Anthony Olds ’17 (College of Arts & Sciences) is using past struggles to transform his community’s future. As a youth pastor taking on the challenges of dealing with suicide and depression, Olds found himself leading a movement in Hampton Roads to promote peace through Jesus Christ. The Regent University psychology major overcame academic obstacles to land in a place of leadership and encourage others that they have meaning.
“I just felt that [attending] Regent was too much for me. I didn’t have a high GPA. I lacked accolades. I didn’t think I had the money, but God continued to make ways for me,” said Olds, who says his middle and high school teachers told him he’d never amount to anything. “Regent has really opened my eyes to different forms of leadership, Christian leadership to change the world. I just watch the professors interact with us. It made me want to go more to interact with teens that way. Regardless of what age group I end up counseling, I just want to be able to interact with them, and be an open ear.”
Olds has been working with teens already at his church. His father, a pastor, inspired him to be a youth pastor when he was just 18. That year, he lost a friend to suicide, a situation he’d need to confront at his job. He developed a vision to do something great for his community and the world. With encouragement from his godfather, Olds began “Journey to Peace,” a mission that provided events for those dealing with depression, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, and for those who have lost people to violence.
“The thing I tell everybody who I talk to is that the only solution to everything going on right now is the true power of God,” said Olds. “A lot of people turn to this and that. We can do many things, but we’re not God. Nobody is greater than God. Nobody is stronger than Him. The only solution as a Christian that I know to bring prevention to these things or to bring some type of peace is God, the power of God.”
What started as a peace walk a few years ago has grown into a collaboration among more than 20 churches. The most recent event was a weekend-long worship service with prayer for peace and unity. Olds plans to hold another peace weekend in November or December.
“God was just showing me that these people are on a journey, so I got the name “Journey to Peace,” said Olds. “They are taking their journey to that peace. Whatever their peace is, they are going to find it. That’s our job to help them find that peace. Ultimate peace is the peace of God. That’s what we want to show them, the peace of Christ.”
Olds hopes the movement will encourage others to not give up, that God has called each person for a purpose. He worked hard through community college to make his way to Regent, and Olds says his life is proof that it is possible to triumph over personal struggles through the power of God.