To begin with, I was born. I suppose my story begins before then, but this seems like a convenient place to start.
By God’s grace, I was born into a wonderful loving family, and my parents raised me and my sister in the faith, fear, and love of the Lord Jesus. By age four I had raised my hand in class at church to accept Jesus into my heart, and by age seven I was by God’s grace (and my own impertinence) sitting down with the elders of our Baptist church and explaining to them why they needed to baptize me.
Our family moved around a lot early on, but we finally landed in the almost-barely rippled land of Indiana, where I excelled at school, mastered music, and grew in my faith even if I didn’t always fit in. Then, in ninth grade, missionary Barry Jordan challenged me to put my future in God’s hands and to trust that “the safest place that I could be is in the center of God’s will.” I was floored by his words, and even more, by a sense that God was calling me to serve him with my life. How? I really had no clue, but I knew that God would unveil his own crazy plan in due time.
In the fall of 2001, I enrolled at Cedarville University as a Mechanical Engineering major, and quickly (and ill-advisedly) piled on a second major in Philosophy. After a few years of stressful soul-searching, I began to sense God’s call to full-time service as a minister of the Gospel, probably overseas. I also began a denominational migration in the direction of the Anglican tradition. As I was concluding my undergraduate studies with a semester abroad in the spring of 2005, I was enthusiastic to head to Westminster Seminary California in the fall of 2006 to receive the theological training necessary for ordained ministry in Christ’s church.
However, in the year between university and seminary, I sensed (accurately) that I needed some practical experience serving in a cross-cultural setting. So, I up and headed off for a year to an orphanage (that I had found via Google) on the northern coast of Peru. Hands down, it was the hardest year of my life, but I left with a sense that God might be calling me to serve him overseas. During the next few years at seminary, I spent every summer traveling back to South America, first to Peru and then to Argentina, to serve as a pastoral intern. God was creating and growing within me a desire and gift for long-term cross-cultural ministry, and opening up possibilities for just that kind of adventure.
In the meantime, God provided me with an amazing church in California during my time at seminary, the Anglican Church of the Resurrection, where I was mentored by its flexible leaders and given unbelievable opportunities to practice the skills necessary to be a minister of the Gospel, particularly with the zany youth of the congregation. After a lengthy and prayerful process of discernment, by God’s will I was ordained deacon in the Anglican church in the winter of 2009; six months later, upon graduating from seminary, I was ordained priest. For two years I served as an associate pastor at Resurrection, learning hard lessons and growing by God’s grace in my faith and ministry.
This continued until January 2011, when I was commissioned to be a SAMS-USA missionary sent out from Resurrection to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to other parts of the world. In March, I began serving as an associate priest in a parish in Buenos Aires. Though by December we all agreed that I was not a good fit, I learned and grew considerably during that period, and I left eager to see where God might call me next.
Around this time the Lord opened the door to a new ministry in Central America. In May 2012, SAMS-USA sent me to try out ministry in Belize alongside of Juan and Maria Marentes, and from the start it was an amazing fit. When they left in April 2014 to serve the Lord elsewhere, I continued on serving as the pastor of our two churches and three schools in the westernmost reaches of the Cayo District.
However, life took a new turn in June 2014, when I began dating Mary Beth. Despite the challenges that come with romance at a distance, our heavenly Father has richly blessed our relationship. On January 2, 2016 we were married, and we are so happy as we begin our new life together!
And that, believe it or not, brings us to the present moment …