I was born in Oakland, CA, in 1962. I was baptized and brought up in the Roman Catholic Church. My parents were divorced in 1974.
I grew up not believing the Bible. My philosophy was that there is no heaven or hell, and that when we die, our body turns back to dust, and that’s it. But this philosophy troubled me, because if it is true then life is ultimately meaningless and has no purpose. Deep down I knew there had to be more to life than just turning back to dust. But I could not figure out what that purpose was. I felt like I was standing on sinking sand. But I kept this to myself.
In November of 1982, a Christian radio station in Visalia, CA, hired me without ever asking if I was a Christian. I played contemporary Christian music (e.g. Amy Grant and Keith Green) without knowing anything about Christianity or its music! But God used the lyrics of the songs to get me to think and to ask questions. I remember asking my boss, “Why are all these singers singing about Jesus?” He replied, “It is because they have their faith in Jesus.” And then he asked me, “Whom do you have your faith in?” To which I responded, “Who else is there to have faith in other than myself?” “That is a pretty weak foundation,” he said. “You must feel like you are standing on sinking sand.” I thought to myself, “Who does this guy think he is?” But that’s exactly how I felt, and I had never told anyone before.
I began asking my boss lots of questions, and every time he would answer from the Bible. On one occasion, he had me read for myself the words of Genesis chapter one. There I was, one day in the middle of December 1982, reading the opening words of the Bible for the very first time. When I read, “And God said, let there be light: and there was light,” it was as if a light went on in my mind, and I found myself believing what I was reading. My previous conception of God vanished from my mind and I said to myself: “something just changed within me.” I did not know exactly what was happening. All I knew was that the Bible made sense, and I wanted to know as much as I possibly could about the Bible. Looking back, I believe that is when God regenerated me, causing me to believe His Word.
I read the Bible from cover to cover and accepted as true whatever I read. When I came to those parts about Jesus Christ, I believed He was the Son of God who died for sinners. Like the repentant thief I cried for mercy. Interestingly enough, however, I hesitated to call myself a Christian, because I still wasn’t sure if I was saved. I was seeking God but I did not know what it meant to find Him. Finally, I shared my struggle with my boss (at that time he a minister in the Reformed Episcopal Church), and he said to me, “You wouldn’t be seeking God at all if He had not already found you. The Bible says that no one seeks after God.” Finally, I could know that I was a Christian!
About six months later I had the wonderful privilege of bringing my sister (my one and only sibling) to Christ. After a one-hour phone conversation I had with her, she told me later that she got down on her knees and asked the Lord to have mercy on her and to forgive her sins. She and her husband now have seven children and are living in Redding, CA.
The first five years of my Christian walk I struggled to stay afloat theologically as I was tossed to and fro by many different winds of doctrine. My spiritual life did not become stable until I discovered the Reformed faith and joined the Reformed Church in the United States. Some of you know that Paul Henderson and I (having never met before) showed up on the same Sunday as first-time visitors to Ebenezer Reformed Church in Shafter, CA. The late Rev. Robert Stuebbe was filling the pulpit that day, in between the charges of Rev. Jim West and Rev. Vern Pollema. Rev. Stuebbe preached on Romans 9! And I was hooked, line and sinker! Soon afterwards, Paul Henderson and I took membership classes together under Rev. Pollema, and joined the church the same Sunday in January of 1988.
Almost from day one of my Christian pilgrimage I had a desire to be a pastor. This desire lay dormant for many years until I could no longer ignore it. With the encouragement of Rev. Pollema I decided to go to seminary in 1990. It was at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Orange City, IA, where I had the privilege of sitting under the teaching of Rev. Robert Grossmann.
The year 1994 was very eventful. In January, I was joined in marriage to my wonderful wife Bonnie; in May, I graduated from seminary; in June, I was hired by my first Church, Grace Reformed Church in Mitchell, SD; and in December, Bonne and I had our first child (who just started college this fall). In June of 1998 I accepted the call to be the pastor of Grace Reformed Church in Rapid City, where my wife and I and our seven children have happily lived ever since. We love our congregation and feel extremely blessed to be where we are. To God be the glory!