanted to deliver my services back to the city in which I was raised, simply because I wanted to make it a better place to live for those succeeding me, and what better way is there than to introduce as many people to Christ as possible.
There are people who live in situations that, from the point of view of the church, are irregular or somewhat complex. I am speaking of Christians that, in one way or another, have been made to live with open wounds due to a loss of faith in the church. The unchurched, so to speak. The divorced or remarried, same-sex couples, alcoholics, drug addicts, and others finding themselves in a wide array of difficult situations.
What kind of pastoral work can Greater Works Christian Fellowship do in these cases?
PS: I like to refer to the church as a hospital that receives people from all different walks of life who have found themselves in situations that they can’t fix themselves. They may feel helpless to remedy themselves, but the doctor in this hospital I am speaking of, namely Jesus, can. The church is equipped with counselors who are certified to handle those who may be bound by the strongholds of society. We can provide spiritual, emotional, and loving support services that will allow individuals to regain the balance they need to live a normal and balanced life. We are in the business of restoring people to their rightful place in the church and with God so that they may receive the gifts He has promised them.
What about the role of women in the church? What should be the role of women in the church, and what can be done to make their role more visible today?
PS: I believe that women hold as much of a right in the church as a man, as they so very often played a very large part in it throughout history. You must remember that some of Jesus’ closest friends and those who followed him were women. This is a very touchy subject, but I could spend days trying to define the role of women in relation to the church. However, I will tell you this - man and woman were meant to rule over God’s creation, and both were created in God’s image. I believe that a woman can serve in ministry as long as she has a spiritual covering, and they absolutely have a lot to offer when it comes to the church.
How does one seek and find God in all things?
PS: I believe God has given us the best example of how we can see Him in all things in simply seeing nature carrying out God’s purpose every day. When we pay more attention to God we become more thankful and reverent towards Him, and in that practice we become more devoted. Just knowing that God is present in everything we do and simply acknowledging that fact allows us to find Him in all things. I truly believe that God is in both the Good and the Bad that happens in our lives. God is everywhere and in all things. By simply acknowledging that fact, we achieve being able to identify with Him and being able to see him.
Do we have to be hopeful? What are the signs of hope in today’s world? How can I be hopeful in a world in crisis?
PS: Yes, I believe we have to be hopeful. Being hopeful allows us to continue to trust in God even when there is no evidence to support what we are believing. Some of the signs of hope in today’s confusing world is that churches still have their doors open to welcome home those who have strayed away, or simply lost their way back home. We see hope in that God is still performing miracles to this day and sometimes we read about them every day without ever really realizing it. When someone escapes a serious car accident untouched, or when a baby is born into this world when the odds were stacked against them – that is the evidence of God. I truly believe hope comes from hearing the word of God, as his word brings light to every situation. Simply knowing how and when to apply the word of God can be very comforting in itself.
What is your preferred way to pray?
PS: My preferred method of praying is just talking to God as if He is physically standing beside me. I always acknowledge first that He is God, then I ask for forgiveness. Then I began to pray and ask for His help in areas I may be weak and need strength. I then pray for specific situations and circumstances.
Do you always get it right? Are there times that you still have to ask God for forgiveness?
PS: I think I get it wrong more often than not. I have feelings that get hurt, and many times people still let me down. I do often get talked about, so yes, my emotions will still sometimes get the best of me. So I suppose that no, I don’t always get it right. I think that as long as I’m in this body, I will never truly get it right. For this reason, I have to stay close to the cross so that on my best day I won’t mess up. I have to ask God for forgiveness every single day because of something I said, thought, or have done. I’m a man that has flaws and shortcomings just like the next man, but what keeps me moving forward is that God continues to forgive me.
What are you most passionate about?
PS: Helping single mothers see value in themselves.
What impact has your church had on the City of Petersburg?
PS: GWCF has been at the center of numerous zealous achievements. We have reshaped the lives of many people, by providing them with means to purchase homes, cars, and help them with employment opportunities within the city. The church has also sponsored the Fillmore House and cooked and served meals for the less fortunate. GWCF has been giving scholarships to graduating seniors; the church has also conducted classes to help with financial freedom. Further achievements include the church outreaching in the community by hosting several events in the park to reach the unchurched. In short, we are getting in the position to be the heartbeat of the city that will keep people striving to do their best.
What do you want the legacy of Greater Works Christian Fellowship to be?
PS: I would yearn for the legacy of the church to be remembered for its genuine love for the people of God, and bringing change that will inspire and make a motivational impact on the generations to come. Moreover I wish for it to be a place that will open its door to anyone despite differences and lastly that will give people a sense of hope and love.
How do you want to be remembered yourself?
PS: My vision is to deliver something back to society in an effort to make the lives' of people easier.
I would like to be remembered as someone who reached back to give his city, all the fellow brother and sisters a hand up, also who prioritized others before himself that they might be able to find their purpose in life and serve God full-heartedly.
Why Greater Works Christian Fellowship? Why should I give to your church? How and where will my donation be used?
PS: You should give to GWCF so you can help us Build, Empower, strengthen, and teach people that they can do greater works without limitations. Your generosity will help us reach more people on a larger platform, and open doors to opportunities that would not have otherwise been available. It will also help open teen centers and provide the education that will foster positive change in our youth. Your generosity will help to provide the training that is needed to help get people into the workforce.
By giving to GWCF we will be able to feed the homeless and provide shelter. By giving you will partner with us to rebuild a weak infrastructure of the men in the city.
Your giving may be in the form of volunteerism, service, outreach and supplies.
You may also give by texting GWCF to 77977 and visiting www.gwcfellowship.com.
Why should I become a member of Greater Works Christian Fellowship?
PS: GWCF is a great family! If you are looking to make a difference in our community, or being the difference yourselves or searching to bring about change-We are the right place for you.
Become a part of something that is bigger than you, leaving a lasting impression on generations to follow. We care for each other.
You do not have to become a member, just visit us; come pray with us; drop by a bible study class.
More Facts about Pastor Shawn:
Family Dog: Bishop
Favorite Saying: “That’s foolishness”
Favorite NFL Team: Dallas Cowboys
Favorite College Football Team: Virginia Tech
Favorite College Basketball Team: North Carolina Tarheels