Meridian Township pastor balances church and family

The First Baptist Church of Okemos’ motto is “real people finding real answers.” According to the church’s senior pastor, Joe Dabrowski, that motto rings true for the 240-member congregation.

“They people look to the pastor for guidance,” said Dabrowski. “Whether it’s financial issues or family issues, people want guidance. They look up to me and it’s my role to lead this church.”

Dabrowski has been the senior pastor at First Baptist since 2003 after seven years as associate pastor. Since then, Dabrowski has dedicated his life to serving his congregation to develop a closer relationship with Christianity.

“His transition to the Senior Pastorate has resulted in renewed excitement and a dedicated vision for our church,” said the church’s music director Teressa Lewandowski.

Since being appointed senior pastor, church membership has increased by 100 members since 2003.

“My primary issue as senior pastor is delivering sermons for the Sunday morning and evening services, casting a vision and setting goals for the church,” said Dabrowski.

Dabrowksi’s journey began in Dover, New Hampshire, where he grew up. “I grew up in the Baptist faith and in the church,” said Dabrowski.

“I was baptized when I was three years old and it’s been apart of my life ever since.”

He said that his calling into the ministry came when he was in his late teens and a student at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

“I was 17 years old, a freshman in college,” said Dabrowski. “The Lord gave me a prompt in my heart to become a pastor. I enrolled in the school’s Christian program and it challenged us, but it was something I wanted to do.”

He earned an associate’s degree in Bible Studies and a Bachelor’s in Pastoral Ministries. After graduating from Liberty, he moved to Grand Rapids, Mich. He earned a master’s of Divinity Degree from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. Yet, it was at Liberty University that Dabrowski met an accounting student named Jody.

That friendship would turn into more than 17 years of marriage. “It will be 18 years of marriage in August, “ said Dabrowski.

“She is truly amazing. I’m a lucky man.”

They currently have three children, Seph, 14; Jillian, 12; and Caleigh, 2. The couple also has another child on the way, literally. The family is anticipating the arrival of their adopted daughter, 3-year-old Chloe Faith, from China.

Their other daughter, Caleigh, was also adopted from China. The oldest two are their biological children. Dabrowski said it was his wife’s idea and he was glad they did it. Both children came from orphanages in China.

“It was by my wife’s prompting,” said Dabrowski. “In America we’ve been given so much. We just wanted to give these children hope and give them the same opportunities that we have.”

According to Dabrowski, India, Africa and China have the largest orphan populations in the world. The process of adopting a child from another country could take years and the adoption of their first child was no different.

“We adopted a special needs child. There was a lot involved, paperwork and regulations,” said Dabrowski. “However, my wife’s very organized. It took about 18 months, but we have her now. For our second adoption, it took about 11 months.”

Friends and family can see their journey of adopting another child at http://www.JourneyToMe.com.

“It’s not uncommon for people to document their journey,” said Dabrowski. “It’s also good for people who want to adopt to see how the process goes.”

Despite the busy life as a pastor and father, Dabrowski enjoys every minute of it.

“I love spending time with my family,” said Dabrowski. “I like to play sports and going to the beach. But the most important thing I like to do in my spare time is be with my family.”

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