Ronna Sipes: Firm on sawdust and concrete
Ronna Sipes is a self-professed prissy girl. However, this petite pastor can take on a zip line, mud bog or the mosh pit at a Christian rock concert with the best of them. But she sure hopes she doesn’t break a nail!
Sipes is the youth pastor at Tyler Metro Church between Tyler and Whitehouse. She took quite a rough road to reach this place of service.
Growing up in this area, Sipes spent her childhood on the sawdust-covered floors of tent revivals and evangelical visits all over as her parents brought the message of Christ to thousands.
This spirit-filled family was also very musically talented. Sipes would follow right along those lines as well. One day at her uncle’s house, she made her way to his drum set, climbed up on the stool, took the sticks in hand and a life-long way of worship was born.
“My uncle heard me playing and decided it was more than noise,” Sipes said. “He began to work with me and I’ve been playing drums ever since.”
As a part of their ministry, the whole family led in praise and worship. Her mom played keyboards, dad played guitar, she played the drums and other percussion. Her sister Donna and the others sang. Sipes says she is not a singer.
She married at the age of 18 and moved to Kentucky at the age of 20. There, the ministry she would work in for over 15 years would grow exponentially. As an evangelist, preacher and teacher, Sipes worked long days and nights. On Saturdays, she cleaned the church.
“We discipled the Crabb family for four years,” Sipes said. “The Living Word Church was my covering.”
The Grammy-nominated Crabb Family won a Dove Award and had 16 number one songs on Christian radio charts. Their style of Southern Gospel still reaches thousands even though the siblings have gone their separate ways on the stage.
Little things begin to happen as God prepared to change the course of Sipes’ life. The little things soon became huge and devastating.
“God started confirming my move,” Sipes said. “He opened doors and closed them.”
She returned to Tyler, not knowing what God’s plan was for her.
“I was heartbroken,” Sipes said. “I didn’t know what to do. I stepped away from the ministry for two years and waited on the Lord.”
This time of trials included the breakup of her 15 year marriage.
“I had lost my husband, my home and just about everything except the clothes on my back,” Sipes said. “The Lord gave me a dream that He would show me what true humility was.”
As she made her way through the mire and muck she said she was shown that humility was not a position, it was state of mind.
Following the death of a family member she saw old family friends Jerry and Martha Phelps from Tyler Metro.
“He came to me and said that we needed to talk,” Sipes said. “We talked about many things, including their need for a youth pastor.”
The fact that she had never worked directly with youth or that she had just gone through a crisis of epic propor tion didn’t matter. This was all a part of God’s plan for her life and Pastor Jerry was following his directions.
“When I came to Tyler Metro, Shane had been gone for a couple of years and youth group numbers were down to about 15,” Sipes said. “It is not unusual to have 60- plus here on a Wednesday night Fusion now. You’ll come into that big warehouse with its concrete floors and find kids ever ywhere.”
The doors of Fusion are open to everyone. Sipes says many adults join the kids in their praise and worship time.
“Fusion takes you the way you are,” Sipes said. “Just the way God takes us all.”
Sipes said she is not afraid to let the kids know about the road she has traveled. It lets them know that everything in life is not smooth sailing. It just depends on who you allow to be your guide.
Sipes and her son are loved and served by the family of Tyler Metro and she said she thanks God every day for her blessings and the pitfalls He pulled her out of.
This go-after-it girl is also a sales director for Mary Kay. In her first year she was dubbed Queen of Sales and earned her first car within the first few months of her second year.
“God is adding, meeting the desires of my heart and meeting my needs,” Sipes said. “I know there is so much more to come.”