I was born James Nathaniel Graves Jr. but growing up, I was affectionately known as Lil’ Nate, while my father was known to all as Big Nate. Being a junior sometimes comes with its own identity issues but my parents were intentional in how they shaped my early years. First they chose to dedicate my life to the work of the Lord just as Samuel’s mother did for him in scripture. The second thing they did was choosing a name that reflected God’s purpose for my life. Even though my father and I share the same name we do not share the same destiny. James means one who Surpasses and Nathaniel means Gift of God and as you will soon see I live out my name. The final component that set me up for success was an environment of prayer. They covered my life and decisions in prayer.
I began my years of ministry in the red bricked store front building that housed my grandfather’s North Philadelphia congregation, Mitchell Baptist Church. There I accepted Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior at the early age of 6 and immediately began serving the Lord as an usher. I soon went from being an usher to directing music by the age of 11. Growing up the son and grandson of pastors, I was exposed at an early age to the ups and downs of ministry and despite its challenges I still answered the call.
In the early years of my father’s ministry, as an associate pastor, I was called on to provide worship music for services when my father went out to speak. This meant me and my siblings as well as my mother had to be prepared to serve at a moment’s notice. Many times rehearsals took place in the car on the way to church as we figured out what songs to sing and which sibling would play the piano. It was in these moments that I learned how to improvise and think on my feet and depend on the Lord to help me through difficult times.
Soon after, I would be introduced to a man that challenged my perception of ministry forever. My high school music director, Raymond Fitzsimmons, took me under his wing and shaped me as a musician, a leader, an educator, an administrator and a man of God. The disciplines I learned from Mr. Fitzsimmons would carry me throughout my career. Eventually, it opened the door for me to be mentored by Dr. Alfred Lunde, Dean Emeritus of the School of Music at Carin University (formerly Philadelphia Biblical University) who in turn opened the door for me to grow in my gifts throughout my university years until today.
Presently, I am a member of the Worship Center under the leadership of Pastor Matt Mylin located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I am currently preparing to return to Vienna, Austria to serve as a Global Partner, where he will serve with Vienna Christian Center spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
Life Achievements & Highlights
- 1980 Accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior
- 1992 First Missions trip with American Christian Youth Chorale (ACYC)
- 1995 Director of A Few of God’s Children, Gospel Choir-Cairn University
- 1997 Director of Worship, Harvest Church, Pennsauken, NJ
- 1998 My mentor and First Pastor Rev. E.C. Graves Jr. was graduated into glory
- 2000 Pastor of Worship & Youth Ministries, Immanuel Bible Church, Freehold, NJ
- 2005 Begin ministering at Grace Point Church, Newtown, PA
- 2005 Began several missions trips to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina Relief
- 2006 Missions work in Naples, Italy with the Faulkners
- 2007 Missions work in Bridesburg, PA with Real Life Church
- 2011 Graduation from Cairn University
- 2011 AMTC (Actors Models & Talent Christ) Role Model Award Recipient
- 2012 Joined the Cast of Jonah at Sight & Sound Theatres
- 2012 Began attending the Worship Center, Lancaster, PA
- 2013 Performed in the show Noah at Sight & Sound Theatres
- 2014 Performed in the show Moses at Sight & Sound Theatres
- 2015 The Journey back to the call of ministry that was first given to me
- 2016 Spoke at the TNT Junior High Fall Retreat on Spiritual Identity: Who Am I?
- 2017 First trip to Vienna, Austria with Worship Center Team
- 2018 Early January, I had an eye surgery that brought back my sight! PTL!
- 2018 Scouting trip to Vienna, Austria to make sure this is where the Lord wants me to serve.
- 2019 January 11th, spoke at Calvary Homes about Missions work being done in Vienna, Austria
- 2019 June 9th , Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Immanuel Bible Church, Howell, NJ
- 2019 September 1-3 , Trip to Dallas Texas
- 2019 September 8 , Food, Faith and Fellowship talk at the Gonzalez home in New Holland, PA
- 2019 October 4-6 , Spoke at the TNT Junior High Fall Retreat on Discovering My Identity in Christ
- 2019 October 20 , Meet the Missionary in the Heritage Room at the Worship Center in Lancaster, PA
- 2020 January 1st , New Year’s Service and Celebration, New Holland, PA