Deacon With Down Syndrome Follows God’s Call

Barry with his mother Margala and Pastor Patton who is holding a Native American ceremonial blanket that was a gift to Barry.

Article by Scott Patton. Patton is pastor of First Baptist Church of Indiahoma, Okla. Story originally appeared in the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger.


As pastors, we love to lean on the adage that God “doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.”

I’m reminded of 1 Pet. 5:10 “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”

God’s calling is unique, but the one constant is we never know who and how He will call his servants. I had been praying that the Holy Spirit would call one or possibly two men to serve as deacons in our church. I had made the petition public and had spoken to several men about possibly becoming deacons.

One day during a church fellowship meal, a church member approached me with a private issue he wanted to discuss outside. This is not uncommon for pastors, but the person wanting to speak with me in private is unique. Barry Asenap is not your typical 51-year-old. He has Down Syndrome. Although he is 51, he appears much younger.

Despite his outward disability, Barry is an absolute mainstay in our congregation. Barry and his mother Margala have embraced the principles of servanthood. When you see Barry, you see Jesus, and when you hug him you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. To say Barry is beloved in our congregation is an understatement.

When we stepped outside for our private conversation, I could see in Barry’s eyes that he had an extremely heavy heart, and he was anxious.

He grabbed my hand and said, “You have been asking people to be deacons. I prayed. I will be your deacon.”

At first, I didn’t completely understand him. And I asked for clarification.

Barry said, “Like Jay Dee (one of our current deacons), Jesus told me to be a deacon.”

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Source: Church Leaders

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