I am occasionally asked, “Where are you from?” and I am reminded that I am not a native to West Tennessee. My accent is distinctly South African, which stands to reason, since I was raised there. Oddly enough, I was born not far from my home here in Jackson. My first breath was taken in Louisville, Kentucky. My family was in the Bluegrass state in order for my father to complete his theological training. Shortly after my arrival, dad graduated and the family returned home to Johannesburg.
Africa, with all its visual wonder, played a key role in my salvation. It was an unexpected experience in the bush that struck my soul and changed my life. Alone in the dark, while gazing at the heavens, it struck me how small and insignificant I was. I knew God to be real, but I had given him a ‘rain check’, submission to his Lordship would come at a later date—a date of my choosing. But in that moment, beneath the Southern Cross, I suddenly saw the idiocy of my pride. Grace is God’s imperative and unbidden it flooded into my soul. My simple prayer was ‘OK’. It was an unconditional surrender and I entered into a relationship with the giver of life. It was just days later that I first felt the tug of the Lord’s call into pastoral ministry.
The journey into ministry went through the corridors of education. After graduating college I entered the teaching profession. It was during this time that I married Kathy. We met in college where I had the privilege of introducing her to Christ. We became fast friends; study partners and steadily our friendship became romantic. She is awesome—she is the reason people like me! Together we have been blessed with a daughter, eleven-year-old Megan, a son, seven-year-old Ryan, and a five-year-old little girl, Caroline.
After two years of marriage, Kathy and I made a move to the States where I began my theological studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
After graduating, we moved to Little Rock, Arkansas to participate in a new church planting initiative. I was to be a guinea pig in an experimental program! It was awesome! I was able to explore the practical “how-to’s” of church leadership before launching out to plant a church.
The field we landed in was here in Jackson, TN. And what fertile soil it is. I have been the directional pastor here for the past twelve years and have been constantly amazed at my good fortune. Surrounded by awesome elders, a talented and unified staff, I get to minister to some of the finest people I have ever met.
That one night beneath the stars changed the whole direction of my life and I am grateful. God be praised for this life that he has redeemed!