Hey friends, thanks for checking out this latest blog!
I wanted to post this because I’m trying to get in the habit of writing and blogging more and I have a lot to share as I’ve been going through an exciting season in life and reflecting on all that God has done. My hope is that this glimpse of my story will encourage you, inspire you, and provide a perspective that you may not have had prior to reading this blog.
For the past three years, I have been in New Orleans, LA. God called me down here during the fall of 2014 to pursue my seminary degree and since then, and even before, one life-event happened after another.
Before I moved here, I was serving at First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, SC, beginning to get my feet wet in college and young adult ministry. This was my first ministry job since graduating college and I had no idea what I was getting into. I remember finding this ministry opportunity online through a Google search (of all the places!), one Google page led to an incredible opportunity working with some amazing leaders. The Lord was obviously doing much more than I could put together. I was working under an incredible college and young adult pastor, who is now one of my best friends and mentors, and I was also learning under an amazing senior pastor who I have the utmost respect for. This season was incredible as I was getting to connect with and lead college students and young adults. I was able to assist in planning ministry events and mission trips, I had the opportunity to preach and teach, my leadership skills grew, and I was able to expand my passion for the local church. I loved being in ministry and I only wanted to constituent growing and developing as a ministry leader.
On a trip to Israel with FBC Spartanburg, the Lord began to put seminary on my heart. It was through this trip that I began to desire to deepen my theological knowledge and my understanding of how to best handle God’s Word. I remember being so nervous while having a conversation with my pastor about seminary, because seminary would most likely mean that I would need to move away and attend classes on a campus. My pastor quickly took my nerves away by completely affirming and agreeing with my desire to attend seminary, and strongly encouraged me to go visit the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. New Orleans??!!! …but I knew the Lord was prompting, so my Dad and I road tripped down to New Orleans to check this seminary thing out.
As soon as I stepped onto campus, I began to feel peace. Through conversations, questions being answered, amazing food, and coffee & beignets, I knew that I had my answer. I got back to Spartanburg, wrapped up the summer there, and packed my bags for seminary. I had moved before, but this move felt unlike any other. I pulled onto campus to get the keys to my apartment, walked into my new place, and met my first friend in New Orleans, Augustine Hui. He immediately made me feel at home and we began to hit it off as great friends. Shortly after that, I met one of my now best friends, Irvin Wasswa. Irvin and I began to hang out with two other guys, Chris Shaffer and Drake Nosco. We grabbed breakfast every other Friday and developed a close brotherhood of accountability and fellowship. I also made so many other great like-minded friends that really made the seminary experience great.
After a while, the grind of seminary began to take its toll on me while I was working two jobs and being a full-time student. To say I was burnt out would be a huge understatement. I had loved my church in Spartanburg and leaving was so hard, on top of that being a full-time seminary student was not something that naturally fit my personality. One of the things that really got me through this season of seminary was making an effort to serve and be part of a local church in New Orleans. Seminary seemed to really limit the amount of time I could give to the church, but I knew that I had to give it my best effort and see the season through
While at seminary, I began to serve and volunteer at Vintage Church. I had to get off campus and I had to embrace this unique season that God had me in. This church was very different than anything I was familiar with. It was young, not traditional and had a style that didn’t quite fit what I was used to. But through some connections with people I knew and the fresh approach Vintage Church brought, I began to really enjoy serving there – it opened my eyes to a bigger picture. The next year, Vintage asked me to serve part-time on their staff and my role and responsibilities shifted as different needs were presented. One of the greatest blessings that came out of serving at Vintage Church was meeting my now wife, Emily. God sure did have a sense of humor in bringing a small town Georgia boy to dating and then marrying a New Orleans girl, but he did it! I love her so much. As I was approaching seminary graduation and getting engaged during the Fall of 2016, I sensed that the Lord wanted me to consider staying at Vintage if possible. Thankfully, God made a way for me to do that and Emily and I got married in New Orleans in April of 2017. I have continued to serve on staff at Vintage this year and Emily stepped into a great new job opportunity this year, as well.
This next step and season is fully a work of God and his gracious provision. On Sunday, December 10th, I was ordained alongside one of my best friends John McCann, and God has now opened a door for me to become the Connect Pastor at Vintage Church. I will be overseeing Assimilation/Next Steps, Pastoral Care and Outreach. It’s only by the Lord’s grace that this came about and I can see His hand moving completely through this situation. As I wrote earlier in this blog, I could have never imagined what the Lord was going to put together. As Emily and I strive to seek him in our lives, we know he has chosen this next season just for us.
I want to thank my amazing wife Emily for all of her patience, support, and wisdom. I also thank my family, close friends, three supporting churches: New Hope Baptist Church, First Baptist Spartanburg, and Vintage Church; and the multiple pastors from these churches and others that have been significant in helping me in this journey. These churches and pastors have provided support, encouragement, wisdom and mentorship to me. We all need this kind of support and community and I will be the first to testify to that!
I share all of these things because I have been reflecting on the faithfulness and sovereignty of God the past few weeks. Through every season and transition, the Lord has been faithful. When I have questioned the situations I have been in, the Lord has been faithful. When I have worried and feared for the future, the Lord has been faithful. This Scripture comes to mind when I reflect on all of these things:
“The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” -Psalm 121:7-8
As I reflect on what God has done in my life since graduating college, I hope my story would remind others that God’s timing is perfect. If we are submitting to the Lordship of Christ in our lives, willing to say “Yes” to Him and walk through the doors he opens for us, He will be faithful beyond our comprehension. Does it mean we won’t mess up, fall, fail, struggle, fear, and worry about the future? Of course not! In our flesh, we will struggle, but through the Holy Spirit we can overcome and seek Him in our life – today, tomorrow, and for the years to come. The reward is greater than we can imagine.
May the Lord lead and guide you, give you peace, and give you a sense of excitement for what’s to come in 2018. Merry Christmas!