I am a native of North Dakota, born with a “Volga Deustch” heritage. (My family came from Russia, but is ethnically German.) My early years in rural North Dakota were followed by a move to Chicago during my school years. Most of my life since then has been lived in the large metro areas of the US. I’m the oldest child in my family [have a brother and sister younger than myself and my parents were both ministers] which means I got “practiced” on a lot.
I attended the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana] and a young pastor named Dick Foth had a significant impact on my life. He helped me discern God’s direction in my life as I transitioned from a career in agriculture to one in Christian ministry. I transferred to a small bible college in California my sophomore year and there met my wife to be Lois. We married in December of 1971 spent about 8 years in local church ministry in California, Texas and Illinois in small churches and very large churches in both pastor and staff pastor positions.
One of my life’s focal points has been a desire to be part of the formation of emerging leaders in meaningful ways and in 1980 I was able to join the faculty of Southern California College (now Vanguard University) in Costa Mesa, CA. I served there through I999 on the faculty and administration and was able to commit myself long-term to emerging leadership that today serve some of the most effective congregations in my church (the Assemblies of God) I had the privilege of impacting missionaries and international leaders from a round the world and the passion for the formation of emerging leaders remains central to my life. Another key focus of my life is involvement in Kingdom ministry in parts of the world that need the power of Christ and the justice of the Kingdom. During my years in Costa Mesa I was able to participate in holistic ministry throughout Latin America as Vice President of Latin America ChildCare, a child development agency in Latin America and the Caribbean, sponsored by my church. It allowed me to participate in grassroots ministry that necessitated the power of the Gospel to transform lives as it facilitated development of marginalized children through educational and nutritional programs. This period of my life resulted in a deep commitment to justice issues, a rethinking of my understanding of the Kingdom of God and a bedrock reaffirmation of the necessity of the power of the Gospel to transform humanity among all people groups.
1999 was a significant year in my life as my passion for emerging leaders and my commitment to global mission came together in an opportunity to become president of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. It is a huge jump culturally from Orange County, California to Southwest Missouri. However, in a sense, it represents the journey God has had me on my entire life. I lead an institution deeply committed to the formation of emerging Pentecostal Leaders and the fostering of Kingdom ministry that understands and respond to the challenges of an unjust world where have and have nots grow increasingly distant from each other. While I live in a small city, I live in a state where there are more methamphetamine arrests than any other state in the US.
I live in the Missouri county with twice the reported domestic violence cases of any other county in Missouri. I live in a region where the descendants of the jayhawkers and bushwhackers of the Civil war still express themselves in various challenges to racial harmony. I live in the buckle of the Bible belt where religion all too often trumps the serious implications of following Jesus Christ.
All of the above simply explains the fact that God has connected the dots of life and made something out of very little. God has placed me in a role that he has been fitting me for through quite a circuitous route. Along the way children and grandchildren have graced my life with a treasure I will never be able to fathom. My Pentecostal faith tradition is very dear to me and the wellsprings of Spirit empowerment impact not only the more visible parts of my ministry, but my inner life as well.