Lincoln Countian gives rousing sermons - at five years old

October 03, 2003|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Faith can call to a man at any age, and James Thomas Summers heard that calling the day he was born.

As a kindergartener at Hustonville Elementary and a devout Baptist, J.T.'s rousing sermons show a dedication to God's word that grown men are hard-pressed to match.

J.T., son of Krystal and David Summers of Lincoln County, is spreading God's messages with the timber and convictions of a seasoned pastor.

J.T. looks like an average 5-year-old. He eats gummy worms as he watches "Veggie Tales." He likes childhood favorites like Spiderman and dinosaurs. His mom says he loves to color pictures of Jesus. But J.T.'s devotion to God's word has been stunning congregations for almost a year.


"It's amazing what that kid can show you. It's amazing," said Dottie Sallee, J.T.'s aunt.

J.T. gave his first sermon at the age of four, standing on a picnic table at a church social.

"My preacher was afraid I would fall off the table, so he tried to hold me," said J.T.

"It was a shock, we knew he wanted to, but we never thought he would," said Krystal Summers. "...There's always been something special about him since the day he was born. He's always drawn people to him."

"The day he was born, and my eyes met his, I prayed he became a minister. I went down to the gift store and bought him a little white Bible," said Sallee.

Now J.T. has several Bibles, none of which he can read yet. But J.T. doesn't need a Bible when he preaches, said his family. He lets God do the talking, and then closes by singing "Jesus Loves Me."

"He doesn't have a special sermon," said Krystal Summers. "He said he just waits to say what the Lord tells him."

"My favorite part is where I say Jesus died on the cross for us and shed his blood for me," said J.T.

Sermons range from a few minutes to half an hour

Sermons range from a few minutes to half an hour, starting with a prayer. During most sermons, he is impeccably dressed in a charcoal suit, complete with a crucifix pin. As congregations struggle to get a better view of the small boy up front, J.T. begins speaking; quietly at first - but he soon builds momentum.

"If you all don't know Jesus, I'll pray for you. I'll pray for your families," he said this summer at the Broadway Baptist Church in Harrodsburg. The congregation murmurs "amen."

"Jesus gives my heart joy and it runs like blood through the veins," J.T. continues. " ... He took that nail for me, and that's why I gave my life to Jesus." The amens grow stronger.

"I love Jesus!" he shouts into the microphone. The congregation cheers.

After God's message has been given, J.T. often closes with a prayer and sings his trademark song.

"When I preach, God lays it on my heart to sing 'Jesus Loves Me,'" J.T. said.

In the past year, his sermons have grown with him, becoming more in-depth and delivered with confidence.

J.T.'s confidence and convictions have outgrown the confines of a church sanctuary. He shares God's message with everyone around him, even at school or in Wal-Mart. He visits the elderly in nursing homes and prays when he sees an ambulance, both for the sick to be healed and the passengers to know God. He gives sermons at any local church upon request, and he's already visited many.

"He'll make you cry. His teacher walked him to the car the other day, and she said 'he just got done introducing me to the Lord, and made me cry,'" said David Summers.

"If people don't know Jesus, they can know by me telling them," explained J.T. "If they don't know Jesus, they have to watch Veggie Tales."

"I'm tickled to death," said David Summers. "Wherever he's at, he'll walk up to you and introduce himself and say, 'Hello, I'm J.T. Summers. Do you know that Jesus died for your sins?'"

"It's God, that's all I can say," said Sallee. "It's just God."

Emily Burton can be reached at

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