I was born in Chicago, Illinois in June of 1989 to parents that love the Lord and who were determined to raise their children in a way to please God. I am the oldest of four children. My parents were very strict when it came to standards in our home. We did not have a television, internet, video games, or cell phones as kids. We attended a small independent Baptist church in the city where the Bible was preached, believed, and lived to the most part. But even in this small assembly of “Bible Thumpers,” our family was one of the most separated. So, because of that, I grew up without many “friends.”
When I was eight years old, our church went through a major split. The majority of the church left over some issues that I was too young to even understand at the time and that are irrelevant now, but when the split was over, the church consisted of only 3 families. The men of the church decided that my dad would be the best man to be pastor of our little church. So, for the next five years, I was a preacher’s kid.
During this time in my life, I developed a major sense of pride. I felt that because of our “extreme” separation, that I was somehow better that the rest of the entire world. I felt that our family was better that all others and that we had no friends because nobody was good enough to be our friends.
When I was thirteen years old, my dad felt that the Lord was leading him to move to a small town in South Carolina, Beaufort. There was local bible believing church in that town named Calvary Baptist Church. The pastor and many men of that church had been very good mentors to my dad when he was newly saved and so it was the desire of his heart to move there. When we arrived to Beaufort, I was in culture shock. Not with the town, but with the church and the members in it. The people were so real and kind and the church seemed to function together in unity. The atmosphere was warmer and the people friendlier. The people were not ashamed of God and it seemed that they all were willing to serve Him.
For the first time in my life, I did not feel as if I was better than everyone else. I felt out of place amongst this group of Christians. But I wanted acceptance from this group of people, so I began to be very active in the church. By the time I was 15, I was involved in 2 separate nursing home ministries, sang in the church choir, played an instrument in the church orchestra, and went faithfully on visitation and even street preached on occasions. I also made myself available to help regularly at the church cutting grass and performing maintenance on the buildings. So, by doing all this, I thought that others would think of me as a good Christian teenager and they would elevate me to almost “sainthood.” And I was right, they did.
So, eventually my sense of pride came back, and stronger than ever. But there also came a sense of guilt, that somehow, I was not doing all that I was doing for the right reasons. I was not happy at all. Sure, I enjoyed to be seen by others as a Christian kid, but I really had no desire to serve God in my heart. I began to think that I was missing something in my life. I told myself that I was already a Christian, so I thought that I must be backslid, but somehow, I could not find peace, no matter what I did.
About this same time, there was a man in our church by the name of Mike. He had shown a great interest in me as a young man and was always inviting me to go fishing, shrimping, or hunting with him, and I always accepted his invitation. I remember very vividly a conversation that we had one night when we were out on his boat. We were discussing the wonder of God’s creation and I just was not really interested in talking about it at that time. He seemed to notice that because he said, “Junior, are you saved?” For some reason, I answered that I was not sure if I was lost or simply backslid because I had no peace. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Well, if you have no peace, then I would reckon to say you ain’t saved.” That night on his boat I did not get saved, but he prayed out loud for me right there. At the end of that night, when he was driving me home, he gave me some verses to read in the Bible.
The next night, he asked me if I had read the verses he had given me. I lied and told him I had but that I did not understand them. But he knew I was lying to him, and if I had read the verses I would have known I was too. One of the main verses he had given me was Isaiah 57:21 which says” There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” When he explained that to me, I saw that I had no peace because I was wicked, but I still did not want to admit that I was not a Christian. I just wanted to believe that I had “gone astray” from God and needed to get back to Him.
I battled with this issue for 3 weeks. During that time, I tried to ask God to save me, I had asked him to take me back, and I had cried and tried to remind God that I was a good person. But on December 12th, I was sitting in church in our Sunday night service. I remember being so upset that I could not find peace. I simply bowed my head and told God I needed an answer. I would serve him if he would just help me know the surety of my salvation. I simply told God that I would get saved immediately if the pastor would give an invitation that night. Now, our pastor rarely ever gives invitations, especially on Sunday evenings. But that night, as soon as I finished praying the request to God, the pastor gave an invitation right away. I almost ran to the alter that night and got saved for real. My search for peace was finally over. I did not have a magical feeling rush through me; I simply felt relief that I had finally made peace with God.
Accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior was the best choice I ever made. After I got saved, I continued serving in the church, but now my motives are different. I serve to please the Lord, not other people. When I was a senior in high school, I began to pray about the Lord’s will for my life, and it seemed as if the Lord was leading me to go to Bible School. Our church, at that time, had a three-year course available to any men who were interested in sacrificing a significant amount of their time to learn the Bible. So, I signed up for the program and graduated three years later with a piece of paper to prove it.
During this time, I had become engaged and married to my high school sweetheart. We both decided that we would be open to whatever the Lord would have us do with our lives for Him, whether it was to serve him as members of our local church, or to go to a field away from here. Almost 2 years after I graduated from bible school, the Lord gave me an incredible burden to serve him more in the ministry. The Lord opened the door for us to work with the young people in our church, and for 3 years we poured all of our energy into that ministry.
In July of 2014, an opportunity came up for me to be able to preach at a little church in Brunswick GA that was looking for pastor. After much prayer and counselling, I agreed to officially candidate for the position of pastor. The church voted to ask me to come and I accepted the offer shortly after. We were excited to serve God in this capacity and enjoyed seeing the Lord work in our lives and the lives of the people to which I was called to minister.
In the summer of 2018, the Lord began to deal with my heart about leaving the work in Brunswick and pursuing foreign missions. Since, I did not know a specific direction, I just waited and prayed. In October of 2018, My wife and I had the wonderful opportunity to take a trip to Papua New Guinea to visit our friends, the fairs. It was during this trip that the Lord put a tremendous burden on my heart to go to Papua New Guinea as a missionary. I saw that although there are churches, there is a need for someone to come and “strengthen the things that remain” by providing solid Bible teaching and training future men for the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Please pray that the Lord will bless this new chapter of our lives and direct us into His perfect will moving forward.