People say you need to let go of the past to move on to the future but that isn’t always the case. Pastor Scott Billue of Winter Garden is the perfect example of utilizing his past experiences in his present work.
The pastor of Next Community Church, as well as the chairman of the board and founder for Matthew’s Hope – a non-profit organization that helps the homeless – since 2010, Billue is open about how his past shaped his present. He experienced horrific challenges such as his parents’ failed marriages, abuse from a stepparent, addiction, dropping out of high school, homelessness, and hunger. He has come out on the other side knowing what the hard-knock life is. “My background drove me from the stand point of: It wasn’t just enough to recognize what was happening. I did something about it,” says Billue.
On the other hand, he also experienced building a career and making a lot of money. “After dropping out of high school and going through addictions, I got a marketing career,” says Billue. But, the money didn’t fill the void. “I looked at the pay stub, said to myself, ‘Is this it? A pay stub?’”
When he gave up his career, the rest of his life fell into place. “It was one of those things where you felt God tugging, making you aware,” says Billue. “My ‘holy discontent,’ if you will.”
A life-changing moment came during a move. “The woman who owned the property would not agree to sell it to us until she met my children and I went to her church. Someone there said, ‘You should be working with youth.’ I went to seminary and the rest is history,” he says.
Billue received his calling and has been a pastor for 14 years, but he doesn’t stop there. He is also committed to helping others through the Matthew’s Hope ministry. His dedication to the organization and his congregation earned him recognition from the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. Billue was honored with the Bert Roper Award as an acknowledgement of his role as a community champion who has improved the wellbeing and quality of life for others in need. “I have known Scott for 10 years and say, ‘What would Scott do?’ Scott’s faith brought him from his old life. He sets an example for others,” says Ken Alessi.
After seeing both sides of life – having nothing and having it all – Billue is thankful for all he’s
experienced, using it to help others through similar situations. He is proud to say his church is made up of people who have also seen their fair share of struggle. When it comes to his leadership style, he says, “Teach by example. It’s stronger than standing behind a pulpit.”