Every Sunday in California little Dhati Lewis watched his father, Reggie Lewis, play football and proudly cheered him on. With a professional football player as a dad, Dhati got to live the life that few know—he had everything he could dream of as a child. Then when Dhati was in fifth grade, his father was cut from the team, leaving the Lewis’ with no money. They were soon on welfare and his parents were divorced.
But, the Lord gifted Dhati with his father’s talent in football, and he began using it at the age of five. As he grew older, football became Dhati’s god, guiding him in all his decisions and feelings.
“I didn’t smoke, I didn’t drink, I didn’t do all those things because of football. When football was going good, I was excited, but when it was going bad, I was depressed and frustrated because that’s what gave me value in life.”
After high school, some smaller colleges offered football scholarships to Dhati, but he wanted to play football for a large school, so he decided to not play for a while and attend community college in California. That’s when he hit a low point in his life.
“I really didn’t know what to find my significance in, partly because as a child my Sundays were spent watching my dad instead of in church. I really went through a period of searching.”
Dhati studied Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and other religions trying to find the truth. One day his friend’s mother bought him his first Bible. Continuing his search, he started reading the book of Matthew. The summer going into his sophomore year he began attending a Christian church.
“I remember people always going down to the altar at the end of the sermons to accept Christ, and I always wanted to do it, but I was scared. Then one day before church started I decided that I would walk down the aisle and give my life to Christ the next Sunday. I don’t know what the pastor talked about that Sunday because I was so excited about getting to walk down.”
That day he accepted Christ as his Savior. Dhati soon got a football scholarship to the University of North Texas (UNT) and transferred there in January of his sophomore year. At UNT he met Christians who lived out their beliefs in a way he hadn’t seen before.
Gradually, the Lord started shifting Dhati’s goals from being a professional football player to working in full-time ministry. The first game of his senior year served as a pivotal point in Dhati’s life.
“I had this shoulder injury that kept coming back, and I remember playing against Vanderbilt University when I got hit, and my shoulder popped out again. It was at that time that I realized that these were the last eleven games that I would get to play serious football. And the funny thing was that I had a peace about it.”
A few years earlier in Denton, Dhati and some of his friends saw a need among those in the African-American community that was not being met by other Christian groups on his college campus, so they started a ministry called Men of Virtue and Excellence. Through that he saw his passion for ministry.
“We wanted to create a ministry that was both culturally relevant and doctrinally sound—it was an African-American ministry. I would go to every Christian meeting available on campus where they would teach the Word because I felt like I didn’t know anything. I saw a need among my friends when I would ask them to come, but because the meetings were with predominately white organizations, they wouldn’t feel comfortable, or would feel like it was not culturally relevant to them.”
So as Dhati’s life started turning toward ministry, he continued to recognize that need again and again. He then started working with Impact, a ministry of Campus Crusade that reaches out to African-Americans. After participating in Impact for a while, Dhati began to recognize the importance of connection with a local church. He had been attending Denton Bible Church, and wanted to start a ministry similar to Impact, but with Denton Bible Church as the sponsoring, home church.
Pastor Tommy Nelson backed Dhati’s vision and in 2001, Plumbline was launched on the UNT campus. They started meeting Sunday afternoons and then attending a night service together at the church. It has grown tremendously in the past two years.
In the 2001-2002 school year Dhati also entered and completed Tommy Nelson’s discipleship program. This led him through his decision to start Plumbline and also confirmed his desire for seminary training. Upon completion of the discipleship program Dhati enrolled in the Th.M. program at DTS with a dual emphasis in historical theology and pastoral leadership.
Dhati would love to plant a church with an emphasis on community and discipleship. His passion is to reproduce men through discipleship, and college students are his main focus.
“Wherever we plant a church it will have to be near a college because I think that college students are the best to minister to. They have the most time, they are willing, and they are the most radical about what they’re doing.”
Dhati is married to Angela—they have a daughter named Trinity and are expecting another baby girl in December.
The mission of Dallas Theological Seminary is to
glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders
for the proclamation of His Word and the
building up of the body of Christ worldwide.