Many of us grow up with expectations of ourselves, of others, and from others. Dave Ragan, lead pastor of Harvest Ministries in Florida and Assistant Superintendent of Sonshine Ministries Conference, is no different.
Dave’s mother had five miscarriages, and doctors informed her and Dave’s dad that, if she were to get pregnant again, she would die. But God spoke to her and said, “your son will be named David, and he will build many mighty works.”
Dave was born on April 5, 1973, and growing up with this story put a lot of pressure on him. Throughout his childhood, he was hurt at church and by church people, but he loved God and His word. At 18, Dave told God, “Whatever you want, I’ll do,” accepting what God had for him in ministry.
It was in 2013 that a friend invited Dave to an IPHC retreat, and at a later camp meeting, God told Dave to “stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Grow up and join,” and Dave was ordained in 2014.
God opened the door for Dave to joined Harvest Ministries which was founded in 1916. It was the first Pentecostal church in all of Jacksonville, FL, with just 30 senior citizens in a sanctuary large enough to seat 750 nestled in the middle of an African American, Hispanic, and low-income area. The church is part of the Compassion Network, and when the former pastor suddenly left, Dave was able to jump in with both feet.
It is here that Dave and his wife, Jennifer, strive to create “religion to relationship, racism to unity, poverty to kingdom prosperity, and tradition to passion.” He firmly believes that the diversity of the area strengthens their unity. As we know, Heaven will not be segregated, so Dave works to bring all people together and show them the love of Christ. These beliefs have helped Harvest Ministries grow exponentially. In just four years, the congregation grew from 35 members to 403! However, COVID “just about killed them,” Dave shares because many in their congregation were influenced by outside forces and scared to come together.
In the last few years, they have come back stronger than ever. Dave and Jennifer now lead the main campus in Jacksonville and support two other Harvest Ministries campuses in Florida. As co-pastors, they are passionate about bringing people to Jesus. They are also proud parents of their 16-year-old daughter, Jada. For 12 years, they tried to have children. When they were about to begin the fostering process, Jennifer learned she was pregnant. It was a true miracle, and the proof of a prophetic word they had received in 2006: “you’ll be holding your baby this time next year”. Jada was born in June 2007, and she is active in their music ministry, cheerleading, chaplain of her junior class, and a record-breaking weightlifter for her high school too!
Throughout everything, Joshua 1:7 has helped Dave: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go” (NIV). It is a reminder he hopes to share with everyone: that we must not let our perceptions undermine or disqualify us from what God has promised. God has no capacity for failure. He is not a liar, and He will make it happen,” Dave proclaims.