Soli Deo Gloria – The Short Version
God called me.
God strengthened me.
God protected me.
God sent me.
Soli Deo Gloria – The Long Version
As a young child growing up in a pastor’s home God’s Word was never far from my hearing. At nine years old I came under conviction of my sin and realized that I needed God’s help to overcome the sin in my life. My mother lead me to an understanding of salvation as I prayed the sinner’s prayer. I was baptized two years later in the algae filled waters of Lake Chetek, Wisconsin. My life was filled with service, and I answered a call to preach when I was eighteen years old.
I spent a year on the mission field in South Korea working in a non-denominational church on a US Military Base as well as teaching ESL in a Christian School. I returned to the states burdened for people of South Korea. I enrolled at Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Watertown, Wisconsin. My junior year at MBBC was a terrible time and had me at odds with the professors and even the doctrinal statement of the school. I went home and my father asked me a simple question, “Well son, what do you believe?”
I had been working so hard to be in ministry I had never taken time to ‘make sure’ of my salvation.
That winter was the time I came to realize that Grace was something I sang about and preached about, but something that I had no control over. The working of God in my life was just beginning to be seen. I studied the word and read John Calvin’s works. I returned to school that January with the “5 points” for my defense against the Arminian mindset of some of my professors and decided that I wasn’t a “5 Pointer”; I was a 32 pointer. (The irony seemed to be lost that the London Baptist Confession of Faith has 32 Chapters)
Service from gratitude
After graduation from MBBC, I began work in an independent Baptist church where I was witness to my wife’s acceptance of God’s will in her life and to see her not only saved but baptized a short while later. Young in her faith I was able to help her as she began to study more intently. We moved to Wyoming to follow a job looking for ministry.
Contentment spread in my life and I was able to become the Youth Director at an SBC church in Buffalo, Wyoming where the pastor and other’s continued to encourage my spiritual growth. My reading was somewhat dampened with the inability to access the college library I had come to love.
Through a series of events our lives were turned upside down and we moved four times in three years. We ended up in Illinois having our fourth child and unsure of what God had planned for us. A full year of wandering through a spiritual desert passed before we were introduced to Maranatha Baptist Church. After phone conversations with Pastor Ivan Schoen I realized this was a work we must see. A short while later our family was able to visit Maranatha and instantly we knew this was the place in which God had chosen us to minister.
For a time I served as an ordained associate Pastor at Maranatha Baptist Church (SBC) in Poplar Grove, Illinois and work along side Pastor Schoen in the ministry there. I had become active in our regional and state association with intentions of continuing to lead from behind. About a year later, I began discussions with the Illinois Baptist State Association (IBSA) and investigating opportunities with North American Mission Board (NAMB) to serve and operate as a church planter in my region.
Accidental Church Planting
We didn’t intend for it to happen. We found that our children needed more and we needed more. Our hunger for God lead us to start a simple Bible Study among friends in our home in Rockford. This Bible study lead to a group of people calling me “Pastor” and we started Living Stones Fellowship in our home in Rockford. One thing led to another and we constituted as Living Stones Rockford as a non-Denominational Church.
Currently we are in two churches as a teaching elder and a pastor to both. God has provided wonderful people to come along side us in the ministry. A few years ago the pastor of Halsted Road Baptist Church realized he was being called to a church in Georgia and that this church could not afford to call another pastor. Our Living Stones needed a new place to meet and Halsted Road would soon need a pastor. God put it all together and now, two distinct churches with one common heart for the Gospel of Christ.
As the two churches began to get to know one another and trust each other, God also lead Grace Baptist Vietnamese Church to come inside the building and begin their church plant growth. And if that wasn’t crazy enough, God has led a Spanish Speaking pastor and family to the church as well with a vision of reaching our neighbor hood for the Glory of God. !!Gloria a Dios!!
May it be to God’s Glory that I live or I die.
I don’t know what God will do in the future but He has firmly planted us here and turned our hearts to the people of the city. We have adopted three children with our own making a total of seven and with a family in the church having a tragic accident we have now two more children (brothers) with a pending adoption. Yup nine Kids.
Since you have read this far, I would ask of you one favor. “Will you pray for us and the ministry God has called us to?” Pray that we live life honestly and open before God and man. Pray that the provision of the Lord will be so obvious for our children as they follow Christ. Pray for the heart of our city and the many lives and contacts with the Gospel to bear fruit.