I accepted the Lord at the age of four during Vacation Bible School at the church where my father was pastor in Southern California. The Lord gave me a burden for missions when I was seven years old; I knew that He wanted me to serve Him through missions. At the age of fourteen the Lord led me to Mexico for a year where I attended a Bible Institute, worked under a missionary and national pastors, and learned much about another culture.
I attended a Bible college in Northern California for two years before the Lord opened the door for me to go to Bob Jones University for training in missionary aviation and aircraft maintenance. The Lord helped me through those college days, and in 1998 I graduated. Although aviation is a unique tool, my heart is in working with the “people” – training them to reach and disciple their own.
In June of 1998 the Lord led me to Regeneration Reservation as a volunteer summer staff worker. I was to be part of a Summer Missionary Aviation team from Bob Jones University that was coming out at the beginning of July to work on the Cessna 182 that the Lord has provided for the ministry. (The Lord led me to join the aviation mission team the previous spring while I was finishing my senior year at BJU.) It was planned that I would stay to help out with maintenance and with the ministry at Regeneration Reservation after the team left in August. Pastor Murphy had kindly invited me to live at Regeneration while I worked in a nearby town so that I could pay off my school debt. Also, this would provide me with the opportunity to help the ministry and work with Pastor Murphy.
All the former plans quickly changed on July 11th. While on a hike with a summer team, I fell about sixty feet, puncturing my lungs, breaking my back, and shattering over twenty bones in my arms and wrists. The Lord protected me in the fall so that I did not damage my head. God in His providence had led a paramedic to that summer team. Within a few minutes Joe had his equipment bag and was working with others to stabilize me. Shortly thereafter I was airlifted by helicopter to Tucson Medical Center. There the doctors put me back together. One of my orthopedic surgeons told my family that he had never worked on arms and wrists that were so damaged because one did not usually live through such bodily trauma. Truly God had guided and protected me for a purpose.
The following five and a half weeks in the hospital revealed a part of God’s purpose and plan for me during this trial. Three people came to know the Lord during my hospitalization. One of these was a gentleman of eighty years. My father had witnessed to him and his wife, and they both accepted Christ. Two days later he died. I am grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to serve Him in such a special way. God graciously allowed me to witness and minister to many of the hospital staff. Just one soul won for Christ is an eternity of blessings that no suffering or pain can destroy. Although I do have some permanent nerve damage in my back and limitations in my wrists and elbows, I would not trade them for a perfect body if in some way my effectiveness for Him would be compromised. The processes the Lord uses to sanctify our lives, break our hearts, and lead us in a more perfect way are ones that many times we cannot understand. How precious His Word is in bringing comfort, peace, and absolute hope. It is a blessing to be able to rest in His perfect plan for our lives.
The Lord has brought a wonderful friend into my life, my wife, Cindy. We met while I was visiting her church in West Chester, Pennsylvania. It is exciting to have a life partner that is ministering alongside of me.
I was saved when I was 7 years old. I attended a Bible Club where I heard how Jesus died for my sins and that the only way to heaven was to accept Him as my personal Savior. That night when I got home I went to my room, bowed my head and asked Christ to forgive me of all my sins and come into my life.
When I was 8, I heard a missionary from Africa, and at that point I told the Lord that I was willing and wanted to serve Him on the mission field.
Life was not always easy after I was saved. I grew up in a broken home and had much bitterness in my heart. I wanted to become a better Christian, but was unwilling to deal with the sin in my heart. During my senior year in high school, my mother was killed in an automobile accident. My life seemed to be shattered. I couldn’t understand why God allowed that to happen. I did realize though that I either could accept it or become bitter over it. Through that difficult time the Lord taught me to trust in Him completely, even though I didn’t understand. I claimed II Corinthians 12:9-10 during that trial:
And He said unto me, my grace is sufficient for Thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
The Lord truly gave me a “peace that passeth all understanding” during that time.
After high school, I went to a one year discipleship program at a Christian camp. The Lord used that greatly to begin to break me of my pride and stubbornness. I learned many principles to live my life by.
The Lord then directed me to Bob Jones University where I studied elementary education. Through those four years I was seeking where God would have me. The desire to serve the Lord on the mission field was stronger than ever. However, the Lord continually closed doors as I pursued His will.
After college, the Lord directed me to West Chester, to teach in a Christian School. Throughout those five years I asked the Lord to show me where and when He wanted me to go on the mission field. The Lord led me to Regeneration Reservation by allowing me to meet Tom in May of 2003. We were married on August 21, 2004.