Biography of Pastor Tonja Williams, YAC Co-Chair
Tonja Williams, born in the spring of 1967 on March 29, is the only child of Miss. Willie Ruth Thompson and oldest child of Mr. Tommie Lee Shelby. Born and raised in the Bible Belt of the South, Pastor Williams is the granddaughter of the late Rev. William J. Thompson and late Rev. Bobby Shelby Sr. She is the niece of Evangelist Clementine Cooper and Minister Rosa Garner.
When she was young, her mom left for a couple of years to get her masters at Florida A & M. During that time, she was raised by her mother’s parents. She was a sickly child with a heart mummer, Childhood Epilepsy, and other childhood illnesses. Her grandparents faithfully took care of her for her mom. They taught her many things which would later help her overcome some major battles in her life. When her mom came home, Pastor Williams was in the third grade. Her mom, being a single parent, wanted the best for her only child so she taught her how to become an independent woman. Her mother left the Baptist Church and became a member of Saint Paul Lutheran Church and for years Pastor William learned under the teaching of a Lutheran Pastor.
During her high school years, Pastor Williams was both a jock and smart child. She participated in many extracurricular activities at school and in the community. Thanks to the openness of her relationship with and fear of her mom, she has always been wise beyond her age.
In 1985, Pastor Williams joined the United States Army Reserve and has faithfully worked her way up through the ranks from a Private to a Major. After serving for over 20 years in 2011, Pastor Williams retired from her military career. There are many similarities in her military life and her Christian walk. Pastor Williams says that she “worked her way up through the ranks from a non-member of the Christian Family to a General in the Army of the Lord.”
All throughout college, she straddled the fence going back and forth. She got pregnant out of wedlock and got married at age 22 when her child was 6 months old. That relationship and marriage produced two beautiful children, April Marquiese and Anthony Montiele Williams, but because of infidelity, ended in disaster. After her marriage ended, she tried to find happiness in the arms of man after man but with no avail, found nothing but heart ache after heart ache.
In 1992, God started revealing to her what his purpose was for allowing her to go through the things she did and live through many life threatening events and that was his desire for her to become a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She did not leave that church but she ignored the word of God on her life. She got pregnant out of wedlock again which began another nightmare. Even though she was going through tough times (no job and no income and living in a home which she could not pay the mortgage for an entire year), God delivered her and blessed her with her miracle child, Jasmine Beaunca Rose Williams, in 1995. While she was carrying Jasmine child, she made up in her mind that her child was not going to come into this world with an unsaved mother, so at the Word Full Gospel Church she rededicated her life to Christ.
Still not excepting the calling on her life, she began to attend Cathedral AME Zion Church under the leadership of Pastor John C. Evens Jr. This church has made such a profound mark on her life and walk with Christ. Due to becoming an active duty soldier, she had to leave Cathedral and go to Seattle where she attended 1St AME. This church was nothing like Cathedral, but it was church and some of the people were very nice. They took her and her three children in, but she was still not getting fed. For this reason, she began attending New Covenant Christian Center and later joined the congregation.
Although she was raised in the Bible Belt of the South, she did not give her life fully to Christ until March 29, 2003 when she and her three children were rebaptized at New Covenant Christian Center in Seattle, WA. The Congregation of New Covenant took her and her family in and made them feel welcome and fed them both physically as well as spiritually. The New Covenant Family has held true to the meaning of family. They helped Pastor Williams in 2002 and 2003 through the loss of 11 close family members and friends all in a year’s time. God continues to allow her New Covenant Family to minister to her and she to them.
In 2003, Pastor Williams moved from Washington to Massachusets, where she began attending New Hope Church in Ayer. She was not being feed. Her voids of leaving Cathedral, New Covenant, and Seattle, losing loved ones (especially her mother’s father who was one of her best friends), and having to come to MA were not being filled, and it overwhelmed her.
In early 2006, Pastor Williams began P.U.S.H (Pray Until Something Happens) Worldwide Ministries and P.U.S.H. Worship Center, Inc. which stands on prayer and believes the word when it says that God inhabits the praises of his people. The ministry’s motto is “Pray Until Something Happens and give God Judah Praise and Worship.”
In 2011, she moved the headquarters of P.U.S.H. Worldwide Ministries and P.U.S.H. Worship Center, Inc. to Jackson, Mississippi which is where it currently operates. In 2014, Pastor Williams joined forces with The Healing Place Ministries under the leadership of Pastors Walter Halbert and Putalamus White Halbert where she is an associate pastor. Moved by the Holy Spirit in 2016, Pastor Williams felt led to focus more on P.U.S.H. Worldwide Ministries and P.U.S.H. Worship Center. P.U.S.H. Worldwide Ministries and P.U.S.H. Worship Center Inc. are continuing to grow internationally while performing outreach ministries worldwide.
Pastor Williams continues to fight the good fight in spite of all the trials, challenges, and attacks that she has faced throughout her journey. After three personal attempts of suicide, addiction to alcohol and prescription medication, being diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Anger Disorder, Anxiety, and Military Sexual Trauma, and being in recovery for three years, Pastor Williams is a living testimony of hard work, dedication, and resiliency.