I grew up on a 1,100-acre ranch in Eastern Oklahoma, which taught me the importance of character and hard work. That was a lifetime ago, but I never lost that influence in my life. My love of sports began at an early age, culminating in playing football for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Junior College and again as a walk-on at the University of Arkansas, where I would graduate in 1975.
I began sensing God’s call to the ministry during my college years. On my commissioning physical to go active duty as an officer in the United States Marine Corps in August of 1975, God changed my life. A bee sting allergy nullified my six-year obligation to fly and be on active duty.
So, in November of 1975, on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University, I began a student ministry called the “Followers Fellowship,” where I would discover my life purpose. In 1977, I started my first pastorate at a Free Methodist Church, a church plant outside Tulsa, Oklahoma. During that time, I pursued a Master of Divinity degree at Oral Roberts School of Theology, at the time, a fully accredited United Methodist Seminary.
Ten years later, in 1987, I accepted an opportunity to pastor a small congregation in Brentwood, Tennessee: New Hope Community Church. At that time, 20 families composed the core group of members. I spent 27 years as the senior pastor and saw growth, including two new building projects and an average attendance of 500 in Sunday morning worship. Through the years, New Hope gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to overseas and local missions. One year, it provided a quarter of a million dollars and helped establish New Hope Bible College, an English-speaking school training pastors from all over India.
In 2014, a year after I gave the church a vision for a planned leadership transition period, I stepped aside as the senior pastor to become the pastor of its members’ pastoral care. I officially retired in June of 2019 after forty-two years of ministry and was honored as Pastor Emeritus of New Hope.
Cathy, the unsung hero, confidant, and strength of my life, married in 1976. We have two children, Joel and his wife, Joanna, and Laura and her husband, Justin. We are also proud of six beautiful granddaughters.
Joshua 1:8 continues to be a guiding truth for my life: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” NIV