I grew up in a home mostly without religion though whenever I stayed with my grandmother she would take me to church. I did always acknowledge that there was a god but a being I mostly blamed when things went wrong.
Something that I did believed strongly in was fate. Whenever something good happened in my life I chalked it up to fate. When applying to colleges I got accepted into exactly one – must be fate. When looking for my first job I received exactly one job offer – must be fate. Everything in my life just always seemed to work out.
During my first month of work after college graduation, my boss was looking to hire more recent college grads. One day a beautiful girl came to interview and I said to myself – “man I hope they hire her!” Well they did and she was assigned to my work group – that marvelous fate!
Wytana and I officially started dating and got married three years later. We lived in Connecticut and both had very good careers and enjoyed our lifestyle.
Throughout the four years Wytana and I were together she would ask if we could go to church but based on my experience growing up I strongly resisted. Wytana got pregnant and as the due date got closer she brought up church more and more wanting our children to grow up in a church home but I continued to resist.
Time went by and I realized I was not very happy even though I had a beautiful wife, a wonderful child and a great job. So I came up with a plan. I felt if we could only move out of the Northeast to an area with a better quality of life than I would be happy. So we targeted Atlanta and now only had to find a job.
After many months fate intervened again and provided a great job with The Coca-Cola Company in late 1993. The first few months were filled with excitement and adventure – A new job, new city, new house. Fate was really on my side now.
Quickly the excitement wore off and I realized that I not any happier than I was in Connecticut. My job was extremely demanding, Alli was born, Wytana quit her job to stay at home and suddenly the finances got very difficult. So I came up with a plan – if only I could get a promotion then our finances would be solved and I would be happy.
So I started working killer hours and it worked – I got the big promotion and started losing my family. I would often get home at midnight and find Wytana crying. This went on for several months. I kept reassuring her that the long hours would stop but they never did. Soon the joy from the new promotion wore off and I was unhappy once again.
In late 1994, we started a friendship with a family on our street and soon I realized there was something different about this family – there was a peace that I was not familiar with. One night they invited us over for dinner and the subject of religion came up. They said they attended a Baptist church. Then they said something about the Holy Spirit and I had no idea what they were talking about. They invited us to their church and Wytana kept asking and I finally agreed to go.
As church started I was very uncomfortable – singing, clapping, a band in church! This was very different from my experience in mass with my grandmother. But I did listen to the message and something captured my attention.
We attended church again the next Sunday and the message still did not make much sense – but one part did. They showed a clip from the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – The part where Harrison Ford is at the end of a cliff and he needs to cross the ravine. He recalls his dad (Sean Connery) telling him that he needs to take the leap of faith which he does and crosses the ravine on the invisible footbridge. Well the pastor said following Jesus is the same – it is leap of faith.
Being a logical person none of this made sense – how could this Holy Spirit enter me? Why would Jesus die for me? How could just saying a prayer save me? None of it made sense – but something inside of me was telling me to take this leap, this leap of faith, so I did.
On the second week of attending this crazy church I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I really had no idea what that meant. I did not feel any different; I did not feel the Holy Spirit. But over the next few weeks I did start to feel different something inside of me was different. For the first time in my life I started to feel content; at peace.
But after a few months I was not so happy anymore. A friend invited me to a weekend retreat in November 1995 where men would talk and share their feelings. I sounded like another uncomfortable experience but I decided to go anyway. It was at this retreat that I learned that being a Christian meant having a personal relationship with Jesus. I also realized that God loved me and it was He who took care of me all those years. He was what I always called fate. He loved me long before I even knew Him.
From 1996 – 1999 we lived in Zürich and loved it. Cameron was born there. It is so clear looking back that God had a plan for us and He knew what was best for us. There is no way would have chosen to move to Europe but He sent us there and we consider it some of the best years of our lives.
We moved back to Atlanta in late 1999 and for the next few years lived and experienced the “normal” Christian life.
In 2006 I was part of a men’s Bible study. Throughout 2006 we all developed purpose statements. Part of that process included taking a spiritual gift assessment. The result was my gifts are in the area of teaching and leadership. In addition my passion is to help guys be/become the spiritual leaders of their families. I decide to start a men’s Bible and specifically I wanted to use Steve Farrar’s book Point Man as the basis.
After I went through this assessment and defining my purpose I called our pastor to see if Fellowship could somehow use me. He put me in touch with the head of Fellowship’s Adult Ministries. What was amazing is that he was looking for men to lead small groups and he had already identified Point Man as one of the groups!
So in the fall of 2007 seven guys (I think we are at 15 guys now) and I formed “Point Man Small Group.” The first two years we mainly studied books on how to be better husbands and fathers. But it was in the fall of 2009 that God kept tugging on my heart saying “there is more.” Shortly after we studied Chip Ingram’s book, r12 – True Spirituality.
It was this quote in Chip’s book that really grabbed me:
“Why are there so many decisions for Christ yet so few disciples?”
By going the through the r12 study for the first time I understood the Lordship of Christ. Saying it another way, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we definitely hang on to the Savior part but sometimes forget about the Lord part – I know that was the case for me for 15 years. As a result of the study I surrendered my life to Christ.
As a part of surrendering I decided to join Alli on a mission trip to Guatemala in the summer of 2010. Upon returning I was left with a big question – now what? I felt God was telling me I needed to take the next step – whatever that meant. Well He didn’t wait long to tell me. I was sitting in church service the morning after returning from Guatemala and God laid it out for me as clear as if he sent me an email.
He told me to start a ministry focused on developing disciples and even told me what to name it D2D Ministries: From Decision to Disciple. I want to provide inspiration, motivation, and mostly encouragement to believers after the decision.
I really don’t know what D2D will become – right now it is a place to host my weekly devotions. But what I want to provide is discipleship materials and resources to help people move beyond the decision.
I don’t know what to call the next part of my life – I just want to live led by the Holy Spirit. Living by the Spirit and not the flesh has been a major learning for me the past 18 months. Through this I have learned not try to do all of this on my own – I can’t do this on my own. If I do it on my own I will have a human impact. If I do this through the Spirit I can have a supernatural impact.
Thank you for taking the time to read my journey. My hope is that I can help you, inspire you and encourage you in your walk with our dear Savior!
October 21, 2011 at 11:22 AM
I think it would be a great idea to put your testimony from where you once were to where you are now on this page
October 24, 2011 at 4:32 PM
I agree, Derrick. Ed?
October 24, 2011 at 9:48 PM
Working on it!