Three Spiritual Journeys
How the gospel transforms lives
I was born into a Christian home and grew up learning about God and His Word. As an 8-year-old in summer Bible school, I understood for the first time that having Christian parents or attending church did not make me a Christian. Nor did obeying my parents and treating others well.
I knew I sometimes did things I shouldn’t; that my sin made me unacceptable to God; and that the Good News was that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, paid the price to redeem me from my sin. All I had to do was admit to God I was a sinner, ask Him to forgive me, and trust in Jesus Christ.
The gospel is simple enough that I could understand it even as a child. I prayed that evening and have followed Jesus ever since. From that day on, I knew the gospel had changed my life forever.
My father was a pastor, but I had no desire to follow in his footsteps. I had too many things I wanted to experience, so I went to college, earned a degree in accounting, and began a career in business.
God graciously gave me many of the desires of my heart, but I soon learned the things of this world do not satisfy. In my 30s, I struggled with contentment; and God began changing the trajectory of my life. Proverbs says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (16:9). As God showed me the temporary things of life don’t compare with the eternal treasure of serving Him, I sensed a clear call to full-time ministry.
I quit my job and moved my wife and two young children 600 miles east, away from family and friends, to enter seminary. It was a challenge, but a rewarding one. After graduating, I served for a few years at the school before God led me to The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 20 years ago.
Were it not for the gospel, I would still be serving myself, rather than others. Over the years, I have come to appreciate Proverbs 3:5–6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Looking back, I can see how God used each step I took to prepare me for the ministry I hold dear today.
The gospel can change the course of our lives. God directed me on a path I never could have imagined or engineered on my own, and I can never do enough to thank Him for giving His one and only Son for me.
My life has been a long journey with music and the Lord. I grew up in a Roman Catholic home and started singing in church even before I got my first guitar. I played in bands, wrote songs, and began to realize in college that God was the source of my musical gift. That’s when I found myself wanting to know more about Him and His plans for me.
After graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in accounting, I went to Nashville, Tennessee, the country music capital of the world. But as I shopped my songs, I saw a lot of things in Nashville that told me it was not the place for me. All the musical experiences that meant something to me had involved church.
So I came home to New Jersey and returned to college for a degree in music. Some of my music professors had toured with famous bands, and the stories they told only reinforced what I had seen for myself. There were no happy endings, and I didn’t want a life like that.
In time, I married and had children. In August 1994, someone invited us to family week at Word of Life in Schroon Lake, New York. Harry Bollback, cofounder of Word of Life (and a musician and songwriter), was the speaker. “Have you been searching for what the Lord would have you do with your life?” he asked. I felt like he was speaking directly to me. I gave my life to Jesus right then and there. When he asked people to come forward to receive Christ as Savior or rededicate their lives to Him, I was nervous until I heard the chair next to me push back and saw my wife, Lynn, get up to rededicate her life. We walked forward together, and nothing has been the same since. God has truly changed my life for the better.
I earned a master’s degree in finance and was working for a nonprofit when I started praying about going into full-time ministry. I told the Lord it would be awesome if He would find me a position in both accounting and music.
In 2012, I joined The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry (FOI) as chief financial officer. Two years later, FOI’s Executive Director Jim Showers asked me if I would take over the music ministry as well. What an answer to prayer!
Over the years the Lord has shown me nothing is impossible with Him. He doesn’t give us gifts expecting them to lie dormant. He wants us to use them, and there’s nothing more satisfying than using those gifts for Jesus.
I grew up in a Roman Catholic family. From 1962 when I entered kindergarten until 1974 when I graduated from high school, I attended Catholic schools. My parents enrolled me as an altar boy when I was in 5th grade, and when it was my week on, I had to be at the church adjacent to my grammar school by 7 a.m. every weekday to help the priest as he conducted the Mass.
In those days, the Mass was in Latin, which left me clueless about what was going on. In addition, the God I learned about was distant, unapproachable, and austere. To make matters worse, the school administered harsh corporal punishment, which pushed me farther from that faith.
I remember telling my mother when I was 13, “I’ll continue to go to church with you because if I don’t, I know you’ll take things away from me, like spending time with my friends and playing sports. But when I turn 18, I promise you I will never darken the doorway of a church again.” And I made good on that promise.
It wasn’t until I turned 23 that I first heard the gospel. In the gospel, I met a Jesus unknown to me—not one still hanging on a cross but one who was victorious over the grave, anxious to gather people to Himself in love. He was personal, approachable, near, full of grace, and able to save me from my sin and from myself. He was a God who loved me. I gave my life to Him and was born again. (See John 3:3, 7.)
In 1986 the Lord introduced me to The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry (FOI) when I moved to South Jersey for work. I attended FOI’s Thursday night Bible study and absorbed the teaching like a sponge. In fact, the experience was so meaningful I quit my job and, with my wife’s encouragement, enrolled in FOI’s one-year Institute of Biblical Studies.
Soon after I was asked to consider working for FOI. My first reaction was, “You mean you’ll pay me to work here? I’m in!” That was 28 years ago, and my life has never been the same. The Lord is good; and the gospel is the powerful, life-changing message of His love.