We have been married since 1994. We met at the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor in Belton, Texas from which we both graduated. After we married, I worked at UMHB and she started teaching school. I had experienced a call to ministry in high school but didn’t know exactly how that would play out, thankfully God had been working through a series of Godly men in my life to disciple and prepare me for what was in store.
In 1996, the pastor (David Crosby, now at FBC New Orleans) of the church we were attending asked me to join his staff as the youth pastor at FBC Temple. Over the next twenty years, I served four churches, three in Texas and one in Oklahoma. My last church was in Amarillo, TX, where I served for ten years from 2003-2013.
Crista worked as a teacher full-time for the first four years of our marriage before we started having children. Our first daughter Katelyn was born in 1998, then a second daughter, Ashlyn, in 2001 and a son, Andrew, in 2004. Our oldest, Katelyn started college this year, back at UMHB where our journey started.
While serving at Trinity Baptist in Amarillo, I first went overseas. That first trip was to Tanzania, Africa. There, my heart and mind were opened to the lostness in the world. God really changed me at that time, but Crista was home about to give birth to Andrew, so she was having her own life-changing moment which had nothing to do with moving across the world. Neither of us were ready at the time for a life overseas. God was still working and preparing us both as well as the place to which he would call us to go.
After Africa, over the next eight years, I traveled primarily to Taiwan, taking groups of students and adults to work with college students sharing the Gospel. I became more and more convinced that God was going to lead us at some point in the future to move overseas, but I didn’t know how since Crista really didn’t seem interested. What I didn’t know was that God was working in her heart to do the same life-changing work, just in a different way and at a different pace. In 2011, she joined me on her first international trip to Taiwan and her heart was moved a little closer, but she still wasn’t ready. In 2012, God used a missionary in Taiwan to stick a finger in my face and challenge me directly to consider moving my family and make a life here in Taiwan.
I was terrified, but at the same time, I knew this was the moment. After returning home, I asked Crista thinking she would say no, but to my delight and terror, she said yes, let’s do it. God made a way forward and in June of 2013, we put our family and 20 suitcases on a plane and started a whole new life here in Taiwan, a decision we haven’t second guessed once.
God has given us grace beyond what we could have imagined and we have faced challenges and trials we thought were insurmountable, both in our family and in the work here. But in every situation that has come up, He has taken care of us and seen us through.
I have been able to learn a language, Mandarin Chinese, that most thought would be impossible at my age, we have built friendships, and our children have seen that we believe what we say we believe.
We have two primary things we are involved in. We work with college students and young adults through relationships on University campuses and we work with a local church where we have a great Taiwanese pastor and also an English ministry that I serve as the pastor for that is a ramp into the mandarin church for our Taiwanese friends as well as a ministry to foreigners and expats.
When we began to work through the “How” we would move to Taiwan, we started with the IMB, but were immediately rejected because our oldest daughter didn’t fit their paradigm.
Our church, friends and family supported us and with their help we created an initial sending organization through our home church, Trinity Baptist (SBC) to raise funds and create our support organization. We have a board of directors that overseas this organization which has since been converted into a 501c3. The IMB’s Taiwan organization (Taiwan Baptist Mission) worked to help us by sponsoring our Missionary Visa (we were one of the first couples that the IMB agreed to sponsor in this way that they did not actually support) and continues to do so and in addition includes us as a part of the IMB team here in Taiwan. We are a part of the central Taiwan IMB team and participate with their work.
Our funding comes from churches, the main one being our home church, and over 100 individuals. Our board approves an annual budget for us to work and live on with some flexibility in the ministry budget based upon special needs that might arise.
Our primary relationship in Taiwan is with the local church, Taichung Baptist. We have joined this local church and work alongside their pastor to serve him and their congregation.
We have chosen to focus our work with the local church for several specific reasons.
– First, the church is the way God has chosen to work in the world. It’s His bride. The local church is the body of Christ that is present in the place where you live and work. So where we live and work, we want to be a part of and work with the body of Christ.
– Second, there is limit to what we can do. Language and Cultural things that we don’t know. So we partner together, doing more together than we can do apart. We serve and work to support what the church is already doing and enhance and help.
– We don’t want to create a false reality, that the Gospel is an “English” or “Western” Gospel, but rather that it transcends both language and culture, making us into a new family. We are one body, with one Lord – and one day, we will all speak one language.
That’s the important part of the partnership – to connect them to the church. We don’t want them in some English Bible study or weekly meeting long term. We want them in the church – where they can be discipled, loved, cared for, not just by us, but by Taiwanese believers. Because one day, hardship is going to come into their life. Perhaps persecution, trouble, sickness, death, etc. And they will need a family – the family of God to be there for them. Who knows if we will still be here. But their Taiwanese Christian family will remain.
During the fall and spring semester we do work on university campuses that teams can come and help us with as we develop relationships and share the Gospel with students and others through personal interaction and service ministry.
In addition, during the summer, we host English camps that give us greater access to students by serving their needs and helping us get to know them more personally.
http://tbcamarillo.org – Our sending church
http://www.tcbc.org.tw/ – Our church in Taiwan, Taichung Baptist Church
http://taichungif.org – Our English Fellowship in Taiwan