I surrendered to the ministry over 17 years ago while on a mission trip to Mexico. I started out as a volunteer, then took a bi-vocational position and have since moved into three different full-time church staff positions. Over the years, God has equipped me with a softened heart for the lost and the needy who have it harder than we do here in America. I didn’t know it at the time, but my journey to VisionTrust started about four years ago.
I was going into my sixth year on staff at a church in a small, rural town in Kansas when I took two high school senior guys from my youth group to a CROSS Missions Conference as a way to invest in them one last time before they graduated from high school. I went to be there for them and keep them on task, but I wasn’t expecting God to move on me like He did. I came back with this burning desire to get into full-time mission work, but really didn’t know how or what to do. So I prayed about it and started looking at a few non-profit and mission organizations.
I eventually submitted my resume to a few organizations and even got a few calls back, but there was one thing I was hung up on and couldn’t shake: each of those potential positions would require me to raise my own support. I was scared to death. To be honest, I wasn’t trusting God with that aspect of this new direction He was moving me toward. So I brushed it aside, dove back into ministry at my church, and continued like normal. However, things weren’t normal; I had this tug on my heart that God wouldn’t let me forget. I was now in the latter part of my sixth year on staff as the youth pastor and I started seeing and feeling things within leadership meetings that didn’t sit right with me, and sensed in my spirit that God was telling me it was time and to be ready for a change. After a series of events later that same year, I found myself experiencing hurt like I had never experienced before, and had no choice but to resign my position. Later that year God opened up a new youth ministry position for me at a church in Lawrence, Kansas. I started this new position in December of 2014.
In September 2015, I was looking at some posts on a private youth ministry page on Facebook when a post from Mark Cornelison stood out to me. In essence, he was sharing his journey to VisionTrust and also a little about what this organization is and how they impacted the world. He stated at the end of the post if anyone would like more information to please reply. I read that post and replied to him. We began talking and I shared with him about what God had been up to in my life. I shared my struggle with guilt and how I was sensing that I was being moved in a different direction after just being hired at a new church. I also shared with him my story of how I resigned from my previous position. He listened and then he stated, “Man, you are saying the same things I said two years ago.” He suggested that we pray about where God may be moving me for a couple of weeks. I did that very thing. Two weeks later, Mark and I reconnected over the phone and he asked me to send my resume to him so as to forward to VisionTrust. I just had to see if God was in this and was excited to see where God took it.
Later that month, I had a telephone interview with Heather Neely, and she invited me to their All-Staff meetings which were to be held in Colorado Springs in November. This was all so fast and sudden! I had just started a new church position nine months earlier, yet I was confident that God was opening this door to VisionTrust. As a result, I went to those meetings, willing to accept a position if one was offered to me.
As I talked with my wife before I left, I told her I had just two things that I was looking for within VisionTrust. First, I wanted to see a Kingdom-focused ministry, not just a “pat themselves on their back” type of humanitarian ministry that bragged about all the things they accomplished. Secondly, I wanted to see how the other employees of VisionTrust interacted with each other and with me—a total stranger. It was so comforting to me to see after the first day that VisionTrust truly was Christ-focused. I loved how each meeting was kicked off with prayer, Bible study, and worship! It also didn’t take me long to realize that there were some remarkable people with very soft hearts for those around the world. I was welcomed as if I was already a member of the team—and I was a complete outsider!
It is awesome to see how patient and loving God is. After all, I was on staff at a church, but to be honest, I was getting comfortable. I really didn’t have to rely much on God because I had things “figured out.” However, when I resigned from that position, I found that I needed to trust Him more than ever before to provide for my family. I was moved from a position where I was earning a nice salary in a small town with a low cost of living, to a new church with a $14,000 pay cut and a higher cost of living. Remember my lack of trust with raising financial support? God has proven to me through this series of events that I can trust Him! Now, He has me in the position to raise my own support with VisionTrust. This is a bit scary and a humbling experience for me, but I wouldn’t want to be any other place than where I am now! It’s so amazing to look back and see God’s hand in this journey. I am very excited to be a part of this team and cannot wait to see how God will use my gifts and talents within this organization!