This is my story.

I grew up in a mid-sized brick ranch house with an acre of yard near 65th and Allisonville Road in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Most days existed of hopping on my brown wheelie bike (the kind with a banana seat designed to resemble a chopper motorcycle) and riding around the neighborhood visiting friends or heading to the local pharmacy in search of candy.  They were the wonder filled days one might expect growing up in the 70’s.

My world changed at age 9 when my parents split up and then shortly thereafter my mom was in a life altering car accident. I remember her rehabbing for such a long time. My teen years were filled with living in two different environments bouncing back and forth from my dad’s house to my mom’s house and vice-versa.  It wasn’t long before I was off to college in Holland, Michigan studying pre-med in hope of being a doctor one day.

During my first year of studies in Holland I began to feel the strong calling of God on my life.  I tried hard to push it all back, but God was like this giant monkey on my back I could not shake. I finally submitted to His claim on my life.  I remember traveling down to Naples, Florida to tell my dad that I was dropping out of pre-med, enrolling in a Bible college in Southern California, and getting engaged to the girl I was going to marry.  Not surprising, his affirmation was not forthcoming.  I had hoped for a different response, but being a father of similar age as he was then, I now understand that my dad loved me and was acting in my best interest.  In his mind, finishing pre-med was what was best for me.  But for me, I needed to venture out on my own to be faithful to this strong spiritual calling on my life.  It was at that moment that I shifted all my trust to my heavenly father.  And looking back now, I realize that God was indeed orchestrating all of what was happening.

So I moved out to Fullerton, California at age 19 and spent the next 3½ years taking in an undergraduate Bible education and learning one hard life lesson after another being 1,800 miles away from where I grew up. During that time, I was studying in addition to being youth pastor at a smaller church and also an intern to the senior minister of another church in Anaheim.  Every experience was formative for my future. During this time Carol and I got married and lived in very close quarters in our very first studio apartment. It was humble beginnings for sure.

After graduating, we went from Orange County, California to the back hills of the Appalachian mountains.  Talk about culture shock!  But we immediately fell in love with both the people and the geography.  I was working my way through a Master of Divinity degree in a Christian Seminary while preaching in a little country church. Carol was earning her Masters of Marriage and Family Counseling degree at a state university. We have such fond memories of these formative years of life before kids.  We both finished our graduate degrees and I was ordained at age 27.  We moved to Columbus, Indiana where a youth pastor position awaited.

Soon after I began my ministry in Columbus, Carol was pregnant with our first son. The blessing of children is pure joy.  It wasn’t long after when we had our second son.  We tried for a third for a long time, but never received that blessing.  Children are a gift from God.  A church family is another amazing gift from God. Not being in the same city as our own family, so many other families became our family. Even to this day these Columbus families remain some of the most loved people in our lives.  That’s why it was so difficult to follow God’s calling to go to Illinois to another church to use new gifts that God was growing in me.

Sad yet excited, off to Rockford we went. I was now 33 years old and part of an executive team of pastors at a larger church. I loved the collaboration and friendship of the team. I quickly learned how important it was to surround yourself with wiser and smarter people than yourself. I learned a great deal about myself, about ministry, and the Holy Spirit during my time in Rockford. I can look back now and clearly see that God was preparing me to lead a church.  In the economic downturn the church took a financial hit. The team decided to downsize the pastoral staff and I was let go.  I have to be honest and say that it was a huge injury to my ego. I was 39 years old. It was a difficult and painful time in my life.  But God’s timing is always perfect. God orchestrated all of it for His greater purpose in my life. I would have never left the comfort of my position in Rockford had I not been forced. God knew that in order for me to fly I needed to be kicked out of the nest.  From Rockford I went to lead a church in Fortvcille on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Praise God for His constant discipline in my life.

As lead pastor in Fortville I have fallen in love with so many families all over again. The body of Christ is thicker than blood. I love being a pastor. I see now that I was made for this - to the glory of God! Every day I get to put my trust in God all over again. Every day I get to see the Holy Spirit work in supernatural ways in people’s lives. Oh, the stories I have to tell! There is never a dull moment! I cannot imagine doing anything else other than pointing people to Jesus and encouraging them to take next steps of faith in their life.