About the time Boatman was graduated from Carroll High School in Corpus Christi in the mid-’90s, he listened to the Rev. Bevans Welder, preaching on the radio from Bible Baptist.
“So, I started driving to Beeville every Sunday to attend church and hear Welder,” Boatman says.
Later, when Welder moved to Corpus Christi, Boatman helped him start and develop a church there. “I worked with him for years, building the church in Corpus Christi from the ground up. It was great basic training. If you don’t pass on what you have learned, it’s worthless.”
Building on Welder’s experience, Boatman accepted Bible Baptist’s offer from 23 members of its congregation to be their pastor.
“This is the first time I have been the pastor,” he says.
He steps behind the pulpit with a B.A. in theology from the Blue Ridge Bible Institute in North Carolina but also with the conviction that preaching is the fulfillment of a calling that had been nagging him for years.
Whether in Houston or Quito, Ecuador—his father was in the oil business—he tried to ignore that still, small voice that kept urging him to the ministry.
“It was something that I actually fought against. I failed public speaking two times in college. I kept answering that ‘there’s nothing I can bring to the table here.’”
He followed his father’s footsteps, instead. “I ran away from it, for about three years. The oilfield has always been a job that pays the bills, but the ministry was the first and foremost thing in my life. It was both a calling and a burden.”
His association with Welder, he says, “cleared the air. It made it very clear was the Lord wanted me to do.”
His turning point was in a hotel in Hebbronville in 2001. “I’m in that room, reading the Bible and praying and the call to preach was just so present. It was a fight...a fight between my will and His will.
“I knew what I needed to do. So I called Brother Welder and said, ‘You know, I think the Lord wants me to preach.’”
In the next few years Boatman worked “in every capacity” at Welder’s church in Corpus, learning every facet of church administration.
When he accepted the Bible Baptist offer, “it was as if all my training was paying off.” He and his wife, Marybeth, and their four children moved to Beeville last week. Because the church cannot support a full-time minister, Boatman will continue working in the oil field part-time.
Bible Baptist’s offer, he says, was significant because the church had gone through three previous ministers in rapid succession. But, when the congregation offered the leadership to Boatman, “it was the first time that the church members agreed unanimously on a choice of minister instead of being torn apart by a power struggle.”
After all those years helping his mentor grow his church in Corpus Christi, at the service July 13, when Boatman was officially accepted as pastor, Welder delivered the sermon.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.