My Spiritual Journey

Conversion & Calling

My Journey to Jesus

I was born into an active and loving Protestant Christian home, committed to the Seventh-day Adventist faith. For the first few formative years of my life, my parents took me to children's Sabbath School classes and Sabbath-morning-worship services and instructed me to love and follow Jesus and his teachings in the Bible. However, it was not long after my birth that my parents' marriage began to fracture. Around the age of four/five, my parents divorced. Due to the mistreatment of my mom (who received full custody of my sister and me in the divorce proceedings) by some members of our local church at that time, my mother decided that we would leave the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We attended a few other local Baptist churches until we finally dropped out of church altogether. We still believed that God existed in a nominal Christian manner, but that "belief" did not make any real difference in our lives. For example, my sister and I regularly prayed a "canned" prayer with our mom every night, when she tucked us into bed, but that was largely the extent of our religious involvement when we were with her. 

My father did not receive the same level of criticism from the church that my mom had experienced. He decided to remain a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church but transferred to a different local congregation. When my sister and I were in my dad's care every other weekend, he attempted to maintain a spiritual influence in our lives. He played Christian music and children's Scripture songs, read Bible stories to us, taught us to keep the seventh-day Sabbath and uphold other fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist faith, and took us to Sabbath School classes, worship services, and other church-sponsored programs and events. Also, he often brought us to spend time with our maternal grandparents, who also encouraged us spiritually and exposed us to religious practices and the teachings of the Bible. While my dad's and maternal grandparents' influences no doubt had a subconscious impact upon me, its fullness was significantly undercut by my dad's restrictive (and, at times, neglectful), authoritarian style of parenting and legalistic tendencies in his practice of religion. Moreover, the influence of my mom's abandonment of formalized religion led me to feel a similar disinterest in formal religion. In those years, I strongly resisted attending church programs and other religious events, fighting with my dad to stay home from church on his weekends.

As my childhood and adolescent years progressed, I grew up very distant from God and disinterested in spiritual things. With that came a deep, seemingly bottomless void in my heart. My biggest struggles were dealing with all the hurt and anger that resulted from my severely broken family and wrestling to find some purpose and meaning in life. I was hurting, unsatisfied with how things were, and I often felt empty. I spent many years attempting to fill this void in my heart with all kinds of things—including idolizing different celebrities (e.g., Michael Jordan), hanging out with my public school friends, and engaging in worldly music and entertainment—to no avail.

 

In 1998, a brief moment of spiritual light came into my life when my dad remarried, and my step-mother, Tonya, joined our family. While this change certainly came with its own unique challenges and difficult family dynamics to navigate, there were positives that came with it. One of those positives was Tonya's encouragement of my dad to engage us further in the life of their local church by signing up my sister for the local Adventurer club and me for the local Pathfinder club at the Apison Seventh-day Adventist Church. This was a significant development that sparked some religious and spiritual interest in my life. As part of my club participation, I was required to do Bible readings and be actively involved in various religious and outdoor activities.

In terms of my spiritual journey, I recall a particular moment of extreme importance. During the summer of 1999, my first year as a member of the local Pathfinder club, an International Pathfinder Camporee titled "Discover the Power" was held in Oshkosh, WI. My dad and step-mom ensured that both my sister and I attended. I remember it being such a fun experience! The Friday evening convocation near the end of the week was particularly significant. As the main part of its programming for that night, actors/esses performed a dramatized play on the passion of Jesus (i.e., his death, burial, and resurrection). It was very moving and deeply affected me, prompting a profound emotional response and tears. I talked with my dad and Tonya afterward about what I was feeling in my heart. This led me to the decision to be baptized.

Afterward, my dad helped my sister and me study through a Bible workbook given to him by our pastor, David Hakes, to prepare us for baptism. I later did not recall much of what I studied during that process. However, I do remember talking about the importance of following the dietary laws of clean and unclean foods in the Old Testament. Interestingly, I was adamant about upholding those laws in my life, even during times of spiritual resistance. Once I completed my Bible studies, Pastor Hakes baptized me into the Apison Seventh-day Adventist Church on Saturday, May 20, 2000, when I was twelve years old. At that time God's light shined into my life, but only for a moment.

All of this spiritual interest quickly faded in the years of my adolescence, partly due to influences at the public middle school where I attended. The cognitive and emotive changes of adolescence enabled me to reflect more intentionally on my life. As I looked at the challenges of the hurt of my past and the brokenness of my family, pain, confusion, and resultant anger built in my heart, especially toward my dad. This was largely due to his harsh authoritarianism, rigid legalism, and occasional neglect in stark contrast to my mom's affection, leniency, and attentiveness. My anger grew into bitterness and resentment that compelled me to put religion and spirituality largely out of view once again. Darkness returned to my life as I turned my back on "his" religion. I felt so empty, broken, confused, and purposeless during that time. Once more, I place my attention on many things in attempt to fill the fractures of my heart. As an example, one of my middle-school friends influenced me to develop a taste for hard rock and heavy metal music, as well as other forms of secular entertainment. I thought this may soothe my soul, but it made my borkeness feel all the more painful. Nevertheless, I would not be vulnerable or allow anyone to see my "weakness." 

 

Though I was well-behaved and performed successfully in school in these years, I hid my pain behind the veil of rebellious and defiant behavior at home. I spoke and acted disrespectfully to both of my parents and victimized my sister with my newfound strength in the meanness that covered up my hurts. This severely damaged my relationship with her. In childhood, we clung to one another for support, weathering together the storms of our broken family; however, in the heat of my newfound anger, I alienated my most important friend. This pattern of emotions, symptomatic behavior, and religious resistance continued until the providence of God led me to commence a journey of healing in my life at the time when I entered high school.
 

My Conversion to Christ

It was not until the summer of 2002 before my freshman year of high school that enduring light began to enter the darkness of my world. My mother became reacquainted with an old classmate with whom she had attended high school at the Christian academy from which she had graduated. He happened to be a former pastor. A friendship began to grow between them. Not much later, he invited us back to attend a Seventh-day Adventist local church. We were extremely hesitant because of the mistreatment my mom had experienced in the past and my own spiritual resistance, but we still agreed to accompany him. Our first experience was uncomfortable, due to the church's contemporary style of music that seemed to match our experience with the world rather than the worship of a holy God. So, we tried church a second time, but this time in a more traditional worship atmosphere. This second experience was positive enough that we continued attending worship on Saturday mornings.

 

It was during this time that I was concurrently faced with the decision of where I would attend high school. We had just moved out-of-zone of the public school system that I was attending which prohibited me from enrolling in the high school that all my friends were planning to attend. The options were to go to the local public high school or find a private school to attend since private schools have no zoning regulations. My mother decided that she wanted me to attend the Christian academy from which she had graduated (i.e., Collegedale Academy). She feared the bad peer influences of the county public high school. Perhaps, I could be pressured into drugs or partying. So, I yielded and began attending Collegedale Academy. My mom made tremendous financial, time, and energy sacrifices in order to send my sister and me to private school—even working three different jobs each week! Needless to say, I made the most out of this new opportunity.

 

During the first few weeks of school, I noticed that my new peers at the Christian academy had a different demeanor than many of those at my old public school. Many of them seemed to have purpose, drive, and meaning in their lives—they had something for which to live. During those first few weeks, I was especially impressed by a couple of students and their demonstration of the power of Christianity in their lives. First was the student association president, Ben Schnell, who was one year ahead of me in school. Ben radiated positivity and a passion for Jesus through his smile and in the way that he treated me and other students with unconditional acceptance. The kindness of his life convicted my conscience and touched my heart.

 

Second, one of my own classmates, Anisha Mathi, experienced a major tragedy in her life. Her father, the principal of the adjoining Christian elementary school (A. W. Spalding Elementary), suddenly and unexpectantly passed away due to a serious heart attack. Even throughout this devastating experience, Anisha maintained an unending joy and a peace that surpassed all understanding. I was impressed how she could have such hope and peace during this challenging time for her family.

Third, as I was unable to drive alone just yet (being only fourteen/fifteen years old), my maternal (step-)grandfather transported my sister and me to school in the mornings. He was a deeply spiritual man, who longed to see his grandchildren be converted and accept the Seventh-day Adventist message. So, he often spent our morning drives engaging me in discussions about spirituality, talking about the teachings of the Bible and sharing with me quotations from the writings of Ellen G. White. He would later purchase, little by little, an entire library of books by Ellen G. White for me. My grandpa's confident faith spurred me forward into asking him more questions about the Bible.

These events triggered me to begin inquiring of my peers at school about the source of their peace and purpose.​ Their resounding answer was JESUS. Within those first few weeks and months of attending Collegedale Academy, I decided that I wanted the benefits of a relationship with Christ. So, at the age of fifteen, I surrendered my whole life to him in repentance and faith. As a result, God filled the void in my heart like nothing else could by giving me peace from the turmoil of my past, a passion and purpose in the present, and a hope for something better in the future.

 

My Call to Ministry

Not long after I committed my life to Christ, God was ready to make clear to me his plan for me and the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit had bestowed upon me. One day, while attending the Apison Seventh-day Adventist Church in Apison, Tennessee, my dad and step-mom (who were the Pathfinder club leaders at that time) along with Pastor Greg Daniel, the then senior pastor of the church, asked if I would like to be the speaker for the upcoming Pathfinder Sabbath (a special youth-led worship service). I was quite hesitant and reluctant initially due to my previous embarrassing experience of public speaking when I blacked out in front of my eighth-grade class during my valedictorian speech at graduation. I am naturally an introverted person, and I always had trouble with giving speeches in school, no matter how small the audience. Despite this, I finally agreed to give it one try; and, if it went poorly, I decidedly vowed to never do it again. Pastor Daniel encouraged me by promising to help me all along the way.

 

Each week, Pastor Daniel and I met in his pastor study at the church for an hour or so and worked on the sermon together. Between meetings, he suggested different parts of the sermon to be written/edited to prepare for our next meeting. Eventually, the sermon took shape, and the research and writing process came to an end. It was titled "Accepting the Gift." A few weeks before I was scheduled to preach, the pastor invited me to practice the sermon in the church's sanctuary with him as my listening congregation. He observed my practice sessions and gave his supportive encouragement and counsel all along the way. He was an excellent servant leader and an important mentor in my life during this time.

 

The Friday night before the Pathfinder Sabbath was a rough night for me. Our club decided to camp in tents on the baseball field next to the church over the weekend. It stormed all through the night, and I couldn’t get a wink of sleep between the thunder and lightning and my excessive nervous energy. Needless to say, on the morning of the sermon, I was exhausted and anxious and didn't feel very well. I considered for a moment, backing out of preaching; yet, I remembered my commitment and eventually determined to do it anyhow. I prayed that God would make this sermon a success for his glory, as he was the one to arrange these circumstances. Apprehensively, I sat through the worship service until, finally, after the special music had finished, it was time for the sermon. As I made my way up the platform stairs, I remember stumbling slightly up the stairs and being struck with embarrassment. I stood behind the old wooden pulpit to hide my shaky knees and set down my sermon notes and Bible. Grasping the pulpit with both hands until my knuckles turned white, I looked at the congregation. A stuttered greeting came forth and then I announced my need to pray. In that moment of prayer, a wave of peace and calm came over me as I had never felt before. It felt as if the Holy Spirit had come down to rest upon me personally.

 

I delivered the sermon with great confidence and earnest expression. At its conclusion, I made an altar call with decision cards. A few people came forward to commit and recommit their lives to Christ, turning in their cards. I was so amazed at how Christ was using me, of all people, to bring others to him. Miraculously, I survived the sermon without fainting! After the worship service, I went outside onto the front porch of the church and noticed that all the clouds from the storm had vanished. In their place, I was greeted by a beautiful deep blue sky and the golden beams of the sun. Most of the water from the heavy rains had dried up except for a few sparkling drops on the leaves of some of the surrounding trees and shrubs. As I stood there admiring this scene, awaiting to greet the worshippers who would soon exit the church building, I sensed a deep impression, as if God's voice was speaking to me, saying, “This is what I want you to do for me for the rest of your life.” That weekend, I accepted God’s call to full-time preaching and teaching ministry and dedicated my life to leading others to meet Jesus.

 

In school, I was elected as the student pastor for the Class of 2006 and became very involved in student ministry. The academy chaplain lined up preaching opportunities for me in local churches and other Christian academies in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia.

 

Meanwhile, in 2003, I received a flyer in the mail inviting me to a Bible prophecy seminar taught by evangelist and pastor B. J. Boles to be held at the Apison Seventh-day Adventist Church. I attended every night of the seminar and was amazed by the biblical messages that Pastor Boles shared. I even attended the extra meetings (which, unbeknownst to me, were baptismal classes). I was especially impressed with apocalyptic prophecies, such as that in Dan 2, in which God accurately predicted the future of world events thousands of years before they were providentially actualized in history. I took profuse notes and reviewed them every night with my sister at home. At the end of the seminar, I was moved to be rebaptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. So much had changed from the time of my previous baptism that I felt the Holy Spirit asking for me to do this. Therefore, Pastor Daniel rebaptized me on Sabbath, February 7, 2004, at the Apison Seventh-day Adventist Church.

 

I fully committed my life to preach the three angels' messages (Rev 14:6–12) in addition to the gospel of Jesus in order to prepare people to meet Jesus at his second advent. I was so excited about sharing the biblical teachings and prophecies of my denomination that I arranged for myself and some of my classmates to lead small group Bible studies with children from some of the local Seventh-day Adventist schools. Then, in the spring of 2005, I went on my first international mission trip to Costa Rica. We helped to build a new classroom edifice for a Seventh-day Adventist school, and I preached (in partnership with Ben Schnell and other students) for a revival series in the local church we were serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the autumn of that same year, I planned, advertised, and conducted my very first Bible prophecy seminar in the chapel of Collegedale Academy that was titled "Prophecy Unveiled."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The then-treasurer of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was so impressed with my youthful passion to preach this series that he helped by financing a part of it, along with the youth pastor of the Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the chaplin's office of Collegedale Academy at that time. Evangelist Mark Finley (who was the director/speaker of It Is Written then), even came to the academy to help promote the series. That meant the world to me! (From that point forward, I watched Pastor Finley's evangelistic ministry closely; he became an important role model for me in ministry.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While, in the end, little "fruit" came from the series, I received invaluable experience in evangelistic ministry, and a fire ignited in my heart for public evangelism. I would go on to give many more prophecy seminars at home and abroad (e.g., Cuba, Ecuador, South Carolina, Georgia, etc.) in my late teens and twenties.

A "Detour" to Suffering

During my Sophomore year of high school, I experienced a theological detour that altered my Christian experience for a time and resulted in great spiritual and social suffering. Not unlike most new disciples of Jesus, I experienced a fervent passion and zeal as a part of my "first love," newfound faith in Christ and his message and mission. Unexpectedly, this became a "turn-off" for several of my schoolmates at the academy, and, as a result, some chose to distance themselves from me socially. Others appreciated my enthusiasm for Christ, his word, and doing ministry.

 

Some well-meaning adults in the church (most notably, my maternal grandpa and the father of one of my good friends) saw my spiritual excitement and impressionability and took the opportunity to influence me toward the legalistically-oriented "last generation theology" (hereafter, LGT) of the infamous theologian, M. L. Andreasen, and his modern-day proponents (such as Dennis Priebe and Larry Kirkpatrick). I became consumed with debating the subjects of hamartiology (i.e., the doctrine of sin) and Christ's human nature with others, as well as the need for complete victory over sin before the end-time "close of probation." The joy and peace that I originally experienced in Jesus were refashioned into a legalistic pursuit of sinless perfection by overcoming every besetment in my life. I spent much time reflecting upon my individual sins and putting forth great effort to stop them; yet, failure after failure in this regard led to great spiritual discouragement. My experience was not aligning at all with my newfound theology of so-called "historic Adventism." To self soothe my frustration and distract myself from my spiritual foibles, I focused my attention outwardly, identifying sins in the lives of others. With a critical and judgmental spirit, I condemned them for their lack of victory over their sins, emphasizing external matters, such as health, dress, and entertainment reforms.

In this vein, I can remember one particular chapel talk that I gave at my academy around the time of one of the anniversaries of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City. It was quite condemnatory in spirit toward the "worldliness" of American society and lacked the balancing theme of the redemptive grace of Christ. I even suggested that God caused the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in order to give a "wake up call" for his people to give up their sinful ways and secular perversions. This judgmental homily was the final "straw" for many of my schoolmates and even some of the academy's staff (including the chaplin). Many of the students and some of the school's staff turned cold toward me, and some became reactively antagonistic. The chaplin reprimanded me for what I had said in my chapel talk. From that point forward, our relationship changed, and he began to limit the ministry opportunities that, previously, he had readily made available to me. He also on occasion called me into his office to argue over my "Amazing Facts Adventism," as he called it. I can also recall one incident that occurred later in the afternoon when I was walking in the hallway to chemistry class. One student approached me from behind, grabbed the back of my uniform shirt collar, and spit a mouthful of sticky orange Gatorade down my back. All of these and other occurrences grew within me a sense of isolation. While I felt quite rejected and humiliated, I pressed onward, finding strength in the stories of determined reformers, such as Jan Huss or Martin Luther, who stood firm for the truth no matter the suffering they faced for it.

My exilic feelings grew​ more pronounced when I brought home my legalistic religion to my family. I issued scathing rebukes for my mom's dropping out of church again and my sister's nominal spiritual experience, as I understood them. Distance between my sister and me continued to increase, and I found myself in regular confrontation with my mom again, just like in my pre-conversion days. During these difficult years, I did find some social support in attending the annual youth conferences of GYC (the Generation of Youth for Christ), where I encountered like-minded youth and young adults, and in spending time with one family, sharing similar theological views, that took me "under their wings." Nevertheless, spiritually and socially, my life was falling apart on the inside. However, I denied this, pretending on the outside that all things were going just right because I had "present truth."

Getting Back on "Track"

During the summer of 2006, before I started college classes at Southern Adventist University, I visited with one of my friends. On that occasion, my friend's dad, with whom I was very close, approached me. (He had been one of the adults that helped to stir me onto my spiritual "detour" of LGT.) I thoroughly enjoyed the theological discussions that we often shared together and was anticipating another good conversation. However, he apprehensively began the dialogue by telling me that all he had shared with me previously about LGT had been wrong. He apologized for leading me astray (unintentionally) and noted that he had arrived at a more biblically based theology of salvation through further study. He handed me a book to read that he said had helped him escape the legalism of LGT.

Overwhelmed with a confusion of emotions and feeling betrayed by him, I expressed frustration with what he shared. Now, I saw him as having fallen into the alleged apostasy of "new theology." I resisted the ideas that he shared with me, but I couldn't argue with the positive impact that his change had made on his spiritual experience. I told him that I would only read the book in an effort to prove its error. Whatever my motivations, he only hoped that I would read it and prayed that that exposure would transform my mind and heart.

 

I took the book home and read it within a few days as promised. Its content prompted frustration with its contradictory perspectives, but something compelled me to read it again. And so I did. After the second read, confusion replaced my anger. So, I read the book a third time. Utterly perplexed and not knowing what I was to believe, I decided to put aside all extra-biblical reading materials. I determined to research the Bible exclusively in order to grasp what God would have me to believe concerning the topics of sin, salvation, atonement, sanctification, Christian perfection, and the human nature of Christ. A lot of my summer was used for deep study. I felt particularly led to read the Pauline epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians. The rich grace-oriented theology therein began to chip away the foundations of my belief in LGT. After completing my study in God's word on the matter, I became quite confident that LGT was unbiblical. However, I was still curious as to what Ellen G. White had written on the aforementioned topics.

 

Using the old hardback indexes to her writings, I sought an understanding of Ellen G. White's thoughts on this all-important subject. I was especially fascinated by the compilation of her quotations found in the appendices of volume 7a of the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary series. Her comments there (and elsewhere) seemed to be aligning with what I had learned from my Bible study. At one point near the end of my investigation, I decided to reread her little book called Steps to Christ. I had read it several times in the past, but, for the first time, I really understood the profoundly powerful ideas amongst its pages. I was so dumbfounded at how I had previously missed the significance of this book that I was brought to tears. Upon reaching the end of my examination of Ellen G. White's writing, I concluded that she did not agree with the legalistic understandings of sin, salvation, and Christ's human nature that are propagated by exponents of LGT.

When my months-long research ended (after spending some time with extra-biblical materials on the subject), I remember sitting at my desk in my bedroom. I closed my Bible and began to weep and then sob. Falling to my knees, I confessed with full transparency the ontological depth of my own human depravity and sin to God. With great sorrow, I repented of errors in my thinking, my judgmental attitudes toward others, and my attempts to deliver myself from sin. I pled with God to forgive me for sharing the enslaving theology of M. L. Andreasen with others and asked for God to give an "out" to those whom I had influenced over the years to embrace LGT,  as he had done for me. I praised him for his inexhaustible grace and his undying love for me. I thanked God for his patience and longsuffering with me and for never giving up on me. I adored him for the substitutionary atonement that he had provided for me in the person of Christ on account of my sin (both natured and nurtured [i.e., hereditary and cultivated]). I asked Jesus to enwrap me in the perfect righteousness of his active and passive obedience and rejoiced that I stood justified before God, my loving Father, by faith in his grace. I asked for the Holy Spirit to fall upon me and fill me, to renew my mind and heart, and to enable me to live a life of love and grace toward others. That moment transformed my life forever! I was truly a new creation in Christ!

Making Amends

My passionate "first love" for Jesus had returned, and it was like I had been reconverted all over again. During my first year of studying theology in university, I went forth, repairing the damage that I had caused in my relationships with others. One relationship was particularly important for me to initiate healing—that with my sister. I approached her and apologized for all the terrible things that I had said and done to her in the past. Tearfully, I assured her that, while I was still a sinner, Jesus had dramatically changed who I was. I committed to treating her with the love, respect, and dignity that she deserved as my sister, and asked if we could journey into the future together instead of apart. (Since that time, we have been very close friends.) Similarly, I made amends with others whom I had hurt during those years of my life.

As my friend's dad did, I also felt it my responsibility to help others escape the legalism of LGT. My grandpa was of particular concern to me. He was steeped in the beliefs of LGT and very evangelistic for its cause. I prayed for an opportunity to share my renewed experience with him so that he might have a similar change in his life. One Sabbath afternoon in the summer of 2009, I went to see my maternal grandparents. After lunch, we decided to take a walk together down the country road upon which they lived in rural McDonald, Tennessee. My grandpa and I walked ahead of my grandma and the other family that was visiting because he had indicated that he wanted to share something with me privately. He began to explain to me that someone had given him a book that prompted him to embark upon a journey of Bible study and reading of Ellen G. White's writings while I was studying abroad for a year in Argentina. Timidly, he said that the book and his study had led him to some different theological conclusions. Before he shared his new beliefs, I asked him for the name of the book. It was the same one that I had been given by my friend's dad! My mouth fell open in amazement. I immediately cut into the conversation, sharing my spiritual transformation in the summer of 2006 and telling him about my new beliefs. He began to cry, and exclaimed, "That is exactly what happened to me! I now believe that way too!" We embraced one another as we shed tears of happiness. I was so incredibly grateful that my grandpa had discovered the biblical teaching of righteousness by faith, as I had. This is only one of the many opportunities that I have had to share with others about my spiritual "detour" and how God put me back on "track."

Today

Since that time, God has done amazing work in my life and has blessed me beyond measure. The bitterness that I harbored in my heart from my adverse childhood experiences and my broken family has undergone substantial healing. I have been faithful to God's calling for me to be a full-time pastor-teacher. I finished two Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees—one in theology and the other in international studies with an emphasis in Spanish at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. I went on to do Bible work for six months in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then to pastor a couple of churches in the area of Atlanta, Georgia for a few years. Afterward, I completed a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree with an emphasis in systematic theology at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI. Currently, I am working toward a Doctor of Philosophy in Religion with a concentration in theology studies and a cognate in New Testament studies. I, now, can be found pastoring two congregations in the area of Knoxville, Tennessee. While there are unique challenges presented in pastoral ministry, I'm loving every moment of serving God's people and working to advance his kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven, through the preaching-teaching ministry that he has gifted to me.

 

God has also blessed me with a wonderful life-long ministry partner. I am married to a beautiful wife of more than ten years, Mariesa (Swisher), whom I met during my years at Southern. She passionately loves God and shares the same values and beliefs. She is a gifted vocal and instrumental (guitar, piano, Native American flute, Ukelele) musician and songwriter, who serves people every day as a licensed clinical social worker. Presently, she is working toward a Doctor of Philosophy in interdisciplinary health sciences with a cognate focus in culture, spirituality, and health to equip her better in meeting people's needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have made a loving home together and expanded our family by adopting our two Siamese mix cats, Nestlee and Winter, and caring full-time for our eight-year-old nephew, Kieran, for whom we labor every day to raise him to love Jesus. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of our favorite hobbies and pass-times to do together are singing, outdoor recreation (e.g., hiking, backpacking, kayaking, etc.), traveling, language learning, and just snuggling on the couch together with the cats to read a book or watch a movie with one another.

 

Since my conversion and call to ministry, God has provided opportunities for me to travel to many places in the United States and around the world (such as Ecuador, Cuba, Costa Rica, Greece, Argentina, Trinidad, etc.) to preach and teach the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ and the Three Angels' Messages with countless numbers of people. God ever continues to fill my life with his unspeakable joy and peace. I now get my greatest fulfillment in life from my relationship with Jesus and serving him by leading others into a saving relationship with him. It is an indescribable blessing to see firsthand the lives of people become positively changed by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit through the proclamation of the Word of God.

 

Personal Appeal

If you are experiencing a void in your heart that keeps you from having true joy and peace in your life, as I have been able to experience in Jesus, I hope you will consider a relationship with him too. He will fill your heart with his love and grace and replace your feelings of hopelessness, despair, and lack of direction with meaning and purpose. In fact, he will make you totally new as He has done for me. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Would you like Christ to make you new as he has done for me?

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