I was born the youngest of seven children into a low income, lost family in Pennsylvania. My mother decided to separate from my father when I was four years old, leading to even greater poverty.
Through many troubles and many moves, I was an upbeat child, but clearly a sinner. I recall that, when in primary school, I had a great proclivity for theft.
My oldest sibling — my sister — and her husband were involved with a local Baptist church and helped start a youth work. They begged me to attend and I agreed, thinking it a favour to them.
Little did I know that the Lord was going to work on my heart for the next three years, to convict me of my sin and need of a Saviour. When 12 years old, I had been attending this church for about a year.
I was fearful of what would happen to me when I died and tried to fulfil every ‘plan of salvation’ presented to me by the youth leaders.
If someone said to me, ‘Repeat a prayer’, I would do it; I followed the so-called ‘Romans Road’ and any other thing that came across my path, but none of these ‘methods’ of salvation gave me peace.
Finally, shortly before my 13th birthday, I gave up those efforts and begged the Lord to save me, knowing that I could not do it myself and, if it would happen, he had to do it.
The Lord was gracious to me and saved my soul. On my 13th birthday I was baptised and became a member of the church (First Baptist of Morrisville, Pa.).
I became very active in that church during my secondary education. I was a leader in the youth programme for the next seven years, as well as teaching Sunday school. If there was an opportunity to serve Christ, I took it.
During that time, I felt burdened to pursue university studies and prepare myself for anything the Lord would have me to do. I enrolled in Philadelphia College of Bible (now Cairns University) and pursued a Bachelor of Science in Bible, with a minor in Pastoral Studies.
I earned my degree and felt ready for what lay ahead. Little did I know, how much I had to learn! Towards the end of 1996, the company I was working for promoted me to be foreman of a new manufacturing plant in Kentucky.
In 2000 two large positives happened to me. I met the woman who would become my lovely wife — Jennifer, who has given me three wonderful boys: Malachi, Elijah and Isaiah. And the Lord brought me to understand the doctrines of God’s grace in the Bible.
Through the teaching of that church (Pleasant View Baptist, Bromley, Kentucky), I learned more concerning the Bible and how it applies to everyday life than I had in my previous years as a Christian.
Through the past 12 years I have endeavoured to serve the Lord as he has given me opportunity.
I taught adult Sunday school for 10 years and preached many times at the First Baptist Church of Independence, Kentucky. During that time I led a group of men in monthly visits of a local shelter for the homeless, where we would feed the men and preach the gospel.
Later, I was assisting in the preaching at Pleasant View Baptist Church and our pastor led the church to set me aside as a preacher to minister in the UK, a country for which my wife and I have been burdened. My wife secured employment there and we have been living in the Harrogate area since 2013.
Our goal is to plant a New Testament Baptist church. The Lord has blessed in many ways since arriving and we are grateful for his mercy and grace in our lives.
We have been holding Sunday evening services in the Cairn Hotel (no relation to my university) for 2½ years, and are hosting a mid-week Bible study in our home.
The Lord has also opened a door of ministry through holding an after-school club at the local school our boys attend. It has been my honour to distribute Bibles and copies of John Bunyan’s book, Pilgrim’s progress, to students (contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or bereanbaptistmission.net).