APPLIED THEOLOGY, BAT
Why did you choose your major? What interested you in this particular field of study?
My life was radically changed in February of 2003 while a freshman at CBU. I was truly a mess of a person and had moved from living a life of doing whatever I wanted to do (I was a drug addict when I landed on the campus of CBU), to living a double-life of beginning to follow God yet returning to whatever I pleased when I was away from CBU. God truly got a hold of me that February. I remember vividly getting on my knees in my dorm (2B in Smith!) and giving my life to Christ. Things dramatically changed from there. I lost all interest in doing anything in life. Previously I was a political science major, and that no longer interested me. I changed to undeclared because all I wanted to do at that time was to tell others about Jesus and what he had done for me. That summer I was working at Pine Summit and somehow was connected to Dr. Dan. We emailed back and forth and they invited me into the program. It just made sense. I had the greatest respect (still do) for Dr. Dan and wanted people like him to invest in me. The calling to go into pastoral ministry was clear. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
What did you like about being in this program at CBU?
The teaching and content were amazing. I grew and learned so much. Learning in a cohort style was new to me, but I saw the value in it. Overall, what I loved about being in the program was the professors. It was the opportunity to consistently be around Chris Morgan, Dan Wilson and Anthony Chute. I admired these men and loved their humility.
What did you think about your professors?
I thought they were very knowledgeable yet humble. I admired the way that theology was truly something that resulted in worship and practical ministry.
Did you complete an internship?
I did. I was an intern at Jurupa Valley Community Church. I was grateful for the chance to serve that church leading music, teaching classes and assisting in leading the youth. It was a small church, but the people really took me in and gave me a chance to lead, fail and get back up again.
Did you participate in anything else at CBU?
I was an RA my senior year at Smith. Looking at how much of an impact RAs had on my life as a freshman, I hoped to be the same to the incoming class. I’ve never regretting moving back to the dorms as a senior. It was one of my favorite years. I also worked on campus a lot: in the mail room with Kevin Sheckler and also in Admissions under Gail Ronveaux. Anything that was going on at CBU was something I wanted to be a part of. Intramural sports or events were things I always participated in. I went on ISP trips to Southeast Asia and Central Asia.
How did you grow (spiritually, socially, educationally) while in this program at CBU?
I truly was given a theological foundation at CBU that I am eternally grateful for. It has anchored me all these years through the ups and downs. So I definitely grew educationally through my classes (I felt like I knew nothing going into the program). Socially, some of the most significant people in my life modeled for me what it looks like to invite others into your life and disciple them through true relationship. Spiritually, I went in with the hardest of hearts and left with an extremely tender heart for God’s glory to be known amongst all nations. The difference in growth was dramatic.
Did your major help you figure out your purpose?
Absolutely. I thought I wanted to be a foreign missionary. I think in many ways I still do. But, the program helped me see that my wiring and passion is truly to shepherd others and to equip them to go. It also helped me clarify that I knew I wanted to do ministry on the West Coast. Seeing the need for gospel-centered churches all up and down the coast helped clarify not only what I wanted to do but where I was called to do it.
What have you done since graduating?
The greatest achievement, truly, is that I got married to Elizabeth Tucker right out of college. We would have never met if it hadn’t been for CBU. She is from Portland, OR, and I was from Montana. We’ve since had four kids: Tucker, Eden, Gus and Isla. I attended and graduated from Gateway Seminary (at the time it was Golden Gate) in the Bay Area. We loved our time there and it was a place where we made deep friendships and learned to better apply our learning in the classroom to the mission field. I graduated with an M.Div. in December of 2009. I’ve served as an associate pastor in two churches. We planted a church in Corvallis, OR back in 2012 seeking to reach college students at Oregon State. By God’s grace the church is alive, growing and healthy. Last fall, we moved up to Gresham, which is in the Portland metro area here in Oregon, to become the lead pastor of Gresham Bible Church.
How has your major and time at CBU prepared you for your life and career after college?
It taught me how to love people and invest in people. I caught daily glimpses of what it looks like to be a community that encourages each other to follow Jesus. I learned what it should look like to be a leader, have convictions, yet humbly lead out in those convictions. As mentioned above, CBU gave me a foundation for life and ministry that I can’t even put into words its value.
Is there anything you learned at CBU that you still use in your professional life
I learned to create a preaching calendar, thanks Dr. Morgan! That has helped so much. I learned how to interact and share the gospel cross-culturally. I learned to read from the ESV Bible thanks to Dr. Chute’s indoctrination. But really, I don’t remember many specific things. I can’t remember a specific line that was said, even. But I remember who people were. I remember how they made me feel and their genuine care and concern for my life. That impacted me and I carry that into my everyday work as a pastor. It’s offloaded the pressure to wrongfully think that I need to know everything. Instead, it’s clarified that the most important thing for me to do is to abide in Christ and to only give out what I’ve first received. Who I am is more important than what I do.
How are you making a difference in the world? How are you living your purpose?
I hope I’m making a difference in Gresham and the Portland area in helping people be equipped to go out and share the gospel with their co-workers, family and neighbors. Over the years, God’s given me the opportunity to expose many people to the foreign field and by His grace He’s sent out many of those people to give their lives away overseas. I get to pastor every day and preach every week, and I pray that that has an eternal impact on those God has entrusted to my care.
Would you recommend CBU to others?
Oh absolutely. I always do. I think CBU is a school that holds to its convictions and stated mission. The people who lead the school are quality and hold a great, eternal perspective. CBU is a place where others will feel loved and included. Ultimately, it is a school where people will get a great education, make lifelong friends and be equipped to use that education to make a difference for Christ in the world. What could be better?
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am forever indebted to CBU. Thanks for the opportunity to share.