I grew up in the small town of Whitefish, Montana where my dad worked in a sawmill, as did his dad and grandad before him. As a child our family attended a small Assembly of God church, and I came to faith in Christ as a young child. A key spiritual marker for me was the death of my 14-year-old brother while we were running to get in shape for football. I was 16, and as difficult as this was for our family, I remember thinking that without Jesus life ends poorly. Whether you live 14 or 104 years, death takes everything from us, if there is no resurrection and life forever with Jesus.
Shortly thereafter we began attending a Baptist church in our town, and it was there that I professed my faith through believer’s baptism. There was no Southern Baptist church in my hometown, but when I attended college in Butte, Montana I met a group from the Baptist Student Union (BSU). They reached out to me and it changed my life. I joined Floral Park Baptist Church, the SBC church in Butte. By my senior year I was the BSU Director, where I planned the weekly meetings, taught the Bible study, and built a strategy to reach our campus for Christ. It was a wonderful year in which several students came to Christ and we grew to an attendance of 35 students. Through that experience God called me to preach, and, after receiving my degree in petroleum engineering, my wife and I moved to Fort Worth, Texas to attend Southwestern Seminary.
I reflect on my BSU experience with gratitude that Southern Baptists cooperate to reach the world for Christ. There was no other Christian group on my college campus – only Southern Baptists – and from that I learned that we must cooperate if we are to accomplish big things, particularly big things in out-of-the-way places.
I met my wife of 39 years, Paula, at the Central Baptist Church, Bakersfield, CA. I worked in a nearby oil field as a “summer engineer” and attended her church. We married during our junior year in college. We have two sons, Rett and Luke, both married, and both love Jesus and attend SBC churches where they live.
Paula and I moved to Texas in 1983 so that I could attend SWBTS in Fort Worth. We spent 11 years in Texas, where I obtained two degrees and pastored two churches. Both churches started other churches during those years. My first pastorate was Fairview Baptist Church, Rhome, TX which had dwindled to 10 attenders and hadn’t baptized anybody in four years. God blessed our 3 ½ years there with many coming to faith in Christ, we grew to about 35, and we even started another church in nearby Newark, TX. Lifelong friendships were made in that church.
I pastored Central Baptist in Italy, TX for 4 ½ years. This was a great church in a small town, with some of the most wonderful people we’ve ever known. While there I travelled to Pakistan where my parents were serving with the IMB (a great story there!), and that trip changed my life and the direction of our ministry. Shortly thereafter we moved to McAlester, OK where I pastored FBC, and it was there that missions, evangelism and community engagement became focal points of our ministry, together with biblical preaching and God-centered worship. What God did in our almost 11
years there was remarkable and led to many other ministry opportunities, including speaking at several IMB meetings, Falls Creek Youth Camp, and eventually I was asked to lead the evangelism and mission’s team of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. During my 8 years in that role I learned a great deal about the strategic importance of partnership between the state convention and local associations, as well as with national SBC entities. Really, through that role I learned how the SBC functions, and how it functions best. In addition to statewide evangelism strategies like Across Oklahoma and My316, I oversaw church planting and all missions, both domestic and international partnerships. It was great preparation for the capstone of my ministry, which is to serve the churches of the Northwest Baptist Convention (Washington, Oregon, north Idaho).
We began serving in the Northwest in 2013. It was a coming home for me, in many ways, and a tremendous opportunity to provide leadership in reaching one of North America’s great mission fields. We have seen about 125 church planters begin their work during these years, with a net increase of 60 congregations. We established our first-ever international mission partnership with IMB partners in East Asia. Hundreds of Northwesterners from dozens of churches have served through this partnership, with one trip alone including 163 volunteers from 32 churches, and another with 113 from 23 churches. Baptisms have increased, with 2019 being our largest increase ever, due in large measure to a movement of God among Spanish-speaking migrant workers in NW Washington State.
In addition to leading the convention ministry, my ministry includes preaching weekly in our churches, and teaching preaching, evangelism, and leadership classes for Gateway Seminary. My wife and I are also personally involved in a ministry in Myanmar. I like to say that it is a good day to serve the Lord, and it is a good day to serve Him in the Northwest. That it is.