Pastor of College and Missions
For as long as I can remember, I have seen the power of God at work. My parents work for the International Mission Board, so much of my childhood was watching God do marvelous things in the developing world. By God’s grace, my parents faithfully shared the gospel with me and I came to know Jesus as Lord and savior at a young age. I was raised in the Dominican Republic (before it was the go to tourist destination) and we loved it. By the end of elementary school, my parents were transferred to be over the Island of Cuba. Since Cuba is a communist country, we lived in south Florida and my parents would fly in and out to do ministry.
When we moved to Florida, I immediately felt the need to try and fit in. Being raised in a foreign country had some advantages and disadvantages. The advantages were that I was able to pick up and understand culture with ease. This made it very easy to make friends. However, the disadvantage was that I learned that I could become a chameleon and become whoever was around me. This made some of my middle and high school years difficult for me spiritually. I fought really hard for acceptance and for approval and at times I would compromise my faith to get it.
Rather than finding my identity in Christ, I found my approval through friends and sports. I was a decent athlete growing up and I had the privilege of played baseball in college. Sports became my god during my middle/high/early college years. I wanted to be a professional athlete but God had other plans for me. God stopped me in my tracks during my sophomore year of college when I went on a mission trip to Nigeria. While I was in Nigeria, I contracted the deadliest and rarest form of malaria in the world. After returning from the trip I became ill and very nearly lost my life. I remember laying in the hospital dying not knowing whether or not I was going to make it another day. Due to the physical trauma, the doctors put me in a coma and started an aggressive treatment plan. I was breath to breath for 4 days as to whether I would live or die. By the grace of God, he allowed me to live. God used malaria to break me from my idols. He used it to injure me and to bring me into submission. I thank God every day that he did!
Malaria not only broke me it also opened my eyes to God’s mission. God opened my eyes to all of my close friends who were without Christ. God lit a fire in me to share the gospel with everyone I knew. Many people were able to come to Christ through this experience. Eventually, God showed me that he was using this experience to call me into ministry. I used to wonder if there could have been an easier way to get my attention, but God needed to break me!
I am so thankful for the journey God has taken me on. I’m especially thankful for my life partner, Jessica, and my two beautiful daughters. God has lavished his grace on me. I’m undeserving, but eternally grateful!