I grew up Lutheran for the first 17 years of my life. My mom was pretty committed to taking me and my brother to church. I was baptized as a baby and went to catechism for 2 years in junior high. We were even involved with the youth group at that church. It was not until I met a girl my Senior year in high school that I would hear the gospel for the first time. She and her family invited me to their Baptist Church. I can remember listening to the sermon and thinking to myself that this is really different. I had never heard before that people would actually go to hell if they did not have Christ as their savior. This was all foreign to me. In the upcoming weeks and months, I had many conversations with my girlfriend and her parents. In October 1994 while watching an old Billy Graham movie, the Lord continued to speak to me. At the end of the movie, they had an old Billy Graham crusade and during the invitation he gave, I asked Christ to save me.
After a few years I started to attend Calvary Bible Baptist Church in Westerville, Oh. It was here that the Lord would give me numerous ministry opportunities to work with most facets of the NT church. My wife and I headed up our Welcome Ministry shortly after we were married in 2000. I was asked to become a deacon in 2002. About this time, I also was asked to start teaching adult Sunday school classes. From time to time I also taught other children’s classes. In 2004 my wife and I were asked to temporarily run our youth ministry while they sought out a new Youth pastor. It was during these early years that the Lord gave me a heart for souls and ministry. I taught a junior high Sunday school class from 2003-2008 and had the opportunity to impact many lives. In 2008 I was asked to teach a young marrieds class, which I did for about a year. At the same time I was asked many times to fill in and teach other adult classes and even started teaching on Sunday nights when our Pastor was away. My wife and I also headed up our VBS for about 3 years. In 2009 we were asked to take over our Awana ministry and we still are heading it up. I have also had opportunities to speak at other local churches and youth gatherings.
In 2002 I had an opportunity to go to Kenya. While there, God began to work in my heart to become a missionary. Over the years after the trip, every time we had a missionary come through our church, I knew God was working to prepare me for missions. It was not until 2014 when Erin went on a mission trip that the Lord confirmed the calling in both of our lives.
I was raised in a Christian home, and as long as I can remember I was told that I was saved. Apparently, I prayed as a preschooler and asked Jesus into my heart. For a time I trusted in this, but the truth was I did not remember, and I knew deep down my life was unsurrendered.
At age 10 I began attending a horseback riding club. It was a ministry run by a widow woman who opened her home and farm to young girls. It was a fabulous combination of learning to ride horses, memorizing scripture, and participating in Bible study. One day, she had a talk with me. She asked me if I knew I would be going to heaven when I died. I felt panicked and weakly answered that I hoped so. She showed me from the Bible how I could be sure. I listened, but did nothing about it at that time.
That summer, I attended camp, and was asked the same question at the end of a chapel time. Was I sure that I would be with Jesus in heaven when I died? I knew I needed to settle this once and for all. I couldn’t trust in a prayer that I was told I said as a youngster, I needed to make a conscious choice to make Jesus the Lord of my life and enjoy the relief of knowing my sin problem was taken care of. I gratefully did that at the altar that night at summer camp
As a teenager my faith was put to the test when I began dating Josh, my future husband. After getting to know him, it became apparent that his profession to be a Christian was based in watered-down teaching he had received during his Lutheran upbringing. I battled with what I knew the Lord required of me and what my flesh wanted. Reluctantly, I made the decision to end the relationship due to our differences. God had other plans though, and used my mother to lead him to the Lord. Dramatic changes occurred in his life and priorities and we were able to continue as a couple. We were married after college, and have served together in various capacities at our church for the last 14 years.
In 2013 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and a hereditary genetic mutation leading to great cancer risk. I underwent a few surgeries followed by chemotherapy and I am likely to never deal with cancer again. I was given the opportunity to see my mortality and lessen my grip on treasures here on this Earth as God gave me peace and hope in the midst of great trial. The summer after my cancer treatment, I went on a mission trip to Honduras. I want to use the remainder of my life to serve the Lord more vigorously and with greater urgency than before. After participating in the ministry of the Lopez’s in Honduras, I felt the Lord showing me that foreign missions was how he would use me. I returned home from the trip and shared my thoughts with Josh. We discovered that we met the qualifications for TEAM missions, and prayerfully decided to move forward with plans to participate. My prayer is that as a missionary I will bring glory to God and see many people saved. He is the hope of the world.