While growing up, I never knew a time when our family didn't attend church consistently on Sunday mornings. Additionally, our family was quite involved in church and I always enjoyed going. Unfortunately, the churches we attended paid minimal attention to the Bible. As a result, the Bible was rarely taught in Sunday Schools or in Sunday services. Yet, the Lord was faithful to protect me during this time, as I enjoyed listening to Christian music and Christian radio.
After graduating from high school, I went to Knox College, in Galesburg, Illinois, where I was involved in a small Fellowship of Christian Athletes group on campus. In fact, one year, I was president of the group. Yet, I still had little knowledge of the Bible or understanding of biblical ministry. The summer before my senior year in college, I began attending Grace Church of DuPage, and was overwhelmed with the clarity of the verse-by-verse teaching of the Bible. Everyone brought their Bible to church, because they would be taught from it!
On one particular occasion, I remember a pastor expositing Matthew 7:21-23, in which Jesus said,
Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."
Jesus said that there will be people who seek to enter heaven, having done many miracles "in the name of Jesus." Yet, they will be denied entrance because Jesus never knew them. This was new teaching for me. It awakened me to the need of pursuing a true knowledge and love for Jesus Christ.
God used this man's preaching to stir me to seek the Lord with all my heart, according to the truth of the Bible. I found a love for God and His Word that I never experienced before. After graduating from college, I went to the Master's Seminary in Los Angeles to study the Bible. I graduated in 1992 with a Master's of Divinity degree, and married Yvonne, a California girl. We moved back to my hometown, DeKalb, in cold Illinois. I began to pursue my Master's degree in Computer Science from Northern Illinois University, while working at Arthur Andersen's world-wide training center in St. Charles, Illinois. My degree was finally completed in 1996.
During our first year of marriage, we attended Grace Church of DuPage, in Warrenville, which was 45 minutes away from our apartment in DeKalb. In 1993 Grace Church of DuPage planted a church in DeKalb, Kishwaukee Bible Church, of which we were a part. The work in starting a church was challenging, yet very rewarding. In 1996 I left Arthur Andersen and began working at Kishwaukee Community Hospital as a systems analyst, while serving Kishwaukee Bible Church as a lay pastor and worship leader. During this time God continued to increase my love for the local church. It was a great joy to see God grow Kishwaukee Bible Church from a few families to the strong church that it is today.
In 1998, there were several families from the Rockford area had begun to attend Kishwaukee Bible Church in DeKalb. I began leading a Bible Study in Rockford with the vision of it becoming a church someday. In the Lord's providence, our Bible Study grew to about 10 families. In the summer of 2001, I resigned my position at Kishwaukee Community Hospital and was sent by Kishwaukee Bible Church to plant a church in Rockford.
Since then, it has been a joy to pastor the church. The Lord has faithfully provided for the church in every way. May God continue His work here in Rockford and beyond.
God has given us five children, Carissa, Stanley Ray, Hanna, Stephanie, and David.