Vocation and Calling
My passion for prayer emerges from a lifelong commitment to the Great Commission. From the moment that I came to faith in my early adolescence, I knew that I was called to the nations. Three months after my 19th birthday I boarded a plane for Merida, Mexico where the Lord was calling me to plant a church. He directed me to a place called “the Roble,” an impoverished community on the outskirts of the city. Duffle bag in hand, I went door-to-door with the intention of finding out who was worthy, and staying there until I departed (Mt 10:11). After several attempts, I finally found a family that had a place for me to stay. It was a cardboard shack with a dirt floor, no electricity, no plumbing, and a circle of rocks where I could cook my food over a fire. And all this for just $4 a month!
My stay in the Roble lasted six years. Living among the poor and seeing the world through their eyes, I was radically changed. While I was successful at planting a church, I was also deeply broken by the suffering I saw, and overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of need. I realized that as one person acting alone, the scope of my influence would be very limited. I returned home with the vision to engage young people like myself in the call to serve the poor and proclaim the gospel throughout the world.
My wife Kimberly and I joined Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in 1996, and went on to found YWAM Minneapolis in 1998. This organization now operates on a 80 acre campus in Rockford, MN with satellite ministry centers throughout the Twin Cities. We are a bi-lingual (English/Spanish) ministry with forty five staff members from eight nations. We have trained students from 30 countries, opened a shelter for pregnant young women, planted a church among the Filipino community in Minneapolis, organized countless short-term outreaches and mobilized long-term missionaries to several nations around the world.
Over the years I've been able to travel to 50 nations and I've taught and preached in a diversity of settings: “underground” groups in Cuba, youth camps in Mongolia, Roma (Gypsy) churches in Spain, pastors’ conferences in the Amazon jungle, mass evangelistic meetings in India, a women’s prison in Thailand, and the list goes on. I am particularly engaged with the church in Latin America, as I have taught on multiple occasions in an array of nations including: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.
Teaching and Research
Even as my career has been dedicated to international ministry and organizational leadership, I am also a researcher and a writer with a particular interest in historical theology. The overarching question that I seek to address in my teaching and research is: How did we get to now? The diverse theologies of global Christianity today are the products of history. The interaction of Scripture, people, tradition, politics, sociological dynamics and culture have all given shape to what Christians now believe. In order to meaningfully engage with both the present and the future, we must first look backwards. We may reject or accept the teachings that we have inherited. We may uncover the richness of our tradition or expose its deficiencies. But in all cases we recognize that theology, at its core, requires a continual engagement with its past. Those who are indifferent to its history show contempt for the forces that have shaped, and will continue to shape, Christian identity.
I believe that the purpose of theology is to address the most pressing questions of global communities today. It is in this light that we must never view our traditions as relics: vestiges of the dead whose value is patent only to those who believe in their power. Rather we must view the traditions of the Christian faith as transformative ideas that still hold the power to shape human history. Historical theology illuminates the factual record of Christianity’s influence. Some will view this narrative in an uncritically positive light. Others will see it as primarily negative. And most will discern both aspects of this faith’s contribution to the human story over the past two thousand years. The historical theologian assists those who endeavor to know what has happened in history and why. Understanding how we got to now is requisite to answering the question Where do we go from here?
As a teacher, I engage my students with people and events from the past, in the hope that they will discover the consequences of ideas. At the heart of the church's great triumphs is to be found great theology. When we as Christians have more fully understood the power of prayer, the righteous character of God, and His vision for the nations, we have altered the course of history. I want to see my students make history once again.
Kimberly and I are the parents of five beautiful children. Our oldest daughter Abby servies with YWAM in Perth, Australia. Our son David works for Goldman Sachs in NY. Emma and Rachel are in school and little Elisabeth is the one who guarantees that the nest won't be empty for many years to come. I love the outdoors (hunting and fishing) and I am also an avid craftsman. In the summer months I'm in the woodshop, making furniture, doors and an occasional guitar. In the winter months I tend to focus on pottery-- coffee cups being my speciality.
Our family attends Church of the Cross Anglican in Hopkins, MN.