Like I hope you are, I'm on an adventure with Jesus! I didn't expect to be doing any of this, but God brought me on a very unique journey and here I am, loving it!
It's actually a bit hard for me to put into words how powerful my first experience with physics was. I first came across the subject in high school, where I was taking the infamous "AP Physics" course, which was generally acknowledged to be the hardest course we had at the school. While it definitely wasn't easy, I found the subject unexpectedly made a lot of sense. It was almost as if a light-bulb flipped on and the world made sense. I succeeded beyond my wildest expectations and knew I wanted to keep exploring this fascinating area of study.
When I went to college, I knew I wanted to major in physics. As I jumped in, I discovered the same success. By the time I graduated, I was the stand-out student in my program and I decided to continue on to graduate school. I enrolled in a Ph.D. program and got to work in theoretical quantum mechanics (more specifically particle physics if you know the field). Just as I had previously, I found the topic fascinating and I continued to succeed in my department. When I completed my degree, I had managed to not only get my doctorate, but rack up a number of departmental awards and scholarships as well.
During my time working towards my Ph.D., I was attending a local church as well. My faith had always been important to me and I knew I needed the support of a local church family while I undertook the strenuous and not-overly-faith-friendly environment of a graduate program in the sciences. Due to some friends I knew in town, I found myself in this interesting charismatic church that called itself a "Vineyard". Growing up baptist, I had no grid for all this Holy Spirit ministry stuff, but I tolerated it because a church family was important to me.
After a number of years, God "snuck up" on me and introduced me to the Holy Spirit in a radical and unexpected encounter in China. Believe it or not, I wound up casting a demon out of a woman before I even believed in prayer ministry! You can catch the full (and almost unbelievable) story here:
After this experience, I had to process a lot and rebuild my faith around something I never saw coming. By the time I completed my graduate program, I was hooked on the Holy Spirit and knew I couldn't leave our local church community. I was excited about physics (and good at it too), but I knew that I would live with regret if I had discovered God was on the move in our local community and I changed the channel and moved on with my life.
I shared my plan to stay in town and our senior pastors invited me to come on the staff team and oversee our healing ministries. This was not at all expected, but led to more than a decade of pastoral ministry in my local church, the Vineyard Church of Central Illinois.
A few years into wrapping my head around pastoring, at the suggestion of our senior leader Happy Leman, we started a program called School of Kingdom Ministry (sometimes "SoKM" for short). Much to our surprise, God breathed on the program and other churches began to come to us and ask to host the program as well. Over the course of the next few years, SoKM grew to hundreds, then thousands of students in locations across the country and around the world.
This has been a wonderful, and often very hard adventure! Along the way I had to learn how to entrepreneur this whole thing into being (an unexpected journey my physics background didn't prepare me for). I discovered I have a knack for preaching and writing I had no idea was in there, and with that skillset I've been able to travel the world, equipping people and sharing the journey God has taken me on.
As a result of this long and strange journey, I now find myself with a unique set of values, experiences and skills:
All of this is why I do what I do in sharing and resourcing with the body of Christ. God positioned me to be able to share in varying ways for a number of years, but during the unique season that 2020 has been, he began to challenge me to step out and share even more; that my unique perspective and insights needed to be more widely shared.
To that end, here we are! May God take both of our journeys and use them for his glory.