Willie Samuel Foster, III is the fifth child of fifteen children born to Elder and Mother Willie Samuel Foster, II on New Year's Day in 1961. All fifteen children are saved and active in the service of the Lord. Of the twelve sons, eight are ordained elders and two are pastors. Being his father's namesake, 'Lil Willie' was destined to follow in his father's footsteps as a minister of the Gospel. Willie learned about the Lord as a child through the examples set by his parents and the daily prayers and bible teachings conducted in the home by his father. His Father impressed upon the family the importance of faithfulness in serving the Lord. Willie attended Mt. Olive COGIC from childhood where he was also taught Christian discipleship in Sunday school and Sunshine Band.
His father, Elder Foster was suddenly called home to be with the Lord in 1976 leaving Willie's mother, Ceola Foster, to raise the family alone. This did not diminish her dedication to the Lord. She was not defeated. She was a great woman of God and she continued whole-heartedly serve the Lord and faithfully attend church. She encouraged her children to follow God's plan for their lives. One day, while yet a teen, his mother posed the question to him; "Willie, why aren't you saved?" Willie honestly didn't have an answer, but the question prompted him to ponder within himself that evening and he decided to accept Christ as his personal Lord and Savior the following day at Tuesday evening service, May 12, 1978.
While still a student at Ypsilanti High School, he began to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with his classmates, teachers and friends. His teachers were astonished at his enthusiasm, ambition and dedication to his faith in God. They admired him for it. In 1979, he graduated from Ypsilanti High School with academic honors and attended Huron Valley trade school to study computer circuitry and advanced electronic technology. He later attended Washtenaw Community College-Liberal Arts and Sciences where he received certification for ISO 9000 and QS 9000 Quality Systems. After many years, he is still employed at Variety Manufacturing Corporation of Dexter as an Internal Quality Systems Auditor where he shares the "Good News" of Christ to many including the company leadership.
Elder Foster acknowledged the call by God to the ministry as a Gospel Evangelist in 1981. By 1989, he was ordained as an elder by the late Bishop Willie Leroy Harris. As time progressed so did Elder Foster's ministry. He became active in prison and jail outreach as well as ministering in convalescent homes in various locations throughout Michigan. Teaching the "Growing in Grace" class for new members, evangelizing, preaching and running revivals in various places were also an active part of his ministry. He later served as teacher of the young minister's class for training upcoming ministers. Elder Foster also served in District #11 under the leadership of the late Supt. Willie E. Sheard as District Evangelist, Christian Education Department President and as a member of the finance team. Today he serves as District Chairman under the leadership of Superintendent Willie J. Powell, Pastor of Grace Fellowship COGIC of Ypsilanti.
Elder Foster discovered 'love' right in his local church, Sister Sherrie Ann (Sheryl) Robinson. They were married on April 16, 1988. First Lady Sheryl Foster is a great support to him and the ministry. Sheryl is creative and enjoys outreach. She developed and spearheaded the Ann Arbor Gospel Festival that continued for eight years before its demise when the change in local law prevented amplified music in the park. She loves to engage women in activities that encourage and develop their Christian potential. In 2008, she spearheaded the first ever women's conference at Abundant Harvest, "Everyday Living for the Christian Woman". In 2015, her “Ladies Tea” was a hit with the women of Abundant Harvest Church; a great time of fellowship. In 2016, she instituted Annual Missions Day where long-time missionary, Dolly Milfort, spoke of her challenging ministry in Haiti. Sister Sheryl has a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and is a business owner in the social work field lending her gifts to help those who are most vulnerable. In addition to the mission projects she spearheads, she serves on the Praise Team.
The Lord showed great favor and blessed Pastor Willie and First Lady Sheryl with two beautiful daughters, Amber Joy and Charity Grace. Amber and Charity assist the ministry as members of the Compassion Team, Youth Advisory Board and Announcements. Amber also serves on the Finance Team. Amber graduated from the University of Michigan Dearborn in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in Anthropology. She is now pursuing her masters. Amber aspires to become a CEO of a non-profit that serves mentally and physically challenged individuals. From childhood she has felt the calling to be a catalyst for change to this population of people. Charity is a freshman at Grand Valley State University studying to become a Hospitalist, one who helps patients’ reach full wellness by coordinating with other medical specialist to create an individualized plan. As a Hospitalist, Charity will live out her passion to help others every day, witness and spread the news of Jesus Christ to each patient.
With much study and prayer, Pastor Foster is blessed with the gift of rich and accurate teaching of the gospel. He is a true man of God! Consecrated and dedicated from his youth, our Pastor has led his congregation in the face of challenges and changes with an eye that is steady reaching for the high calling in Christ Jesus; steadfast and unmovable. Our small ministry has not deterred his professional growth as a pastor, nor his dedication to sanctification, study and prayer. Our pastor is truly gifted in his teaching, retention and exhortation of the Word of God. He is known to recite entire chapters of the bible in a sermon. He has an amazing memory and is accurately able to quote and explain an abundance of scriptures while sharing the history of the bible in Hebrew and Greek. Pastor Foster truly believes that every one person his ministry can reached has the potential to change the world. Our church history reveals this truth. Members that have moved on to other ministries have become leaders in their own right - ministers, pastors, missionaries, musicians – making a difference wherever they are. This is our Pastor’s greatest legacy –leading people to Christ and encouraging them to become true disciples at home and abroad. Pastor Foster is the leader and teacher of our weekly Christian Education: Bible Study.
With both joy and sorrow in 2004, Elder Foster celebrated the beautiful Christian life and legacy of his mother who went to be with the Lord. Elder Willie S. Foster, III's ministry is a testimony and the fruit of both his mother and father's saved life in Christ. He continues their legacy teaching the Word and leading others to Christ - to the Glory of God!
Pastor Willie Foster’s resolve is steadfast and totally dedicated to the work of the Lord. He is determined to see the ministry continue the great commission as stated by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV):
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
See Church History for more details.