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Van Cleave

Mark 6:34 “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
Born in the Bronx but a native of Queens NY, Deshawn is a New Yorker at heart. He joined the United States Navy in 1997. In February of 1999, he and a friend encountered a Christian woman who shared her faith in the boldness of the Holy Spirit. Not long after in May of 1999, Deshawn came forward at her church, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, to receive the Lord’s invitation to salvation. A few months after this life-changing event, he met his future wife, Keneshia in June of 1999; however, unfortunately Deshawn had become cold in his walk with the Lord though God would continue to pursue him in many ways until he fully surrendered. Eventually, both he and Keneshia began attending the church where he was born-again. In this time, through the faithful teaching of God’s word, Keneshia also received the Lord. They were married in January of 2000 and baptized together around April of that year.

Calvary Chapel Valdosta is the outcome of many years of confirmation, one giant leap of faith, and many steps of obedience.Fifteen years ago, in 2003, the Lord gave a vision through a dream to Pastor Deshawn, where his eyes were opened for discernment and a commission was given for a people. As two familiar people stood witness to this, he was immediately led to a house where he taught the Word of God as men, women and children poured into the home. Upon waking up from the dream, the Lord gave instant interpretation: he would become a Senior Pastor, the call would be confirmed by others, and he would be led to sheep without a shepherd to teach them the Word of God.

The Lord began to confirm this calling by the Scriptures, through circumstances, and special encounters with various people over time [Jeremiah 32:6-8]. In the meantime, the Lord began to develop and equip him and his family for the call as the saying goes, “God doesn’t call the equipped but equips the called.” In those years, he and his wife served in many ministries gaining valuable experience. From serving on the prayer team, audiovisual support, worship team, marriage ministry, women’s ministry, and teaching bible studies. In May of 2013, the Senior Pastor and the pastoral staff of Calvary Chapel Breath of Life, Maryland, laid their hands on Deshawn confirming the Lord’s call already at work in his life, establishing him as an Associate Pastor of the church.

Fast forward to 2014, as Pastor Deshawn was engaged in his regular morning devotion, Deuteronomy 1:6-7 projected from the text and pressed upon his heart that it was now time to take a leap of faith onward to the vision given 11 years earlier. There were many encounters and circumstances that led to this moment. One instance clearly stands out on a trip back from Georgia in 2009. While stopped at a gas station, an unknown man approached him because of his Maryland license plate. He proceeded to say that he recently moved from Maryland also with all his belongings packed in a car, not having a job or home set up, but everything worked out for him and he didn’t look back. He then ended the conversation abruptly and said, “I gotta go.” He always wondered if this was one of those “entertaining angels” occasions as described in Hebrews 13:2.

In October of 2014, as an act of obedience and faith he resigned his job, packed the car, and set out for Valdosta GA. While signing the lease to rent his home in Maryland, having never met the renters prior to this time, they asked him where were they moving to? Pastor Deshawn gave a vague response by only saying Georgia. To this, the renters said you should check out Valdosta. Both he and his wife were astonished beyond measure because out of thousands of cities in the U.S. these people, who they had never met, mentioned the exact city they were headed to. This conversation would later serve as a spiritual Ebenezer for their faith - a staunch reminder of the Lord’s help and guidance in the journey [1 Samuel 7:12].
Calvary Chapel Valdosta began on a Sunday in August of 2015, in the living room of Pastor Deshawn’s home. Since that time, the church continues to grow focusing on line upon line, verse by verse teaching and practical application from the Word of God. He is fiercely committed to imitating the Good Shepherd’s remedy for weary, scattered, and aimless souls [sheep without a shepherd] as outlined in Mark 6:34. Deshawn’s passion is to ensure the Lord’s people are engaged by His grace, growing in His word, and kept safely in His grip.

Pastor Deshawn has been married to his “rib,” Keneshia, for over 20 years. They have four children: Shanna, Tim, Aaron, and Justus. Their life verse is 2 Corinthians 3:3.

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