Pastor James Thomas, Sr. (Courtesy photo)

On July 13, the Rev. James Thomas, Sr. will celebrate his fifth anniversary as pastor of Holy Revival Baptist Church in Compton – a momentous occasion that God prepared him for decades in advance.

Interestingly, Thomas insists, “I never even wanted to be a pastor,” but clearly God had other plans for him, and it all started with his longtime membership at Academy Cathedral Church in Inglewood.  At Academy Cathedral, Thomas lent his talents to several areas.

“I was there for 42 years and did everything at Academy – from cleaning the church to preaching on Sundays and I never knew that God was preparing me to be a pastor,” recalled Thomas.

And then in 2013, the Spirit of the Lord directed him to start a telephone prayer line.  Thomas called it the 7 A.M. Prayer Movement.

“God said, ‘I want you to be on the line, and pray and minister to people seven days a week. So, I have ministered to people all over the country, and even outside the country every day since October 2013,” he said.

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Thomas remembered that many members of the faith community, particularly preachers, were not supportive of him launching the 7 A.M. Prayer Movement and even questioned Thomas’ motives in starting the phone ministry.

“A lot of people said that God wasn’t in it and God didn’t call me to do that. Others said that I was keeping people out of the church. But then, when the pandemic hit [in 2020] and the churches were closed, I had preachers calling to ask me, ‘How do you do this thing over the phone that you’re doing?’

Pastor Thomas ministers during the bilingual worship service. (Courtesy photo)

“But, God knew the pandemic was coming, and he prepared me, so when the pandemic came, I had been ministering by phone, doing it for six years. People trusted me and supported my ministry,” noted the pastor.

Also, the year before in 2019, Thomas had reluctantly accepted the pastoral position at Holy Revival even though he had said, “I wasn’t interested in being a pastor.”  But his name was submitted to the congregation, and he was overwhelmingly voted in.  As the spiritual leader, Thomas focused on rebuilding Holy Revival.

“The church was in in desperate need of repair.  God blessed us to raise over $20,000 during the pandemic to do the repairs. People just listened online and on the 7 A.M. Prayer Movement, and they gave. I don’t know how we could have done it, but God orchestrated that,” he declared.

As pastor, one of Thomas’ major emphases is on building “men and women using the Word of God.”  He is also determined to improve the lives of people in the community through Holy Revival’s outreach programs like their Food Ministry where free groceries are distributed every week.

Holy Revival Church distributes free food to the community every week. (Courtesy photo)

Because his church is located in a Black and Latino neighborhood, he added a Tuesday morning bilingual service in addition to the Sunday worship service at 11 a.m.  He said that his goal is for “Holy Revival to be known as the church that changed Compton.”

“I would like the Holy Revival to be known for making a difference by serving Black people, Mexican people, and white people, and that people’s lives are changing because they are connected to Holy Revival,” said the pastor.

As for the future, Pastor Thomas has several initiatives planned to include opening a shelter for women and operating a school to train youth and adults to be productive members of society.  He also hopes to expand the church’s food ministry to aid more people in L.A. County.

In preparation to achieve these goals, the pastor will be guided by his favorite scripture -Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

“I feel like God has placed me in Compton to make a huge difference,” he said.  “We’re not a mega-church, but we want to do mega-things and help everybody.”


(Courtesy photo)
(Courtesy photo)
(Courtesy photo)
(Courtesy photo)