In November 2020, Selwyn Davis’s life came full circle. Thirty years prior, Davis — then a U.S. Marine — converted to Islam while stationed at Camp Pendleton, a military camp near San Diego. Last year, Davis returned to San Diego to learn how to plant a church.
“Islam was the most attractive thing that was presented to me at the time,” says Davis, 49. After his father died when Selwyn was 12 years old, Davis longed for a sense of community and brotherhood. He joined the Marines at 17, and became active in Islam while stationed in Okinawa, Japan. In Okinawa, Davis found the sense of brotherhood and belonging that he craved.
In San Diego, he stayed heavily involved in Islam for more than 15 years. Then he felt drawn back to the Christian faith of his youth.
“Islam was what I needed at the time, but my mother and father raised me in the church,” he says. His father attended a Baptist church and his mother raised him in the Pentecostal church to which she belonged. While converting to Islam involved searching for answers and a sense of identity, Davis couldn’t escape his upbringing.
“The Bible says to train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” Davis says, referencing Proverbs 22:6. “It was a matter of me coming to myself and realizing that Christ is the answer.”
In 2007, Davis gave his life to Christ after attending two church services with a friend, who had been inviting him to go for six months.
“God had been tugging on me for some time,” Davis remembers.
After he became a Christian, Davis wasted no time sharing the good news with those around him. He invited his friend, Debra R. Edwards, to attend services with him.
“Selwyn encouraged me to go to church with him,” says Edwards, 60. “I was a Christian, but I wasn’t attending church at the time.” Davis was instrumental in her return to church, and they served alongside one another in ministry for several years.
“Selwyn has a genuineness about him that, if he really believes in something, he will give it his all,” says Edwards. “He is just as dedicated as a Christian as he was as a Muslim.”
Davis believes that his years in the other faith taught him important lessons that have helped him in his Christian walk.
“My time in Islam taught me how to go after the lost,” says Davis. “A lot of times, we can be very judgmental of people instead being friendly and trying to win them over.”
In 2008, Davis relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, and continued to grow in his faith. There he reconnected with Cassandra, a friend from high school. They wed in 2011 and eventually added two more children to their blended family of five. Their marriage hasn’t been without challenges.
In 2012, after the birth of their daughter Skylar, Cassandra started experiencing headaches that concerned her doctors because Cassandra had suffered a brain aneurysm in 2007. In 2013, the Davises welcomed their son, Israel, born with Down syndrome and a heart condition that required surgery when he was just 4 months old. Shortly after Izzy’s birth, Cassandra’s physicians discovered she had another aneurysm that required an operation.
“That was a trying time for us, but we kept serving in the church,” Davis says. “Who we are is a testament to never giving up no matter what.”
Not long after his conversion, Davis started sensing a call to ministry, specifically to plant a church. A friend suggested that he look into the AG’s Church Multiplication Network.
Established by the Assemblies of God Executive Presbytery in 2008, the Church Multiplication Network serves as a resource for new church planters. CMN has facilitated the launch of more than 4,000 congregations.
“I had never even heard of CMN,” says Davis. A CMN team member responded to his inquiry and encouraged him to join a CMNU cohort. CMNU is an eight-week training program designed for those who are exploring their call to church planting.
In November 2020, Davis returned to San Diego with Cassandra to attend CMN Launch, a three-day event for church planters who are close to launching. The couple are looking forward to launching Servant Church in Charlotte in September.
“CMNU changed the trajectory of our lives,” Davis says.
Davis is grateful to CMN for believing in him and investing in his calling.
“I have found a tremendous amount of support with CMN,” says Davis. “Society makes people feel like after a certain age, it’s time to give up on dreams, but it’s never too late. As long as I have breath in my lungs and the power and passion to preach the gospel, age shouldn’t stop me.”