"We had went ice skating at a church lock-in, just last year, and he's a great guy," said the teen. "He's real nice. Really cares for the students always willing to be there for us."
Jason Cullum, the church’s lead pastor, sent a letter to its members in which he wrote: "My heart is broken for our students. I personally know what an influence a youth minister can be in a student's life. Friday, January 4 at 4pm, we are inviting all the high school students to the church for a time of prayer here at the Mandarin campus."
The church said it is also offering counseling to any students who may need it.
"It's mind blowing,” said the teenager. “It's so out of the ordinary with his personality. I did speak to one of my friends that went to the lock in with me. It's unbelievable.”
Channel 4 crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson said it's hard to screen out people who don't have prior arrests.
"What you want to look for is, look to see if there are any reports where that person was named as a suspect and was not arrested," Jefferson said. "That way that will give you a red flag that, 'Hey, this person may have an interest in children.'"
Jefferson said sometimes parents have to take an extra step as well.
"Trust but verify," he said. "You've got to follow up with everything and everybody that's involved with your children. You can't just have blind trust and think, 'That's minister so and so. He's alright, he's fine.'"
The arrest also comes as a surprise to Dave Fevez, who lives in Lawson's neighborhood.
"Nice guy. I waved, his wife and him waved back and forth," Fevez said. "But you know, I don't go to church anymore. I used to. They're into that lifestyle, so really nothing in common there."