I was born and raised in the back hills and hollows of rural West Virginia. My parents were and are the kind of people who love their children fiercely enough to pour every ounce of their wisdom and passion into them, and then respond with shock when told they are the super heroes that they are. Humble people with low education and Masters of genuine life.
I met my best friend and future wife Elizabeth in fourth grade. People always ask me if I knew she would be my wife back then at the ripe old age of nine. No. Not at all. And if I had, I’d probably have ruined it. Life is precious in the not knowing. But somewhere along the timeline of teenage and college years, I saw that same irresistible passion and wisdom in her that I saw in my parents, so 14 years later she became my bride.
I had completed my studies in premedical chemistry at an HBCU and she had just freshly finished her pre-counseling degree at a Bible college. The plan had been for me to pursue a career in medicine as an osteopathic pediatrician. But just a year prior, God had rearranged the compass of my heart, and the sensible, calculated, detailed person that I’d always known myself to be got swept away by a mission I couldn’t escape. We had no idea what God was brewing in our hearts–could have never guessed if we tried–but it felt exciting and unavoidable.
Within a week of getting married, we moved to downtown Chicago so that I could pursue an MDiv at Moody Theological Seminary. Over the next four years, God profoundly reformed our understanding of Himself and the world both inside the classroom and out in the streets. Elizabeth also completed additional training at Trinity Theological Seminary for her Masters in Biblical Counseling.
Though we had every intention of returning to my small hometown after school, God pressed deep into our souls a love for the inner city, and so the next 16 years were filled with the joy of knowing, loving, and serving dear people in the Northwest and West Sides of Chicago.
During that time, I’ve been graced along the way to manage a design department in the nuclear energy industry downtown for almost a decade, and serve as Director of Operations for Treasuring Christ Together Network, a nonprofit partnership of churches committed to spreading a passion for the supremacy of God through church planting. TCTN was originally birthed out of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis under the pastoral ministry of another man of passion and wisdom, John Piper.
I’ve also served as a pastor and Elizabeth has served as a staff counselor in a church on the northwest side of the city for five years before we left the city for a few short years to pursue additional training in church planting in Raleigh, NC.
When we returned to Chicago, we moved into the west side of Humboldt Park to plant a church in our home. The plant became one of many churches which comprised Legacy Christian Fellowship, a multiplying house church movement among distressed neighborhoods of Chicago. Legacy is a Christ-centered, biblically-based, missionally-minded church committed to making disciples in the city.
By God’s grace, we watched as a fellowship formed made up of Africans, African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Jamaicans, Anglos, and other Latino ethnicities. After 4 years of experiencing some of the greatest joys of our lives among the people of Legacy Christian Fellowship Humboldt Park, I transitioned the oversight of the new church to a dear brother, and relocated to Huntsville, AL, to ensure a faithful presence near aging parents and grandparents.
This latest new turn was perhaps the most difficult of all for us to make. I’m just now beginning to understand that the longer you live, the more difficult goodbyes become (not easier as I suspected). We look back to where we’ve been and who we’ve loved with earnest affection, and look forward to the road ahead with joy mixed with uncertainty. Life is precious in the not knowing.
We have three children, Elijah, Anna, and Daniel, and one caffeinated Maltese Shih Tzu named Chewie.