Being the fourth child in a family of six boys made my life interesting. If I was not in a fight with my older brothers then there was a good chance that I was fighting with my younger brothers. I was born in a small Midwestern town named Celina, Ohio in 1972. My mother was a single mom, who raised us the best way she knew how. We were very poor when we grew up, but for some reason we did not realize that until later in life. My mother worked hard all of her life to provide as much as she could for us. This meant working nights as a janitor to make ends meet.
I got involved in church at a young age. I was only five when I started attending Celina Church of the Nazarene. My mother worked with a woman who attended the local Nazarene church and suggested that she send my younger brother and me to church. Sending us to church was a great way for her to get a break from us for a couple of hours a day, so she jumped at it. When I started going I remember the women taking a special interest in me and my brothers and loved us, and encouraged us to keep coming. That began the long love affair with the Nazarene church.
I remained in the church and eventually my mother started coming and becoming involved in the church working in the food pantry that we had. She developed my sense of service and humility when serving. She never liked the attention of what she did, but she enjoyed helping and serving. It is an attitude that I have even now. At age 13, while at a youth event on the district, I accepted Christ as my Savior. It was then I noticed how much different my new life was from that of rest of my family. I graduated high school, became the first to go to college in my family, and started attending Mt. Vernon Nazarene College (University). I felt the call to go into the ministry as a freshman, but because of stupidity, fear, or maybe both I ran from the call. I was sanctified as a sophomore in college and knew that I wanted to serve God, but I still refused the call to the ministry.
As a senior in college I met Betty, whom I have had a 20 year love affair with, and married her in 1995. We have two wonderful daughters, Bethany 21, a junior at Mid America Nazarene University and Jody 17 who is an avid swimmer and is currently a junior at Ozark High School. We moved from Celina to Lima, OH and became involved in several areas of ministry. We have done teen ministry, Caravans, board member, sound engineer, and various other areas. We both have a desire to serve wherever we are. In 2004, we moved to sunny Georgia and in 2005 became members of Gracepointe Nazarene Church in Loganville, GA. We jumped right in helping with children’s ministry, sound, and other areas.
In 2010, I was hired on as Pastor of Athletics to coordinate all of the sports activities of the church. This was a great ministry and a wonderful way to reach out to the community and bring people to the church. In 2011, while at the M-11 conference in Louisville, KY, I finally accepted the call of God on my life to enter the ministry. God spoke to me, not through the worship or preaching, but in His spirit and leading me to Jeremiah 18:1-6, and Matthew 14:1-8. God asked me if I was ready to be the clay and allow Him to have complete control and to use me whenever and however He saw fit. I said yes.
In January of 2104 I accepted the call to become the pastor of East Paulding Church of the Nazarene in Dallas, GA. This was my first pastorate. Experience is a great teacher and I have learned many things about being a senior pastor that has molded and shaped me in ministry. Over the past year and a half we have changed the focus of ministry at the church and become a church that was active in the community. By doing movie nights on our lawns during the summer, a dinner for unwed mothers through a local pregnancy center, Easter egg hunts, and backpack giveaway through the community we began to focus outward. I believe that touching lives in the community is an essential function of a church; because if no one reached out to my mother, I would not be here today.
In October of 2015, I accepted the call to Ozark 1st Church of the Nazarene. We accomplished a lot in those two years, such as: Backpack Giveaway, Drop and Shop, Movies on the Lawn, Serve Wednesday and other events to reach out to the community. I resigned my position in October 2017, while seeking God's direction for my ministry. I recently accepted the call to be the pastor of Scenic Church. I believe that good things are in store for us in Springfield.
Philippians 4:13 says, "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." When I was younger, I looked at that passage as one of the "fortune-cookie" verses people cling so hard to so they can feel better and try harder in whatever they want to do. I never imagined how much that verse would come to mean to me as I grew up.
I grew up in a poor family in Harrison, AR, but we made the best of it. My older brother and I had to learn from an early age how to sacrifice for the sake of the family. We learned that the family always comes first, and that has significantly shaped both my life and my view of God. When I was very young, my parents accepted a call to be missionaries on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. We were not with the Church of the Nazarene, which has the World Evangelism Fund that financially supports our missionaries, so we spent years traveling the country seeking people to pledge support for the ministry. Finally, we gave up all we had and left for New Mexico. Two weeks later, we received a call saying that the pledges had not come in, so we had to come home. We didn't have a home to come back to. My parents didn't have jobs to go back to. We had to start completely over, and it devastated my family.
I spent years blaming and rebelling against God for the pain my family went through. Years later, shortly after moving to Parsons, KS I was invited to attend the youth group at the local Nazarene Church. I met a Jesus there that I never really knew before, and I surrendered my life to Him not having any idea at that time all that would entail. About a year later, I first felt a call to ministry but immediately rejected it. I then spent the next decade going back and forth between accepting God's call for my life and running away as hard as I could. It finally took getting almost losing everything before finally really surrendering my life to God's will.
During that see-saw time of my life, I met my incredible wife, Sarai, at college, got married, and had 3 of my 5 beautiful children. Then I got very sick. I was born with a rare, incurable disease (Hereditary Angioedema) that can be very debilitating. At that time, there was no good treatment for this disease, and it became out of control. I became disable and unable to work, and the doctors were at a loss about how to help me. One doctor even expressed doubts that I would survive. My church surrounded my family in prayer for healing of the disease, but God had a different plan. Instead he healed my heart. I had been making so many excuses about why I couldn't serve in ministry, why I couldn't do what God wanted. It was at that time God led me to Philippians 4:13.
The truth is that I can't do anything on my own power. I don't have any power. However, when I am walking in God's will, He helps me. My strength, knowledge, and energy are irrelevant. Serving God is simply being willing to be used by God. When we are in His will, we work in His strength, knowledge, and energy to which there is no limit. Shortly after my total surrender, a new medicine came out to treat my disease, and then another came out. I still struggle with my disease, but it serves as a daily reminder to me that it doesn't matter. I am able to serve God despite my weaknesses because I'm able to trust God to work through me.
After spending five years serving as a Senior Pastor in two churches in Missouri, I have accepted a call to serve as the Youth Pastor at Scenic Church in Springfield, MO. I'm excited to see how God is going to use this church family to change the world.