The last day of college, I packed all my stuff into my pickup and took off for home with no idea what the future would hold. On my way home, there were so many cops out. I passed 11 of them which is unusual because there were typically none. Finally, one pulled out right behind me and pulled me over for no reason (he said it was because I had an air freshener hanging from my rear view mirror). He asked to search my vehicle and threatened to get a warrant. I ended up getting arrested for having some pot plants and my personal stash. I lost my driver’s license for the summer! I’m convinced I had been set up as my room-mate had also been arrested a couple weeks before…
But, that turned out to be a good thing because, after finding a job, there was a girl I was working with who lived pretty close to me and she was willing to drive me around. We became good friends and fell in love. We were married by December of that same year (and just had our 19th anniversary).
We were very, very different though (and still are). I was the dark, mysterious one. She was the high school jock and very popular. I was vegetarian and she wasn’t. I was extremely spiritually minded and wanted to get rid of all the furniture and sit on pillows. She didn’t–and had no interest in my spiritual ideas. I was into obscure music. She was into pop music. The list goes on… But, we were interesting complements and learned to appreciate each other as is.
At first, we were really having a bitter struggle. I was pretty deep into my spiritual stuff. In Buddism, there are three parts–taking refuge in Buddha (the man), the Dharma (his teachings), and the Sangha (fellowship with other believers). I had the first two, but wanted the third in my life. So, I started meditating with my friends and having gatherings and going out and meeting other people who were into the same thing. I had some pretty close friends in my spiritual world. And just as I was about to take my Buddhist vows with one of my friends, something major happened…
One day my mom’s car broke down and I was giving her a ride to work. We got to talking about spiritual things and she mentioned that there was a man who would come into her work and tell her about Bible prophecy. According to his studies, he had determined that the world was going to end at the end of the summer. I was curious! If that was true, then what! So, I asked her if I could meet with him to have him show me. At that point, she handed me a flyer to a seminar that was coming up about Bible prophecy. It was going to be held in a motel conference room in town and would last about 6 weeks. I was very interested in going as I hoped they might shed some light on this prophecy this guy was talking about. So, I went–to every meeting except one.
I had absolutely no interest in becoming a Christian or joining a church when I went to the meetings, but I was open to hearing what the Bible taught. As I sat night by night and listened, I started to realize that I had no idea what the Bible taught before. I thought it was all about saying a prayer and being forgiven and that was about it. But, I was starting to learn that it was A LOT deeper than that. A couple of the prophecies I learned in the beginning were amazingly impressive! In Daniel ch. 2, the Bible lays out ancient history from Babylon to modern day Europe–2500 years in advance! I was blown away.
As I started to gain some confidence in the Bible, I was learning a lot about Jesus. Although I found Him interesting, that wasn’t really what I went to the meetings for and it started to annoy me. One night they talked about Satan and the war he is in with Jesus. They talked about how Satan doesn’t really want us to know he exists because he can deceive us more easily that way. By the end of the meeting, I was seriously thinking about the reality of Satan. If he was real, he would be deceiving me with all these other religions so that he could keep me from Jesus, wouldn’t he? That question really started to burn into my mind.
After a few weeks, I asked the speaker to come to my house because I wanted to talk to him about some of these personal questions I was having. I had a whole page written out about why Christianity thought it was the only religion and how I thought maybe one could be Buddhist, Christian, Taoist, etc. all together.
Our meeting was about two hours. In that time, he shared some Scriptures from the Bible that really got me thinking. The main ones were Matt. 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”. Also, in John 14:6 it says, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
It was clear that Jesus did not believe the same as I did and I had to choose who I was going to believe–myself or Him. That day, I decided to believe Him.
I began taking a personal inventory of my life. I went through everything in my house–from one corner to the other–looking for things that Satan had planted in my life to keep me from Jesus. Everything that I couldn’t identify as belonging to God went into the trash. I threw out Playboys, a bag of mushrooms, all my spiritual books, music, clothes, movies, etc., etc,. etc. When I was done, I had several giant black trash-bags out on the curb. I was ready for my new life with Jesus!
That new life took off pretty quickly! Within three months, I was at a Bible college learning to do seminars just like the one I had gone to. Less than a year after that, I was back at the College taking an advanced class. During that class, we went to Orlando Fl. and held a seminar. A few months later, we held another seminar in Rapid City, SD (my hometown). At this point, we formed a team and were given the opportunity to begin traveling all around the country holding seminars in various places. We went to Portland OR, Kansas City MO, and back to Orlando FL. We did a seminar on the campus of Georgia Tech. in Atlanta. I went to help with a meeting in Honduras. We did a couple in Grand Rapids MI. We were on the road for three years living like the apostles–not knowing where we would live, how we would survive, or how anything would work out. But, I learned that when you’re working for God those things find a way of working out–every time! We kept going… After the three years, I was offered a position as a Pastor in Michigan. I took it and worked there for the next five years. I Pastored four different churches in that five years. I also had the opportunity to go to Panama to hold a seminar while I was Pastoring. I went back a year later, and did a second one. Through this, I began to feel a call to mission work and training. At the end of five years, I decided it was time to make the leap into mission work.
My mission service was a giant leap of faith for us. I knew people in Panama city, but I felt called to the Province of Chiriqui which was six hours away. I didn’t know anyone in that area. But, I had seen God always supply our needs so I pressed ahead anyway. Along the way, we met a couple who had some property in the mountains of Chiriqui and decided to team up with them.
I was given the opportunity out of the blue to briefly share what we were doing with a conference of 5000 people. Out of that we started to have students signing up to come to Panama for training. So, we bought tickets and flew off to our new adventure. It was some of the most exciting times of my life. We were smack dab in the palm of God’s hand. Either He took care of us or we would die in Panama. I guess you know what happened!
I could write story after story of how God took care of us (and I did write them all in our newsletters) but it would take pages to write them all here. Suffice it to say, we were eyewitnesses of incredible miracles. There is absolutely no way that anyone could ever talk me out of believing in the existence of God–I have seen Him over and over with my own eyes–maybe not in person, but in His providences.
The year after working in Panama, we moved our operation to Belize instead to avoid the language barrier we found in Panama. All of our students were from English speaking countries, so in training them we wanted to remove a needless obstacle. We held our second course in the southern part of Belize. Along the way, we met a guy who was also doing mission work in Belize during the spring each year.
After leaving Belize (feeling that God was closing the doors on the project) we ended up moving to Sonora, CA which is where my friend from Belize lived. Interestingly, one of my friends from South Dakota (who was part of the prophecy team I was on and who I had been friends with before becoming a Christian) also moved to Sonora at the same time to become the Pastor of the local church there.
We’ve lived here in Sonora now for five years which has been nice. In the ten years prior to moving here, we had moved a total of 30 times! That’s a lot of moving with a wife and two daughters!
At this point in my life, I still have a lot of dreams that I hope to fulfill. I’d like to start a non-profit to help people who are struggling in life. I would like to train them to have more skills and to be more qualified to find work. I want to have a farm in the country where people can come and get a new, fresh start on life. I also want to help people with addiction someday when I am over mine.
That brings up the white elephant in the room, doesn’t it? If God has been so amazing in my life, why am I struggling with a porn addiction? How could God have been using me all that time when I was still having cycles of addiction in my life? Well, those are questions I’ve wrestled with all along and I’d like to address them in my next post. I have to admit I get uncomfortable about it, but it needs to be discussed and I need to face it.
Here’s the next post dealing with that… “A Christian Porn Addict…”