Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography
I grew up in Missouri in a strong Christian family active in the Assembly of God church. As an 8- year-old, I prayed for Christ to come into my life in the back seat of our car after worship one day. I have trusted God with my life since. I can’t remember a time when I have doubted His power or existence.
My parents got divorced when I was 10 or 11, which was a very difficult time. We lived on a small farm on the outskirts of Springfield, Missouri. My grandparents lived on the farm as well, and I leaned on them quite a bit. Within a year of the divorce, my grandfather broke his back and was in the hospital. While he was in the hospital, my grandmother had a stroke. The doctor said she shouldn’t have survived. She lost the ability to speak, but she lived for another eight or nine years and was independent in many ways. She was very inspiring to me. A few months after Grandma’s stroke, we found out my grandfather had cancer and he passed away within a year.
About the same time, my sister started arguing with our mother. My sister left home when she was 17 and they didn’t speak at all for three years. I prayed every day that they would be reconciled. I remember when I was 16 hearing my mom talking on the phone with my sister. Based on what I could hear of the conversation, I went to my bedroom and prayed a prayer of gratefulness. I believed God answered my prayers in restoring their relationship as a way of showing me that He had been with me and would continue to be with me.
In the midst of all that, I was exposed to pornography at age 13. It became more prevalent in my life and affected the way I viewed and treated girls in high school. I was loved by God and was pursuing a relationship with God, but I learned to compartmentalize. I remember praying many times that God would break the hold that sin had on my life. I soon headed to Palm Beach Atlantic University as God had miraculously opened some doors for it to be paid for in full.
I met my wife, Katie, at college. We started dating our freshman year and got married right after college. I was honest with her about the struggles in my life, but I still felt my struggles were things every guy struggles with. We had Christian friends in college with strong accountability that helped to shape our faith. Our school took multiple mission trips each year internationally. God gave me a broader world view through those trips. My love for sports and business developed. I began working at a Christian sports camp my junior year of college. This job changed the trajectory of my career. I felt called to ministry, specifically Christian sports camps. I began to educate myself and deepen my understanding of the possibility and the need. I wanted to start a camp with two friends, but it didn’t work out at the time.
In the summer of 1997, I was getting ready to get married and didn’t have a job. I started really praying and began to have some opportunities for sports ministry jobs. I interviewed in several different states. I got an offer from a Methodist church in Lexington, Kentucky. When I began, my job was to lead a basketball league with about 70 kids playing basketball and a few adult sports. That first winter, we named the basketball league “I am Third,” to represent that God is first, other people are second and I am third.
At 22 years old, I didn’t completely know what I was doing in my new job, but I loved God and loved kids. It was all about servant leadership and customer service and every year the sports ministry grew. In 2001, there were around 400 kids playing basketball, and someone offered to provide land for us to start a soccer league. Our first season we had 300 kids in the soccer league, and it continued to grow. One of the biggest things I noticed was the personal relationships formed through sports. There were some strong believers on each team to reach their friends for Christ. We saw coaches building relationships with players and families. At the same time, I was doing children’s ministry as the associate children’s pastor at the church, which created a unique connection between sports and children’s ministry. As a result, our children’s ministry also really grew. Through the relationships we established with the children, we saw people start coming to our church and giving their lives to Christ. Parishioners and church leaders started seeing sports as a way to evangelize.
When I was 25, I went to a Christian conference and heard pastor and author John Ortberg speak. He shared pro-football Hall of Famer Mike Singletary’s testimony about being a man of integrity. Singletary had an affair before his marriage but didn’t tell his wife until after they were married. At that moment, I remember asking God to break everything off of me. I prayed, “I will do anything it takes to reconcile relationships and heal,” and God healed me. I knew all the lust and pornography addiction had been healed. I came home and shared what had happened with my wife, which was devastating to her. She was not aware that I had a pornography addiction, but I knew it had affected our marriage terribly. The first years of our marriage were horrible because of how pornography played into my heart and marriage. After that confession to my wife, it was difficult for a few months, but it has led to 20 years of wonderful marriage. Part of that journey was meeting with my pastor and confessing. A few of his advisors had told him to let me go but my pastor said, “I am not going to fire you, but I am going to hold you to the fire. I am going to hold you to accountability and counseling.” I was all-in. I knew that I had been healed and whatever it looked like living that out and showing that to other people, I was in.
I had a conversation with my mom and learned more about the divorce and the cause of it. Hearing some of the things that went on in my parent’s marriage was difficult but freeing because I saw how some of those things were in my own life. Being able to name those things gave me more power over those things in the Holy Spirit. Once I could name it, I had authority over it instead of the other way around. God fully got a hold of my heart during this time and did significant work.
In 2005, I began the role of youth pastor at our church. We did youth camps and mission trips. As our kids were getting older, I realized that I wanted to transition out of the youth pastor role. Through different roles at the church and leadership opportunities, God continued to teach me and help me to clearly define my identity and calling. My life call is motivating, coaching and encouraging people into lifelong vigorous faith for the Kingdom of God.
About this time, one of our youth moved to Costa Rica and started a ministry. Over the last seven years, I have traveled to the Costa Rica ministry over a dozen times with family and friends. What I experience there is the closest thing to the Acts 2 model of discipleship and the church family that I have ever seen. I now even serve on their board. Being a part of their ministry has been an awakening for me and an important part of my spiritual journey.
God has used all of these events, healings and ministries in my life in powerful ways. We have seen friends come to Christ through relationships formed on I am 3rdsports teams. We have seen God transform people through cross-cultural mission trips around the world. We have seen God heal others in supernatural ways. As we have experienced these things with God, He has worked through us in relationships we’ve formed over the past 23 years in Lexington.
Through these three events: becoming an associate pastor, experiencing the Spirit in new ways through ministry, and getting involved with the Costa Rica ministry, I have felt God moving in a new way in my life. I began to wonder what it would look like to do something different in a different place. Our church had planned to start a second campus that I would lead. When the pandemic hit, the brakes were put on the second campus. In late April, I felt that leading at the second campus wasn’t God’s plan for me. I believed my time in full-time vocational ministry was coming to an end, and I had unbelievable peace about it.
Over the next month after I felt this peace, God brought new opportunities to do some life coaching and church consulting. I love meeting people one-on-one to dream and pray with them and help them see these dreams come about. As we moved into June, God made it clear that my time at my home church was coming to an end sooner than I thought. I started brainstorming and praying, “If you want me coaching and consulting and working in the marketplace, you will have to open some doors.” In July, we went to dinner with some friends to share what God was doing in our lives. Seemingly out of nowhere, I was offered a job with their construction business. They created a new job for me, a business development position, which is about building relationships with current and potential customers.
As only God can do, He showed us an opportunity for our next church home that resonated with our heart for the local church. Our family became a part of a network of house churches in October. There are currently five house churches in the network, each using the Acts 2 model for what a church looks like.
Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, we have left our church of 23 years and I have left my job of 23 years, I still feel God’s peace and blessing. God is clearly leading us through this journey. There has been so much change, but I sit in awe because it is obvious that God is right in the middle of this. We are ready to see what God is going to do with this new chapter in our lives.
What have I learned about the nature of God? One of the biggest things is that God really is the God of impossible. What humans see as impossible is just a mountain that can be moved by God. I have experienced Him both personally, in my family, and physically, as a healer. Nothing is impossible for God through the power of His Spirit. He has healed me from the grip of pornography and used that witness to encourage and free others in His Spirit.
Acts 4:27–32 ESV
For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.