(WJHL) — Career plans often change and evolve, and that’s the case for this week’s Community Hero. He says his faith led him in a different direction, and for that he is thankful.
Billy Wayne had a plan. Years ago, he was passionate about the theatre and was performing in Pigeon Forge.
“I knew that God was calling me to something deeper, and to go to the road and do evangelism, and work with hurting kids, a lot of kids I worked with,” Wayne said.
So, he changed direction and worked in traveling ministry and as a musical artist. But, Wayne says God had a different timeline for him.
“It chooses you,” he said. “Your ministry chooses you. I think the things you have been through in your life, the scripture tell us that, you know, comfort those with the comfort you have been comforted with. So, I’ve had a lot of people along the way who have been great encouragers to me there in the Tri-Cities.”
Wayne has grown his ministry, opening the Lamplight Theater which promotes family and Christian values.
“Theatre has always been a part of my life, as well as music,” he explained. “So, I’ve had to marry the two: traveling and singing and being at the theater, and directing and writing productions. It’s really something that evolved. It wasn’t something that was planned. I thought ‘maybe’, you know, and we’re here now.”
For 30 years, his Hope And Love Outreach, or HALO program, has hosted a summer camp for kids who are hurting or in need of guidance, thanks to community and business support. The organization supports kids all year.
“We also mentor them throughout the year, and pour into their lives,” he said. “The HALO program that we have that sponsors the camp, we also give them book bags or backpacks, school supplies, and a Comfort And Joy Christmas for them and their families. So, it’s all year-round that we want to make sure we’re involved in those students’ lives.”
Wayne says community involvement is paramount to building a healthy future.
“We’re raising citizens. I mean, that’s what we’re doing. If we can invest in those students’ lives at a young age and make them feel that they’re important,” he said. “I always tell students, don’t ever use people or things in your past as an excuse not to rise up and be everything that you’re supposed to be. But they can’t do that unless the community gets involved and sees the necessity of pouring into students’ lives.”
Wayne says although this wasn’t his initial plan, he is exactly where he is supposed to be.
“It’s just been a beautiful thing,” he said. “Nothing that I expected to do. But, it’s one of those things where it’s so exciting to serve a God that keeps you kind of on the edge, and makes sure that you’re trusting Him. It’s a God-sized thing, so He gets all the credit. We’re just hanging out with Him and letting it happen.”