A religious conversion: From the courtroom to the pulpit

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The sign outside Emmanuel Baptist Church in Ocean Springs says it best: Welcome Brother Hillman.

Heath Hillman is a friendly man, greeting his congregation with a smile. He was a lawyer for more than 10 years. Now he's a preacher. Why the change?

"I wasn't happy. I was successful, but I wasn't happy. This has made be happy," Hillman said. "I think this is what I'm supposed to be doing."

A heavenly calling helped the process along.

"I finally reached the point where God dealt with me and he said 'you know, you've done this I've given you the time to do this. You've got some great experience, now it's time for you do what I have planned for your life and that is to be a pastor,'" Hillman recalled.

His new job brings joy to his life. That joy comes from a thankful flock that believes in his message.  They are glad he's found a new calling.

Wallace Easley is a church member.

"He's just a wonderful guy. We just fell in love with he and his wife and wonderful family and look forward to a long tenure here with this church," Easley said.

His wife Diane, agreed.

"It's pretty amazing. He talks to you like you're the only one there and just speaks straight to your heart and there's just a lot of love that comes out of him that surprises all of us," Diane explained.

Now you might think the profession of being a lawyer, as opposed to being a pastor would make them worlds apart. But that's not necessarily true. You see, the lawyer has to make believers out of a jury, and a pastor has to make believers out of a congregation.

"There's a great deal of human interaction," the pastor said. "There's a great deal of trying to help people with their problems and to try and help people find their way through issues so I think a lot of the same skill sets apply."

This is the his first job as a pastor and Hillman is very thankful for the opportunity.

"Emmanuel was very kind to give me a shot and we met at length about that Emmanuel was looking to call someone and they were willing to take a chance on me," Hillman said.

And judging from the congregations initial reaction, it was a chance well worth taking.

Pastor Hillman, his wife, and two daughters currently live in Hattiesburg. They are in the process of selling their home and plan to move to Ocean Springs in the near future.

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