In the summer of 1978, a friend invited me to an FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) camp in Colorado. There were going to be some NCAA football stars, and a lot of food. That's about all I knew and pretty much all I was interested in. My friend didn't mention anything about Jesus being involved. I had no idea of what was in store for me at that camp; certainly nothing life-changing. At that point, all that mattered was sports, and even that seemed to be without purpose. Life for me was just a series of events, all meaningless and sometimes absurd.
While at the camp, weird things started happening…All-American linebackers from ASU and other colleges lifting their arms singing about Jesus…what was that all about? It all seemed very strange at the time, but I wasn't about to question the 400 athletes from all over the country that were 6'4", 240 lb. football and basketball stars, so I just went with it.
I was one in a group of twelve at the camp, and through the group, the Lord began changing my life as I saw the genuine care and love that was so abundant between those guys and also toward me. Me! I didn't know that kind of compassion was possible. They told me that Jesus had come into their lives. They said that I could actually know God and know the truth about Him through Christ!
On the last day of camp, a very elaborate multi-media presentation was shown to the whole group. It depicted the life of Christ, leading up to His crucifixion. As the Lord was being beaten and crucified, I remembered what the Bible said about Jesus dying for the sins of the world. At that moment, I became aware that it was my responsibility. The personal blame was mine. It was my sin that sent Jesus to the cross. My heart was overwhelmed with an utter detest for my sins, and I was astounded at what my sin cost Jesus. I began to question why Jesus would go through all of this for someone like me; someone who wasn't interested in good and evil or heaven and hell. I began weeping when I finally realized the simple answer. He did it because He loved me.
As the presentation continued, I saw the stone in front of Jesus' tomb roll away, and saw Jesus standing-alive and full of power, authority and glory! I felt such a glory in my heart over Christ's victory!
As I stood, gazing at the image of Jesus, I was overwhelmed knowing that I could be totally clean and completely forgiven. My life could actually be pleasing to God! No more guilt, no more shame; only the glory of experiencing God's presence.
All the emotions, all the revelation was indescribable! Seeing my sin for what it was; hating the sin that plagued my life; knowing that was the reason for Jesus' death, knowing His love for me; having all this finally revealed to my heart was exhilarating beyond compare. The best way I could describe would be like scoring the winning point, or kicking the winning field goal in overtime. Being victorious in a no-win situation. An experience that you dream of, but never actually expect it to happen. It was amazing.
After the presentation, Corky, my 6'4", 240 lb. group leader walked up to me with tears streaming down his rugged face. I looked up at him and he hugged me, weeping over my shoulder, and said 'Thank you. Thank you for being my friend.' The humility this man displayed had such a huge impact. As I thought about the glory of Jesus and what He did for me, and saw humility of this great All-Star athlete, Corky, I knew that I owed Jesus my life. At that moment, I asked Him into my life and gave my life to Him forever.
Now there was purpose for my life! Now there was meaning and direction that I never had before. I will always remember what Jesus has done for me. He came into my life that day and what a difference He has made! I now had a security and a peace that wouldn't change with my circumstances, knowing that I was right with God and that He would never leave me.
After the experience at camp, I had no idea how adventuresome it would be finding and obeying the will of God. But from that point on, it was my goal to do just that.
Through a series of events, God led me Southern California, to a church called Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. Through my pastor, Chuck Smith, I learned more about God and His will by studying His word. Pastor Chuck had such a passion and love for the scriptures and he taught me to love it also. We studied the Bible book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse, and it began to change me, equip me and give me a desire to serve the Lord. Through one of the pastors on staff, Malcolm Wild, I had the opportunity to go on a missions trip to England, where I ended up staying for five years. During this time, I attended three Bible schools and the Lord furthered my love for His word and deepened my conviction to serve Him.
While attending Bible school in England, I had the opportunity to serve as a youth pastor and engaged in several different missions, evangelism, and speaking opportunities. After all these experiences, I felt led to come back to Calvary Chapel in Southern California. I then attended the School of Ministry program at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Once I graduated, I really didn't feel led to start a church anywhere. So, for the next four years, I was serving the Lord on a voluntary basis in the ministry at Costa Mesa, by teaching the Bible survey class at the Tuesday School of the Bible; teaching various home fellowships; assisting in the college & career ministry; and reaching out to college campuses and organizing Christian concerts at Newport Beach.
In 1995, the Lord worked on my heart, and I believed it was time to start a church in northern California. One of the pastors at Costa Mesa encouraged me to instead visit a little community church in east Orange County, tucked away in the Santa Ana mountain range. From the first interview, I immediately had a sense of direction and a vision for what would then become Calvary Chapel of the Canyons.
Calvary Chapel of the Canyons is in a very unique location in Orange County. Beautiful forests and hills surround it. It is a great privilege for me to be able to serve the Lord and be a part of His work as He expands the ministry and builds His kingdom in this area. The vision of Calvary Chapel of the Canyons is to Prepare every L.I.F.E. to reach the world one life at a time! We have a great desire to share the love of Jesus to as many people as possible, and to teach God's word thoroughly, consistently and as diligently as possible.
I pray that you, too, would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that you will discover how wonderful the will of God will be in your life.
The Prepared L.I.F.E.