Personal Testimony

Personal Testimony

As the grandchild and great-grandchild of missionaries to Latin America, most would have expected our home to be very religious. In reality, however, my parents were Sunday morning only Christians. The only times our family attended service were the Sunday morning services, unless there was a special program. My parents also had very little church loyalty, changing churches several times before I was ten years old. My parents were believers, but my father had a bad attitude toward church and ministers because he had the feeling that his parents had cared more about their ministry than their family. In addition, I rarely saw my parents read the Bible except for in church, on Christmas morning, or any time my mom was upset. However, I did often see my father share the gospel with the clients in his photography business. Most of the music in our household was by Christian artists and most of the children’s books I owned were Christian themed. While, obviously, being raised in a Christian home does not make you a follower of Christ, being raised in a Christian home was still a blessing because it allowed me to be exposed to the gospel at an early age.

When I was about five, I was in the Children’s Church program at Christian Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We had just finished singing the song “I’m in the Lord’s Army” and the leader asked if we wanted to be fighting for God or against Him. He asked all of us who wanted to become Christians to raise our hands and then to say a prayer after Him. While I sincerely believe I received salvation on that day, that salvation was in spite of my ignorance. I did not fully understand what salvation meant: I thought it meant that God would take care of me and that He would not punish me for being “bad.” I believed that “being saved” would keep me out of hell, but I did not understand that there is an obligation to salvation.

By the time I was in high school, most people would have said I was an ideal young Christian. I knew that salvation was a gift of God and not anything I deserved, but I did not understand how that affected me. I was an active leader in the youth group, I participated on the Bible Quiz drill team, I was never in trouble at school, I obeyed my parents and I earned good grades. Externally, I looked good; internally, I was doing these things because they made me look good, not for God’s glory. I viewed my salvation as glorified “fire insurance.”

On Thanksgiving weekend in my junior year of high school, I went to a youth retreat where the speaker said, “It is pretentious to call Jesus your savior unless you are also going to make Him your Lord.” I do not know what else this speaker said that weekend, but that one line affected my life. I decided immediately that God would be in control of my life. Externally, very little changed in my life, but internally, I now knew that I would work to follow God’s leading and direction.

Over the next couple of years, I went through a process of discerning how God wanted to use me. In fact, I realized that He had been calling me to this even before I understood what it meant to be a Christian. If you had asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said I wanted to be a physics professor so I could be a secret missionary to the Soviet Union. My love for physics waned, but my love for missions, teaching and pointing people to Christ has grown.

Initially I thought that His call on my life is to work with college students. When I went to seminary, I focused on collegiate ministry, believing this was the best way to reach students for Christ. My mentors, influential people in collegiate ministry such as Max Barnett, John Brooks and Neal Anderson, all pointed me toward collegiate ministry as the best way to influence students for Christ. After seminary, I served two years as a collegiate minister in Michigan and only moved from vocational ministry to volunteer ministry because economic forces in the state caused my funding to dry up. I then went to work teaching computers at a private college. It was during this time, while serving as a bi-vocational Associate Pastor, that I realized that the direction God was leading my life was not into college ministry but into discipling people and helping church members to learn to minister.

On December 20, 2008, I married Amy. The contractual obligations she had as a teacher forced her to stay at her current employer; therefore, I moved from southern Michigan to the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. While I have been involved in ministry during my time up north, both as an Interim Senior Pastor in Grayling, Michigan and now as an Associate Pastor for a church plant in Gaylord, Michigan, I have not felt that I am serving in the ministry where God would have me use the talents He has given me. God has gifted, called and equipped me to pastor. He has given me a passion to preach His word in a relevant expositional manner.

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