Since moving to Pleasanton in October 2015 to pastor the Pleasanton Evangelical Free Church, many people have asked me where I am from. My answer: nowhere and everywhere. My Dad was in the Navy and my Mom worked for the Federal Government. So, I moved quite a bit. I was born in Salt Lake City, UT but only live there for 6 month. I have lived in Pensacola, FL; Corpus Christi, TX; Ann Arbor, MI (yes, I know that’s home of the Michigan Wolverines but I am learning to be Team Big Red); Stockton and Ventura, CA; Jacksonville, FL; Lanham and Waldorf, MD (20 miles from Washington, D.C.); and then Belleville, KS to Pleasanton, NE. As you can see, it’s not an easy answer and I also spent a few months in Greece as a toddler.
I worked in the motorcycle business in my twenties at a Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Ducati dealership in Ventura. I started as a mechanic, then parts, and then sales. I then transitioned to working for CSX in their real estate department, which is when I felt God’s call to go to Bible College and then Seminary. After graduating from Seminary in 2004, I immediately started teaching at the Bible College and the Seminary where I graduated. While teaching, I served as a Youth Pastor, Teaching Pastor, and Preaching Pastor at various churches, mostly Chinese Churches in the DC area. Though I am Caucasian and don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese, the Chinese churches warmly embraced our family. In all of these roles I have had the privilege of counseling on a wide variety of issues helping a wide variety of people. Helping people move from surviving to thriving in their life is at the heart of my ministry. I am not a licensed counselor, I am biblical counselor helping both believers and unbelievers learn to thrive emotionally, relationally, physically, intellectually and spiritually. If you need someone to talk to or know someone who might, I would be privileged to help.
I graduated from Washington Bible College (WBC) in 2001 Valedictorian (I am actually a high school drop out and graduating at the top of my class is a testament to the amazing grace of God) . I continued preparing for ministry by entering Capital Bible Seminary (CBS). I entered CBS pursing the Master of Divinity (MDiv); however, after a year in the program God called me to expand my pursuits to both the MDiv and the Masters of Arts in Christian Counseling and Discipleship (MACCD). In 2004, by God’s grace and with gracious support of my family, I graduated with both degrees. For me, it was the perfect equipping of my head, my hands and my heart. I have served in ministry for over 20 years in a wide variety of capacities. I just finished a decade-long career as a Professor in Christian Counseling and Discipleship at CBS before transitioning to full-time pastor.
I met my wife while working for CSX. March 5th of 2016 will mark 17 years of marriage with Kim, my beautiful, giving, caring and talented wife. She works for Pleasanton Schools as a Para. Five years ago she turned her passion for photography into a career pursuit by opening CapturingYou.Photography. She focuses on family, infant and senior pictures. Kim’s labor of love is being a wife and a mother. We have two adopted sons. The oldest, Lucas turned 9 in May and is a tremendous blessing despite his special needs. Levi is our youngest son. He turned 7 in July and both boys are proud Pleasanton Bulldogs.
I think generally there are two kinds testimonies: the first, is that of the Pharisee and the second, is that of the Prodigal son. The Pharisee is the kind of person who feels their story is boring when compared to the Prodigal son. They grew up in church and tried to follow the rules. The other is that of the Prodigal son. This person typically becomes rebellious as an adolescent and squanders the blessings given to him by his parents. Unfortunately, the latter describes my life. I am a prodigal. After my parents divorced when I was five, I began a life of fear, rejection, independence and self-reliance. I thought that if I did not rely on people then I would not get hurt. My response to the rejection was anger and rebellion. This manifested itself in my teenage years by pursuing drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll. I left home, dropped out of high school half way through my senior year and thought I could make life work on my own. My life was spiraling more and more out of control. This life eventually led me to great poverty in every sense—financially, relationally, emotionally, physically and certainly spiritually. What a great job I had done on my own, I became homeless and destitute. I was living in a condemned house, scrapping pennies to buy a pint a milk to share with a woman twice my age. The hand of Christ reached down into my despair in the form of my Mom. This wasn’t the moment of my conversion, but looking back, it was rock bottom; she set me on a path toward Christ. Rescued from this destitute life by my Mom a few years before my 21st birthday, I began to gradually get my life back on track. Miraculously, God was also working on my Dad around this time and he placed his faith in Jesus. He shared with me a love relationship he was having with a man. “A man!” I said. He said the man’s name was Jesus. He explained the Gospel to me, that I was sinner (which I certainly already knew) but God’s grace was available to me because Jesus Christ has suffered the penalty I deserved on the cross 2,000 years ago. His resurrection offered me a new life if I would trust in His provision for my sins. I am glad I accepted this exchange and turned my life over to His control. That was over 20 years ago and Jesus has been faithful to me everyday. It is this past that has helped me be sympathetic to those hurting and struggling in life. This is why I pursed a Masters degree in Christian Counseling and Discipleship.
Why Pleasanton Evangelical Free Church in Pleasanton, Nebraska?
Before coming to Pleasanton we lived in Belleville,KS for 18 months. We had never lived in the rural midwest before. It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with this area. What we love about this area is we have all the strengths of living in a small town (knowing people, walking home from school, community, friendliness) with all the blessings of a city like Kearney right next door. We were drawn to the friendliness of the people of Pleasanton Evangelical Free Church. They are a community of people that treat one another like family and welcome new people into the family. We are very excited to be here. It is not just the church but the entire community has been great. We have a son in a wheelchair who has significant challenges but the Pleasanton school staff has gone above and beyond to make Lucas feel welcome and thrive. We couldn’t be more pleased as parents. We are very excited about what God is doing at Pleasanton EFree. Those currently attending have laid a strong foundation and we are ready for growth. One of the greatest things that excites me is to see the 20 somethings to 30 somethings attending our church. According to all the statistics they are not attending church, but they are here. I look forward to seeing more young families join Pleasanton EFree, especially those who may have had a negative experience with church or who have never gone to church. We have a just about every age group and it feels like family.