July 21, 2012. It is the day Ragland’s Chase Welborn surrendered to the call to preach the Word of God.
By then, he says, it had been on his heart for past 18 months.
“All my life I have wanted to preach,” Welborn said. “I had felt this tugging on my heart for some time now. I was pretty sure it was the Lord; I just wanted to make sure, and that’s why I waited.
Welborn, 17, said he ran for a time, but is glad he stopped running.
“When I did decide to surrender, it felt like a load of pressure lifted off of me,” he said. “I felt a peace about me.”
Welborn is the son of Paul and Tammy Phillips of Ragland. He has two younger brothers and a younger sister.
“I am so proud of Chase,” said his mother Tammy Phillips. “I knew two years ago this was something he was thinking about. 
“He came to us and shared he felt like he might be feeling led to preach, but he wasn’t sure. I advised him to pray about it and if the Lord was really wanting him to preach, he would know it.”
Tammy said she always knew Chase had a gift to work with people.
“He spent a lot of time with my dad and brother this past summer,” Tammy Phillips said. “He had an opportunity to spend some good quality time with them. For him to be a teenager in today’s society, I am extremely proud of this decision he has made to follow the Lord.”
Paul Phillips said he is very proud of Chase, and for the stand he is taking for the Lord.
“I am very proud and honored to be his dad,” Paul Phillips said. 
Bro. Lynn McClain, pastor of Kenwood First Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga., said he is excited about what God is going to do with his grandson Chase.
“This is an answer to prayer, “ McClain said. “I have prayed for Chase since the day he was born that he would follow God’s will. I am so proud that he was called to preach, but even more proud that he surrendered to the call.”
Welborn spent most of the summer in Georgia with his grandparents.
“I talked to my grandfather and my Uncle Michael a lot about it during the summer,” Welborn said. “I just really wanted to make sure that it was not me thinking and that it was really God. 
“About two weeks before I surrendered, I really started feeling the burden. I was unable to sleep at night, and it was something that was on my mind day and night.”
Michael McClain said he was very proud to have a nephew following the Lord’s will for his life.
Welborn said he was at a gospel meeting in Roanoke the night before he surrendered to preach.
“The preacher that night was preaching about being in it for real,” Welborn said. “One of the things he kept saying was, ‘If you can live without preaching, then God is not in it.’ I was told that you would know if God was in it.”
Welborn said he sat there during the entire service uncomfortable, but thinking about it. “The following morning was when I surrendered to God, and it was about 3 a.m.,” he said. “I was unable to sleep. I told the Lord if preaching is what He wanted me to do, then I would be willing to do it.”
At that point and time, Welborn said he felt a peace come over him.
“The burden was still there, but I just felt that peace that I knew this was what God wanted me to do,” Welborn said. “The fire to preach was still there, and still there today. It has turned from a ‘want to’ to a ‘desire.’”
Welborn and his family are members of Fairview Baptist Church #1 in Ragland. Last Wednesday night, he had the opportunity to preach his first sermon there. He will have another opportunity on Sept. 9, during the morning service.
His favorite Bible verse is found in Psalm 27:14 that says, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
Welborn said his grandfather McClain has meant so much to him though the years, and has been a huge inspiration.
“He has been preaching for 42 years now,” Welborn said.
Welborn is a senior at Ragland High School. After high school, Welborn plans on attending Faith Bible Institute in Valley. He also plans to attend Southern Union some as well.
“One day, I would love to be a pastor of a church, but wherever God leads me, that is where I will go,” Welborn said. ”Right now, I am more burdened for teenagers and youth.”