The earliest thing I remember is wanting to be a missionary. I was probably four years old or so, and my friend and I agreed that I would be a missionary, and he would be a miner who would find jewels underground to sell and give me the money–not a bad deal!
This ambition was short-lived, however. At some point in the elementary school years something else caught my attention that seemed more exciting–flying. Over time this ambition grew, and I decided I wanted to join the Air Force to be a pilot. I read books on aviation. Did fly-alongs with some cloud-seeder pilots. Poured over the catalog from the Air Force Academy. When I was sixteen, I started taking flying lessons and eventually soloed.
But other forces were at work. During that same year, while we were still living in Indonesia, I grew more serious about my Christian faith. During times of Bible reading and prayer, I distinctly got the impression that God was calling me to pastoral ministry. My reaction was immediate–no way! I wanted to be a pilot. I loved flying. There was no way I wanted to be a preacher! For six months or so I wrestled with this. The electricity would often go on and off in our village in Indonesia, and I remember one night in my bedroom when I pulled a classic Gideon move. “God,” I prayed, “If you want me to be a pastor instead of a pilot, please make the electricity go out in the next thirty seconds.” With nerves fluttering, I lay there counting in the dark, waiting for my air conditioner to turn off. It did not. Alright, I thought. I get to be a pilot.
But the issue was not so easily settled. When we moved back to Michigan in 1999, we found a church and I got involved in the youth group. As I got to know new friends and as our youth pastor took me under his wing, I continued to wrestle with the issue of calling. Then, one evening when I was by myself at a lake, something strange happened. As I thought about the issue, I realized that my desires had changed. I now only wanted to be a pastor.
And so, with no great drama, my path changed. I exchanged the Air Force Academy catalogs with material from various Bible colleges. I became a student leader in our youth group, and our youth pastor gave me opportunities to preach and teach. Some friends and I formed a Christian band, where I played trumpet and presented the gospel at our concerts.
For college, I chose the Moody Bible Institute because of their exclusive focus on ministry training. Though I entered as a youth ministry major, about halfway through I decided that was too narrow a focus, so I chose pastoral studies. This meant I would also take Greek, which I desired to do.
After graduation, I marred Kailoni, and we moved back to Michigan where I joined the staff of the same church that had been instrumental my changing course of life. They ordained me to ministry, and we enjoyed almost four years in associate pastoral ministry. I knew that I wanted to be a senior pastor, however–and I believed this meant some additional education. This is how we came to Dallas Theological Seminary.
My sense of calling has essentially not changed since that evening as a teenager when I realized God had changed my heart about ministry. I was blessed to marry a woman who is also committed to ministry, and who supports this path. I know that God has called me to be a preacher, pastor, and evangelist, and I believe that my gifting toward this end has been confirmed through the various churches and ministries of which I have been a part.
I am grateful to the Lord that he has brought me down this road, and that he gives us believers not only the grace of salvation, but also the grace of service. Oh, and my friend who was going to be a miner and support my missionary efforts? He too went to Moody Bible Institute and is a pastor today.
PS If you do happen to be a miner with some extra jewels lying around, feel free to contact us. 🙂