Pastor forgoes career in athletic training to minister to students
Omari Head is easy to approach, easy to talk to, but impossible to interview for a feature story. He takes an interview as he takes most things in life — as an opportunity to compliment and lift other people up. Talking about himself is the last thing on his mind.
Students silently walk on the stage and rhythmically move to the beat of “Brother” by NeedToBreathe. They dance as if telling the Gospel with their feet. Sixty or so kids from the Kate Ross Apartments, low-income public housing near Acts Church in Waco, watch the college students in complete silence — a rarity.
Head, the college pastor at Acts Church, stands just out of sight with his hands crossed, smiling like this performance was his first time seeing a Broadway show. When you walk into Catalyst, a local spring break mission trip organized by Head, you won’t see him up on the stage much — and not for lack of charisma.
“The first thing I ask someone is, ‘What do you love to do?’” he said.
Head seeks to illuminate the light of others, and everything he says can be read with a lingering exclamation point. He doesn’t say anything half-heartedly.
“He goes above and beyond in every way. He’s not a guy that it matters how many hours he works,” said David Booker, lead pastor of Acts Church.
Head’s supposed “off-time” mirrors these words, considering he lives with six male college students in a discipleship house near Baylor campus as part of his ministry.
“I live with my college pastor,” said San Antonio junior Trevor Taylor. “I never thought about it, that I literally wanted to do that. I would have been upset if I didn’t get to live with my college pastor.”
After college, Head interned with the Seattle Seahawks football team as an athletic trainer. He eventually turned down a full-time job with the Seahawks to move back to Kansas.
Head ended up in Waco studying at Truett Seminary, fully realizing God’s call on his life into ministry, he said.
“We spend too much time on things that we’re not passionate about in order to feel more well-rounded,” Head said.
He now leads a college service for students, started a discipleship house with college men and put an outreach program on the path to success.
“He doesn’t just say, ‘This is what we need to do.’ He does it,” said Donnell Smith, Head’s close friend and colleague.
When Smith began working with the Kate Ross community, it was primarily her and her son. She started a program called “Kidz Jam,” which involved visiting the complex on Wednesdays with snacks and games to invest in the kids from the Kate Ross community.
“Omari saw the need here,” said Round Rock senior Emily Phillips.
The program grew from 10 kids to 60 kids. Head fought to keep the program alive as people questioned the sustainability of Catalyst. The college students used to travel to Florida for missions, but Head was convinced the real mission was here in Waco, Smith said.
“We need to be here,” Head told the college students.
The community has held onto the Kate Ross housing as they have seen paradigm shifts in thinking.
“It’s about loving people consistently, and Omari embodies that,“ Phillips said. “He’s really authentic even when he doesn’t want to be.”
Smith said she agrees.
“I’m telling you, it’s all Omari,” she said.
Story by: Allie Matherne | Reporter
Photos by: Skye Duncan | Lariat Photo Editor