My family background hails from the Chicagoland area where I was brought up in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The recession of the 80’s found my dad laid off before finding work for a lean $5/hour. He redeemed the hour-long commute by listening to evangelical leaders like Chuck Swindoll, D. James Kennedy, and James Dobson on the radio and tapes of Alexander Scourby reading the Bible. God used this to get hold of his heart, and he eventually served on our church’s outreach team using “Evangelism Explosion.” A group of them started getting together for more fellowship and intensive Bible study. Breaking rank with the LCMS, my dad embraced the doctrines of the believer’s eternal security in Christ and the pre-tribulational rapture of the Church, the Body of Christ. A primary catalyst toward the spiritual growth of this group was a “chance-meeting” with a man who introduced a dispensational understanding of the Scriptures according to what is known as “the Grace Message” of mid-Acts dispensational theology.
The religious environment of my upbringing gave me many ingredients necessary to the gospel but not the biblical recipe needed to be brought into a personal relationship with Christ as Savior. God brought my young heart to Himself in a powerful way in the early 90’s through an AWANA children’s Bible club where the clarity of the gospel was presented. He saved me by His grace through faith alone in Christ when His Spirit convicted my heart, and I personally believed that He died for my sins, was buried, and rose again (1 Cor 15:3-4; Eph 2:8-9). A few years later, God led our family to a Grace church where I grew in my understanding of the Word of God according to the dispensational principle of Bible study historically called “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15 cf. Is 61:1-3; Lk 4:17-21). This biblical framework is clearly understood in light of “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” of God’s grace as unfolded through the distinctive nature of Paul’s apostleship and message recorded in his epistles (Rom.16:25-27; Col.1:24-26). The pulpit ministry of Pastor Ricky Kurth, current editor of The Berean Searchlight and Adult Sunday School teacher, Vern Simmons, were instrumental in my early years of walking with God and later call into ministry.
Lori and I met in the late 90’s at Trinity Christian College in southwest Chicago. The Lord’s call on my life was abundantly clear, so after our wedding, we moved to the Milwaukee area for training at Berean Bible Institute under Dr. Bedore, Pastor Wolgast, and the late Dr. Sadler among many others. Since that time, I have graduated from BBI and St. Louis Theological Seminary and Bible College, studied in the MDiv program at Liberty University Online, and am nearing completion of an MA in Ministry from Grace Christian University (formerly Grace Bible College). I am grateful to have been ordained by my home church as well as Grace Gospel Fellowship and have served on TCM’s board of directors for over five years.
Over the years, I have served in pastoral ministry at Grace churches in remarkably different regions: Denver, Dayton, D.C., and the Dells. With that kind of alliteration, it just seems fitting to be serving now as TCM’s Development Director! I have also taught at Community Christian School and regularly speak at Northern Grace Youth Camp besides other events like the Grace Family Conference.
God has blessed Lori and me with six children: Timothy (12), Luke (11), Elijah (9), Bethany (7), Grace (5), and Noah (3). As a pastor and homeschool dad, my double-whammy “kryptonite” is treasure hunting at used book sales and thrift stores besides exploring new family adventures at state parks or historical sites.
With this background, training, and experience, it is a tremendous honor and joy to be called to serve with TCM as the Development Director. Our new ministry is multi-faceted but primarily focused on the three dynamics of reigniting, recruiting, and revitalizing.
Reigniting a Passion for Prayer and Mission Partnership
“I’d rather have you pray for me than give money!” TCM pioneer, Joe Watkins, was resolute with this bold request because he understood that apart from dependence on God in prayer, ministry is utterly futile. He also knew that prayer leads to passion and passion leads to action. Joe’s life experience confirmed that prayer is used of God to affect the physical circumstances of life (Phil.1:19; Col.4:3). This includes the financial partnership of the Body of Christ supporting missionaries who are bringing the light of the gospel of grace into the darkness of this world where hell-bound multitudes are facing a Christ-less eternity. It is a principle of life that Christ affirmed in His earthly ministry to Israel that money follows the heart (Matt.6:19). When our hearts are therefore turned toward God in humility before the sovereign majesty of His glory and grace at Calvary, giving money to missionaries is spiritual fruit of the obedience of faith (Phil.4:17).
Of particular note, are TCM’s Team Missionaries serving in some dangerous areas of SE Asia. These Filipinos are rapidly deployed to the field after going through our intensive training regimen called Grace Theological Center for Mission. Our current partnership with TCM-Philippines is that their churches are responsible for 1/3 of the Teams’ support while TCM-USA is responsible for raising the other 2/3 among the comparably affluent American grace churches. Bottom-line, if you believe in mission, pray for mission!
Recruiting Visionary Leaders to Live on Mission “in Christ”
A Marine Corps recruiter was left with a mere fraction of the time that others were given due to the long-windedness of some at a massive assembly of high school students. Having only 60 seconds to spare, he stood there eyeing up the students for close to half of his time. Then he issued a bold challenge, “I doubt that even ten of you have what it takes to be a United States Marine.” Unsurprisingly, dozens of young men were lined up afterwards to speak with him. In similar fashion, Almighty God is also looking “for a few good men” and women who will answer His call to enlist in the Savior’s service (2 Chr.16:9; 2 Tim.2:4).
TCM is praying for a generation of young people to surrender to the call of God into gospel ministry as missionaries and pastors (Matt.9:37-38; 2 Tim.2:2). Their hearts are on fire for the glory of God and are counted among those “of whom the world is not worthy” because to them “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Heb.11:38; Phil.1:21). Their minds abound with wisdom to understand the times through a biblical worldview, vision to see beyond what is to what ought to be, and courage to take action by radical faith in God to do something awesome in and through their lives to the praise of His glory (1 Chr.12:32; Eph.5:15-17). TCM understands that living on mission “in Christ” flows out of the biblical truth that Christ gave His life for us to give His live to us in order to live His life through us by the practical reality of His resurrection (Rom.6:3-4; Gal.2:20). Just as the Marines are known as “the few and the proud” due their intense combat training and service, TCM is also “lean and mean” in that we are recruiting those with resolute conviction who have raised the white flag of surrender to the LORD of hosts saying, “Here am I! Send me” (Is.6:8 cf. Rom.12:1; 1 Cor.6:20).
Revitalizing Churches to Missionally-Engage Culture
What would you do if our country was plunged into nuclear holocaust and the radiation engulfed the world into a proverbial “zombie apocalypse” except that your family and church was entrusted with the medical antidote to reclaim people’s lives? What kind of difference would it make in your lifestyle today if you discovered that your family was transported back in time to an ancient civilization in an era of history where the light of the gospel was completely absent? How would the mission and vision of your family and church change if you were planted right in the middle of a region in the world today where you were the only evangelical Christian witness? It is true that when we are out of our comfort zone that we have a greater sense of urgency of purpose. Having said that, why should it make a difference in how we pattern our lives and strategically target our communities whether we live in a context like that or not?
TCM has a vested interest in the health and vitality of the American Grace Church because we are partners in our stewardship responsibility before God in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor.5:18-6:2). Missionary pioneer, Vernon Anderson, once said that “I need you. You need me. We need each other!” This is the interdependence of the Body of Christ to which the Lord has called us in the Church both here and abroad. We are morally accountable before God as “the pillar and ground of the truth” to bring the light of the gospel into the darkest places of culture where many will die and go straight to hell without ever hearing of Jesus Christ (1 Tim.3:15; Heb.9:27). Local churches, wherever they are found, are the moral back pressure of salt and light in their respective communities who must missionally-engage otherwise darkness will continue to wreak havoc on people’s lives (Rom.13:11-14; Col.4:2-6). Is there not a cause? What say you?
Please pray for my family and I as we trust God in this new season of ministry with TCM. If you would like to learn more about our Team Missionaries in SE Asia, upcoming short-term mission trips, or other partnership opportunities, just let me know. Anything that I can do to come alongside your church, Bible study group, or ministry leadership team whether it is a Bible or mission conference, strategic planning meeting/retreat, or a visit any given Sunday would be an honor. Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook, or 608-403-7677. Thank you for your eagerness to partner together with TCM in “preparing people for Christ’s return through the methods of Apostle Paul” in light of the glory of the One who is worthy of all praise both now and forever.