Born into the Catholic Church and raised by a single mom, I was the youngest of 5 children (1 sister and 3 brothers) while in Southern California. Since we didn’t have a father in our house and my oldest brother was nearly 15 years older than I, he was the father image I had growing up. As a young kid, my oldest brother was my hero and I wanted to be just like him. As he got older, he became a Jehovah’s Witness and so as I naturally followed in his footsteps. I was fully committed to the organization and was baptized at a relatively young age (age 11) for most Jehovah’s Witnesses. Being comfortable going door-to-door, conversing with people, selling Watchtower and Awake magazines, attending annual assembly gatherings, and being dedicated to the weekly meetings was really all I knew growing up. As far as I was taught, everything outside of the organization was worldly and satanic; and I was warned not to step outside of the organization, or question anything for that matter.
As a teenager, I became more naturally and respectfully curious, and seriously believed in Jehovah and wanted to honor Him. Meantime I met a young girl who got my attention in high school and I began my focus toward her. As we got more and more involved, I began to skip Kingdom Hall meetings. Over time, I was visited by elders from the organization after several indicators from my lack of attendance (or lack of dedication) was raised. After several questions from them, I admitted to my sin that we had committed. But I indicated that I recognized “it was sin and I already asked Jehovah to forgive me.” I was then instructed to go to the Kingdom Hall and repent before the remaining elders. I didn’t sense that was correct since I had already confessed and repented to God to forgive me. I was then told that I had a certain timeframe to perform this otherwise I was going to be “dis-fellowshipped from the organization.” I respectfully would not agree to meet their demand, so I was formally kicked out from the organization.
Meanwhile I had already begun going to a Christian church with my girlfriend whose family was raised in a Pentecostal church. After attending church service, and enjoying the Youth Ministry it had on Friday evenings, I began to attend that church. My girlfriend’s father was a minister and I had joined their family one evening (Aug 1980) as he was a guest speaker to an all-black, on fire for Jesus, Pentecostal church service! All I remember was the pastor of the church giving an alter call, and I felt the Holy Spirit almost literally tugging my heart to come to the alter – so there I was, weeping for my sins that Jesus had died for, and for the Holy Spirit to come into my life as I said a sinner’s prayer.
That night I remember going home and praying when I went to bed that evening. Wanting to please God I remember saying something like, “Jehovah I’m not sure I understand what I did this evening, but it felt right. I just want to please You. So please show me somehow that what I did was something that You agree with.” As I recall, I had a peaceful sleep that night. When I awoke the following morning, before I could realize that I was awake I said, “1 Corinthians 2:12.” I had no idea where that came from because as far as I could recall, this was not a verse that I had heard the night previously. I was so excited about what had happened that I called up my girlfriend and told her what took place. She said, “What did the verse say?” Well I hadn’t even looked it up yet, so while she was on the phone I searched it in the Bible. It stated, “Now you have received not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” This was God’s confirmation to me that what I had done the night before of asking Jesus to come into my life, was a real event; and more importantly, that it pleased God. It has become my life verse.
That day I remember running across the street to an elderly neighbor who was a dear friend of the family to tell her about it, and much to my surprise she told me that she had been praying for me. While still in high school, I recall being on fire for Jesus and excited about what I had done. In addition, I had a teacher who taught a “Bible as Literature” class that I had informed, and she told me she had been praying for me as well. Finally I had an English teacher who I had informed, and it turns out he was also a born-again believer. Both teachers allowed me to give my testimony as a part of my classwork, which was very exciting!
As a senior in high school at age 17, my girlfriend and I were married (I would not recommend this for anyone), and at age 18 our son was born. Julie and I have had our struggles, mostly due to our immaturity thinking we were ready to be married at such a young age.
I was always fairly serious about church, but didn’t fully understand the relationship that Jesus wanted from me. Getting older and raising a family, we began to get more involved with church (thanks to Julie). Around the age of 25, I began to have a strange thought and feeling about one day preaching/teaching and pastoring. Getting more involved with church ministry, I had attended Bible College, and eventually was ordained by Calvary Chapel of Simi Valley (Pastor David Guzik).
In the early 90’s by circumstances orchestrated by God, we ended up in Great Falls Montana from Southern California. Encouraged to begin a Calvary Chapel, eventually Calvary Chapel of Great Falls was formed. After about 7 years, other personal family circumstances had risen, and we had relocated back to California. Returning to California for several years, but longing to return to Montana, and after our children were all raised and married, both Julie and I returned to Great Falls Montana in 2015.
Having pastored a church previously, and once again being encouraged to plant another church, and after much prayer and direction from God – Calvary Chapel of Cascade County was formed.
Julie and I have just celebrated our 37th year of marriage (2018). We’ve been blessed with 4 wonderful children that have given us 12 grandchildren (with one on the way). God is good.