Rev. Verona Matthews
Other job experience: Former insurance claims officer, then supervisor, then agent; former preschool owner
Other community posts: Co-president of People Engaged in Active Community Efforts; vice chair of board of Sickle Cell Foundation of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast
Education: Degree in liberal arts with concentration in legal studies, Barry University; master's degree in ministry, Palm Beach Atlantic University; studying theology with Emory University
Personal: Age 62. Born in West Palm Beach, raised in Riviera Beach.
Family: Married to Frank, a retired quality control inspector with ATT. Three children, six grandchildren.
You've done so many things -- how did you get into your vocation?
I'd always gone to church, and taught Sunday school, and been an usher and treasurer and financial secretary, and worked with the women's group. But I experienced a calling when I was in church. During the sermon, I heard a distinct voice saying, "That will be you." It was so distinct, I turned around to see if anyone else heard it.
I told the pastor that I felt God had called me. He referred me to someone else, and I thought he was blowing me off. I waited five years before talking to anyone else. But I found people were inviting me to speak, and I had a radio ministry.
Then I talked to another pastor, who started me on the process. That's the rest of the story.
Why do you enjoy it so much?
When someone tells me they feel their life was changed, or they understood something they hadn't understood before. When you know you had a positive effect on someone's life, it can be overwhelming. As long as you know God is using you as an instrument.
What book have you been recommending lately?
I'm in a book club here at the church and we're reading a book about the life of Paul Harvey. I was amazed at his spiritual side. It gave me a different perspective on him.
Written any books?
I've written a prayer journal, and I wrote "Children and Violence: A Spiritual Look." It touches my heart tremendously on the violence in their lives. I even felt led to run for the Palm Beach County Commission. I didn't win, but I wanted to put some issues out.
Where do you like to go on vacation?
Everyplace. I've been to Ghana and a lot of places in the United States.
Favorite music? Favorite performer(s)?
I listen to a lot of gospel music. I've listened to Christian rap, and some of it I like.
What person in history would you like most to meet?
Deborah, a judge in the Bible. She was called to inspire a man to go to war and save the country. He said, "I'll only go if you go." And she didn't say, "Women don't do that." She did it, and she changed a nation.
What was your most memorable spiritual experience?
Before I was called to the ministry, I went to a women's conference by Redemptive Life Fellowship, West Palm Beach. I was overwhelmed by the praying, the singing, the sermon. When I went home that night, I couldn't even sleep. I realized I needed to focus on the spiritual part of my life, not so much on the worldly portion.
Something most people don't know about you?
I wish I could sing, but I can't. My sister once told me, "Just move your mouth."
What do you wish people understood about you?
I hope they understand the amount of compassion I have for people who are hurting, downtrodden, suffering all kinds of injustices. I used to concentrate on kids, but I realize it's not just them; it's also their parents.
Is there one thing you can't stand?
One thing is racism and racial injustice. It has no place in the world, but it's a reality.
Have you ever doubted your faith?
No. I always knew I had a connection with God. Since I was a little girl, I sat in my back yard, talking to God.
Motto, or favorite Scripture verse?
"Nothing beats a failure but a try." Even though you might not be successful in everything, you still have to do it. People often feel "I'm scared, I might not succeed." But the only way to overcome it is to do it. You've succeeded even if you didn't succeed, because you haven't let fear stop you.
James D. DavisCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times