After more than two decades on the job, meteorologist Austin Caviness is preparing to trade in his green screen for a pulpit.
Caviness recently announced that he’ll be leaving behind his 23-year broadcasting career to become the pastor of Salem Fork Christian Church in Dobson, North Carolina — a decision he says came after much time, prayer and introspection.
Since the announcement hit local and national outlets, Caviness told TheBlaze that he has been “blown away” by how much he sees “God being glorified” through his surprising career change.
“That’s just part of what’s going on here,” he said. “It’s just a great example of every little thing we are willing to do when we kind of let go of our own understanding of things and we let go of our comfort zone and inching in our lives.”
Caviness, who believes that Lord has led him on this path, will officially vacate his meteorology position at the end of May, entering the next phase of his professional life as pastor of Salem Fork Christian Church, a small congregation with fewer than 100 members.
From Meteorologist to Christian Preacher
While he’s finally about the take the plunge, Caviness said he would have done it much earlier if not for his belief in abiding by God’s timetable instead of his own.
“I really wanted to [leave] several years ago. Working in the TV field can be frustrating. It doesn’t always seem to be as fair as it used to be,” he explained. “The more I was willing to trust in the Lord, what I sensed from him was, ‘No, you follow me, I’m making you a minister where you are.’”
So, Caviness continued working in media despite his itch to get into ministry. Despite his qualms and his desire to leave, he praised WXII-TV, his employer, and said that vacating his position is a difficult choice, but one he now believes God wants for his life.
When Salem Fork, a Church he had been building a relationship with, began inquiring about him becoming pastor, he knew he had was at an important crossroads.
“It became apparent that as committed as I am to doing my job of being a weatherman, sharing in the community … trying to be all the Lord made me to be in that capacity, when all the sudden a new opportunity presents itself, it’s, ‘Wait, I’m not going to be able to do both,’” Caviness said. “When I realized that was the tipping point I was facing, it began to hurt inside.”
Watch an inspirational weight loss news segment featuring Caviness back in 2012:
Caviness said he realized that becoming a pastor was what God wanted while he was in the car one day on his way to film a segment for the station. As he drove, he noticed a Bible verse displayed on a sign outside of a church.
“On my way to the story that’s when I saw the scripture in Matthew 6 and it said, ‘Hey you can’t serve two masters,’” he told TheBlaze. “And then I was like, ‘Lord I’m going to have to give this up aren’t I?’”
The scripture Caviness references, Matthew 6:24, reads, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
After that, he knew it was time to enter full-time ministry — a decision that actually took him decades to arrive at.
Caviness’ Long Faith Journey
Despite first becoming a Christian when he was just 8 years old, Caviness said that he drifted away from the faith after his parents divorced during his senior year of high school. Later, he flunked out of college and went through what he called some “prodigal years.”
“I stopped living the lordly way and decided to live the worldly way for a while,” Caviness said, noting that despite drifting away from his childhood faith, God continued to tug at his heart, giving him “little reminders to come back home.”
Here’s a 2011 sermon he delivered on mothers:
He eventually got his broadcasting degree, got married and started a family, accomplishing the dreams to which he had always aspired. Church, too, gradually became a part of his life again, though he said bittiness from the past still ate away at him.
While he struggled at moments, Caviness said that it was the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that truly knocked him back into spiritual gear, as he subsequently rededicated himself to both God and the Christian faith.
“I grabbed the Bible that my father had given me years ago…I wiped the dust off and I started reading,” he said. “Those dots started connecting and all the sudden I realized we do make mistakes and those mistakes do lead to consequences that are not pleasant.”
Caviness continued, “What Jesus did on that cross, that personal power that it gives us, I realized, ‘Wow he did that for me.’”
Since then, he has been more than a friendly face delivering the local weather forecast; he’s been an outspoken voice sharing his testimony and faith in local churches.
Speaking Out on TV and at the Pulpit
Caviness recalled speaking for the first time at an outdoor church service where a few hundred people had assembled to listen.
“I was thinking the normal thoughts, ‘I’m on TV — I don’t know about this,” he admitted. “[But] the second I stepped on that stage I had a love for that entire audience that I have never felt in my life.”
It was then that Caviness said he felt God urging him to share his personal story. And he’s continued to do so every since, with people often going to church just to hear what the weatherman has to say about spiritual matters.
Feeling called by God, Caviness studied independently and was “ordained” a year and a half ago after spending a great deal of time learning about and analyzing Christian theology — what he called “the central truth of the gospel.”
Caviness is ecstatic to begin his new journey, noting that his path shows him that “faith is still alive in America today.”
“[God] opening the door for me all these years and being able to preach what the Lord has put on my heart has shown me, boy is faith still alive in America today,” he said. “And it has nothing to do with the size of the church or the number of people in the pews. Jesus started with 12 and look what he did with them.”