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Grace Baptist's new pastor hopes to make youngsters 'world conscious'

R.J. Holt wants young people to help world's poor

Posted: May 10, 2008 1:29 a.m.
Updated: July 11, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Just two months into his new position as pastor of student life at Grace Baptist Church, R.J. Holt already has big plans for the Saugus church's youth ministry and its junior high and high school students.

"Grace would be a place to show God's love to the community and people outside the church," Holt said.

He also wants to show that the church and its services can be a "place for kids to feel safe" and that "God can make a huge difference in their lives."

Perhaps most importantly, Holt wants to make others "world conscious" by taking students on a series of mission trips around the world to help the poor.

"There's a whole world out there that needs help," he said.

While Holt's goals may seem ambitious, he is not new to youth ministry.

The Bellflower native has been involved in the ministry for 22 years and holds a master's degree in marriage and family counseling and another master's in education.

Before taking the position at Grace Baptist, Holt was living in Texas and was involved with the student ministry of one of the area's flagship churches.

After stumbling across an online advertistment promoting the open position at Grace Baptist, Holt decided to try something new, like putting together a resume.

"It was the first time I ever did a resume," he said.

He soon found himself interviewing for the position, which was vacated by Dan Smouse, who moved on to become senior pastor at a church in Idaho. Holt said he felt a real connection to Grace Baptist.

"I thought, 'Golly, this place is pretty compatible with who I am as a person and who I am as a minister,'" Holt recalled.

It was a sentiment Mike Gaston, outreach pastor at Grace Baptist, also realized.

"He wants to help kids all over the place," he said, noting that the helping will not just be limited to the Santa Clarita Valley.

He sees Holt as someone who is "very eager to get kids into cross-cultural situations" through world wide mission trips to areas in need, including India, Cambodia and various parts of Asia.

Additionally, Gaston believes Holt works well with students.

"He's got a way of relating to a broad scope of kids," he said, adding that the former Texan is able to communicate with youngsters.

"We are thrilled he is here," he said.


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