Portraits: Rev. Joe Vusich

Portraits: Rev. Joe Vusich

I was born and raised in the Kansas City area, the second of six children in a devout Roman Catholic family. I am grateful that my parents taught me God is Triune and that Christ died for our sins, but Catholic doctrine prevented me from understanding the good news that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. I never doubted for a minute I was a sinner, but I despaired of going to heaven and slowly drifted from my faith.

During my first year in college, my best friend came to faith in Christ and began speaking to me about my need for salvation. Slowly the message of God’s grace began to sink in, and several months later (summer of 1975), I called on the Lord Jesus to save me from my sins. Soon after, I received my first Bible and began reading it voraciously. It was during this formative period that I developed a clear understanding of the doctrines of grace, a growing trust in Christ as my Savior, and a firm belief that the Bible is the infallible and inerrant Word of God. These commitments have grown stronger ever since.

I eventually graduated from the University of Kansas (BA in History) and worked as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service for seven years. As my understanding of the Scriptures grew, I was encouraged more and more by other Christians to serve in the church as a Bible teacher. These developments, and a growing desire in my heart to serve Christ in full-time ministry, eventually convinced me to attend seminary to get the training and instruction I needed. I quit my job, sold my house, and moved to Los Angeles in 1990 to enroll at The Master’s Seminary. I married my wonderful wife, Gioia, at the end of my first semester, and with her encouragement and unfailing support, I graduated with an MDiv in May 1993. After serving as an intern that summer, I was examined and ordained to gospel ministry by the Baptist General Conference in October 1993.

I was subsequently called to serve as pastor of two different baptistic churches over a four-year period. By the end, I had become fully persuaded of Reformed and covenant theology, but rather than switching my credentials to a Reformed denomination, I resigned my pastorate and moved to Kansas City to work for Sprint and help take care of my parents. We joined the local Orthodox Presbyterian church and had our boys baptized, and a year later I was ordained a ruling elder. During my service in the OPC, I filled the pulpit many times, taught Sunday School, served as moderator of the local presbytery, and grew to appreciate the Reformed confessions as well as presbyterian church government.

As time passed, I began to experience a growing desire to return to full-time preaching ministry. I did some pulpit supply for Northland Reformed Church in Kansas City, and the elders there encouraged me to pursue ordination in the RCUS. Things moved quickly after this, and a year later (Spring 2010) I was successfully examined for licensure and ordination by the South Central Classis. Finally, in May 2010 I was installed as the minister of Emmanuel Reformed Church in Sutton, NE.

The saints and consistory of Emmanuel Church have been wonderfully supportive and encouraging, and I love being part of a great communion like the RCUS. I thank God each day for the great blessings He has granted me: a beautiful wife, five great sons, a loving congregation, and the opportunity to serve Him by doing what I love most: preaching and teaching His Word. As David confessed, “My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh shall bless His holy name forever and ever!” (Psalm 145:21).

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