Having Faith in Joshua DuBois

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - What may at first glance appear to be a boring desk job is anything but. 

At just 27-years-old, Joshua DuBois heads up the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and Neighborhood Partnerships.  

"I pop over to the West Wing - I don't know - about five or six times a day," DuBois told CBN News.

He may be young, but don't underestimate his ability or clout.  

Just look at the scorecard: He helped secure Rick Warren to pray at the president's inauguration. He set up the meetings between then candidate Obama and big names such as T.D. Jakes and Franklin Graham.  

Whether it's searching for a presidential church home, pushing for common ground on abortion or, even texting President Barack Obama Bible verses every morning, DuBois is central to it all. 

A Well-Rounded Faith Upbringing

DuBois spent a good chunk of his life in Nashville, Tenn., a place he considers home. But even though DuBois works for a president with some liberal tendencies, his upbringing was really anything but liberal. In fact, the home at times was filled with Focus on the Family radio broadcasts and the conservative Evangelical "Psalty the Singing Song Book."

"I'm not going to hum anything for you," DuBois laughs. "I'm sorry."

With an infectious laugh and a work ethic second to none, DuBois comes to Nashville for relaxation. Call it a beltway detox treatment.

Growing up, his family life was filled with many Christian influences.

"Whether it was listening to Focus on the Family or David Jeremiah or the 'Psalty the Songbook' tapes - [there were] just a lot of really positive influences and reinforcements around me in really helping to shape my perspective."

His parents made sure of that.

"God is the center of our lives," said DuBois's mom. "Christ is who we are committed to."

And DuBois was getting the full spectrum of faith perspectives. His dad is a pastor with the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

"Joshua was also exposed to various teachings from various perspectives simply because our life so centered around the church," DuBois's dad said. 

DuBois and Christ Get Personal

DuBois's journey may have started in a Christian home, but it wasn't until college that the idea of a relationship with Jesus actually took off.

"Although I had grown up in the church - as with many folks - [I] sort of had a path away from Christ and my pastor really sort of led me into an intimate relationship with Christ. And so it was a really formative period in my life."

That's when it became truly personal.

"I think it was taking me away from sort of the formulism of religion as opposed to the intimacy of relationship and so it was just sort of exploring what God wanted for me and for my life," DuBois said. 

Ministry or Politics?

He eventually became an associate pastor in the Boston area, earned a master's degree at Princeton, and gained a thirst for social justice.

DuBois found himself trying to choose between ministry and politics when in 2004, he heard a speech that made the difference.

"We worship an awesome God in the Blue States," Obama said at the 2004 DNC Convention.

That line did it: a candidate who saw a life where faith and politics can - and do - intersect. After much persistence, he began working for then Sen. Obama. It eventually led to becoming faith director of his 2008 presidential campaign.

Early in the campaign, DuBois would hold faith town halls where just a few dozen people would show up. His team's mission was to convince people one at a time that faith matters in public policy.

Now as Obama's faith director, the crowds are larger, the stage is bigger but the message is still faith-centered.

The Challenges Ahead

To say this job is not without challenges would be a major understatement. DuBois realizes the president has plenty of critics.

"We have to throw our doors wide open and find common ground with folks from all across the spectrum, and so these are healthy conversations," DuBois said.

"Now there are points of disagreement of course," he acknowledged. "We're not going to gloss over the fact that we may not agree with every organization about everything, but there are a lot of points of agreement as well."

Reducing the number of abortions is a priority and DuBois sees increasing incentives for adoption as part of a common ground solution.

"We've concluded the set of meetings and now we're just kind of compiling it and getting ready for the president, and then he will eventually talk about where he thinks we should be going," DuBois said.

So while DuBois plugs away for the commander-in-chief at his dream job, his parents back in Nashville say a familiar prayer.

DuBois's mom said, "From the time Joshua was born I prayed for his protection and I pray for his wisdom that he will hear God and that he will follow his direction."

*Originally aired August 27, 2009

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David Brody

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David Brody is an Emmy Award-winning veteran news journalist who has interviewed many prominent national figures during his career of nearly 25 years. Currently, David covers the White House and interviews national newsmakers across the country.  Follow David on Twitter @TheBrodyFile and "like" him at Facebook.com/TheBrodyFile.