Utah Taylor-Rolle is a self-professed former thug. He confesses to having lived a troubled life in his first 34 years – selling drugs, gang involvement and an inability to be faithful to one woman. Twelve years later, he is senior pastor at New Oasis of Love Kingdom Ministries, and was recently given an honorary doctorate of theology degree from Grace International Bible University, where he is currently studying toward a theology degree.
Because of what he’s been through, Rolle, 46, says God has placed a calling on his life to work to restore the family. He says he is working assiduously to fulfill his mission. He has no better example to pull from than the life he once led.
“I realized that I went through those troubles and trials so I would have a testimony, so that I could be able to teach and help others who are going through the same things,” says Taylor-Rolle. “I didn’t have a mentor, and I didn’t have a father, so my whole purpose right now is to reach out to the young wayward men out there and try to restore the family – not just to mend, but the restoration of the family, marriage, etc.”
Taylor-Rolle says young men do not have to make the same mistakes he did.
“In life, you don’t have to go through the experience in order to understand or do better. I actually overnighted in prison (because his bail did not get signed in time) because of me acting out because of not having a father in my life. There was a void in my life, and trying to fill that void, I joined gangs, was selling drugs. I use this example to tell young boys they don’t have to go through this sort of stuff. I know what they go through, so I try to be there to help them because it ain’t easy.”
Taylor-Rolle chalks up his less-than-stellar youthful years to not having his father in his life to serve as a mentor. Little did he know, the father he was searching for was the deputy superintendent of the prison. His father also didn’t know about Taylor-Rolle; he didn’t know he had a son.
When he found his father at age 34, he turned out to be Reverend Dr. Charles E. Rolle, senior pastor at Mt. Nebo Union Baptist Church, and also the deputy superintendent of what was then Her Majesty’s Prison (now the Bahamas Department of Corrections).
When Taylor-Rolle found his father, he said, he wasn’t really interested in God or church. Having been saved before, but having back-slid, he certainly wasn’t living the life of a saved man. He says he was more interested in developing a relationship with his dad, and because he was seeking that relationship and connection, he would attend church.
The by-product of finding and working to develop a relationship with his dad, meant that he heard God’s call on his life to become an apostle, who he says is someone who is sent out to bring orders to churches.
“God had always called me to ministry, and being in church, I ended up answering the call. I went to my father and told him, but told him I still wasn’t living right. I had a weakness… I like women, and he told me, ‘If you waiting to be perfect, you will never start. You have to take that first step; and once you take that first step, then deliverance will come on all the other vices that you have.’ So, I took that first step and it was just amazing,” said Taylor-Rolle.
Besides Grace International Bible University, Taylor-Rolle, who has done most of his studies online, has also engaged in courses at New Covenant University, New Covenant School of Theology Training Institute and Biblical Training College.
He says it was recommended to him to make application for the honorary doctorate degree, as it would “open more doors” for him.
An honorary doctoral degree is often awarded in recognition of a person’s life experiences. The degree is bestowed as an honor rather than through the completion of certain academic requirements.
Taylor-Rolle’s honorary doctorate was bestowed on Father’s Day, June 21.
“Titles don’t really mean nothing to me because I know my purpose and I know my calling. I didn’t even really want to follow the path of Christ – but that was my path, and I couldn’t avoid it. This is my purpose.”
Taylor-Rolle is also the author of the book “The Tears I Cried” in which he recounts what he went through in search of his father.
He is also director of media for Pastors of Prayer International and a member of GUF (Global United Fellowship).
Taylor-Rolle also hosted his former TV show, “Controversy TV.”
Even though he’s been consecrated an apostle, he remains a member of the Sting Junkanoo group and produces their yearly music video.
Like Joshua, his favorite saying is: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”