I grew up in Ft Wayne, IN, the middle of 3 sons, with a father who was an education administrator and a mother who was a teacher. During my childhood, like many other middle class families in the 50s & 60s, I attended a denominational church. I was in a loving, moral and safe family, but the Gospel, true Christianity, and God’s Word was not part of our everyday lives.
Outwardly most people would have said that I was a “good person”. But inside I knew differently. As a teenager in the late 60s it was not difficult to fill my life with “noise” & empty pleasures that kept my heart hard & distracted. I graduated from high school and after a year with no real direction, I enlisted in the Air Force. Being exposed to people with many different backgrounds and ideas, I began to look for meaning in Eastern religions and “new age” philosophies. I had come to the point of totally rejecting the God of the Bible while creating a god of preference from my own imagination. (Rom. 1:21). Though I would have descibed myself as “spiritual” at the same time I was becoming increasingly hostile toward Christianity.
It was about this time that a friend of mine, Doug, had a sudden change in his life. His wife told me that she was very scared by this change and that he had become “saved”. I decided to talk to Doug and show him how Christianity was a false hope for the weak of mind and will. I really don’t remember much of our conversation other than me trying to “reason” with Doug and him saying some vague things about God loving me and dying for me. I left his office agreeing to disagree and privately thinking he’d come back to his senses soon. Somewhere in the hallway as I went back to my office the most extreme “impression” I’ve ever known came over my soul. It wasn’t mystical and I didn’t hear audible voices. It was more like an urgent summoning. Those thoughts I stuffed away long ago about not being even near good enough to stand before the living God, were now pressing on me. I knew I had to get back to my barracks room and “do” something. What, I had no idea.
When I got back to my room I found myself in a position I’d never been before and had no clue as to why I was on my knees. I told God out loud that I was wrong (Isa. 53:6) and He was right (Psm. 71:15-19) I told Him “ I don’t know what to do?, but I know it has something to do with Your Son Jesus, and faith in Him dying on a Cross and His blood” I remember telling Him how especially the “blood “part seemed like foolishness to me but at the same time I sensed this peaceful yet irresitalbe “call” that this was all true and more real than anything. ( I’ve cited a number of verses, none of which I knew at the time but I’ve come to learn these passages clearly express what really happened more than the actual experience itself) The shedding of blood (Heb 9:22), faith in His Son (Gal. 2:20), and the fact of Him choosing me and not the other way around (Jn 15:16). I ended by asking if He would please explain Himself to me. (Jn 1:18) On that March day in 1974 I went down on my knees a dead, blind & rebelious man. When God stood me up I was His and I was a new person. ( 2Cor. 5:17) I had gone back to my room to “do” something. Instead, Christ showed me how he had already done it all for me. (Eph. 2:8 & 9) Christ took my guilt and rebellion on Himself on the Cross and in exchange gave me His righteousness.
Through God’s providencial “hand” my family and I started attending Greenville Grace Brethern Church in the Fall of 2001. We were immediately drawn to the “oneness” of the body and the faithful instruction of God’s Word. In our early years at Greenville Grace, Janie & I were greatly encouraged by the Christ- like walk and friendship of Daniel & Teresa Pierce. It wasn’t long before we were involed in ministry; me through teaching & leading a LIFE Group and Janie in children’s and women’s ministry. Since early in my Christian life, I have always had a desire to serve the body of Christ. With encouragement from Daniel, I decided to take the Strauch Elder study. I had been a “deacon” in a previous church, however,through the study of God’s word and serving on the elder team these past years, I have learned more clearly what it means to be an under shepherd of Christ’s local body.
I believe by His grace He has confirmed His equipping in the areas of discipleship, counceling, encouragement and compassion. Each year I have become more aware of the weightiness of this calling and a growing understanding of my total inability to lead and serve without complete reliance on God’s Word, His Spirit and the accountability of the church and my fellow elders. To me, being an elder is a picture of the Gospel; Christ calling out fallen and unworthy men to be used and to display His grace and mercy by serving and building up the Body. For the last 20 years my “life” verses have been Colossians 1:28 & 29; We proclaim Him,admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.