I attended Arlington Baptist College from August 2003 until May 2007 when I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Bible – General Studies. Going into college I knew very little about the Bible and next to nothing about any deeper theology, but through this time I was challenged by many professors to study the Word and I began to ask questions, no matter how basic, and to fervently seek the answer (even if the answer was uncomfortable or not what I hoped it would be)
During this time I went from a know-nothing, youth group punk, to a Baptist (what my college hoped for), charismatic (not what they hoped for), and theologically reformed (what maybe half of them hoped for) servant of God.
Youth Pastor – Trailwood Baptist Church, Grand Prairie, TX
Moving to college meant finding a new church. I had been involved in the youth group at home, but even that was mostly self-satisfying. A friend introduced me to the pastor of a small church in Grand Prairie who was looking for a volunteer youth pastor. I attended services once, and joined the next week.
Three months into my Bible college career I became the youth pastor of about 5 kids who probably knew more about Christianity than I did. What I had the opportunity to put into these kids was a desire to know more and the ability to ask “why”? I also was able to take them beyond a youth group of games and hang out time to one of loving and serving others, in as much as a youth group can become that. I remained in this ministry position for three years before leaving the church to pursue a career in missions.
Intern – MissionQuest International
During a ‘Mentor Me’ days at college I was introduced to Mike Starling, the Director of Mission Quest International. Two weeks later I was invited on an overnight run to the Mexican border to pick up a donated bus for his ministry. This started a two year internship spanning several short-term missions with Mission Quest. Under Mike’s direction, I assisted with multiple church group trips to Mexico, helped plan and attend youth pastor backpacking trips to the Tarahumara Indians in the Copper Canyons in Mexico, and also helped organize and attended the first Mission Quest trip to Ukraine.
My intentions became to work with Mission Quest full-time after college, but that wasn’t God’s plan. Through this time with Mike, however, I learned many leadership and organizational skills, as well as gained a global-Christian worldview, realizing that God doesn’t just love Americans, and that the American way of doing things is not necessarily always the right way either.
Short Term Missionary – World Baptist Fellowship International, Short Term Evangelistic Program
Still intending on going into full-time missions after graduating college, I applied and was the first to be approved as a short-term missionary with the World Baptist Fellowship STEP program. Mike, of Mission Quest, became my sponsoring missionary as I travelled to Uganda, Africa for 6 weeks with my college roommate.
This was one of the most challenging experiences of my life as I had just finished learning how to do ministry, and was thrown into a context where doing the ministry was nothing like what I had learned.
On this trip, I had the opportunity to work with Beroya Gospel Fellowship, and a few other organizations, preaching the Gospel in churches, at evangelistic rallies, and door to door, as well as helping with orphans, widows, and drilling a water well in remote villages.
After seeing these pastors’ love for their communities and their people, God led me to a desire not to immediately pursue full-time missions work, but instead to get involved in a local church where I would have the opportunity to continue to learn and grow in caring for people and ministry skills.
Associate Pastor – Redemption Church, Odessa, TX
Shortly after returning to the U.S. from Uganda, God led me to Grace Baptist Church – now Redemption Church – where a college friend was serving as youth pastor. Honestly, there wasn’t much about it that I wanted to be a part of, but God’s plans are better than our own. After becoming friends with the Pastor, talks about me serving here commenced. After joining in the church in November, I took over the Sunday night service in January of 2008. A year later, in January of 2009, I was given the title of Associate Pastor, which I held until January of 2012.
My responsibilities at Redemption Church were varied as I served under two Lead Pastors, through a major transition in the philosophy of ministry and in clarifying the theological framework behind how we minister the Gospel. Among other things I preached the Sunday Night service for a year, developed the first incarnation of community groups, wrote various curriculum and teaching materials, oversaw different missions and outreach projects, and aided in preparing the church for a transition to a covenant membership and elder-led ministry.