How did you become a Christian?
I was living a life apart from God. I fully believed that living for myself and chasing my desires of money, women, and partying would lead me to joy and happiness. I grew up in the Catholic church and I think because of that I knew, after years of making a very good living, living a promiscuous lifestyle and indulging in the party scene, that all of my vices were things that God was not pleased with—and that is why they didn’t satisfy. So when this girl that I had been dating suggested that we go the Rock Church because it was popular, I thought I should go.
So you went and gave your life to Christ?
Well not exactly. The first time we went, Rock Church was still on Ruffin Road and the parking was so crazy that we had to park really far away. When we finally made it through the doors, it was packed. I ended up sitting behind a pillar and I couldn’t see a thing. It wasn’t a good first impression. Two years later, I ended up giving the Rock another chance and what I heard from the stage was a message that soaked in, that God would take away all the emptiness that I felt in all of my worldly pursuits. I learned that I no longer needed to keep trying to change on my own and not get anywhere. I also learned that if I gave my life to Him, He would come in and change my life. I just had to surrender to Him. And that is what happened.
You married someone from the church. How did that happen?
Leading up to the point where I gave my life to Christ, I had a very self-serving view towards women and relationships that I wasn’t able to break away from in my own strength. When I became a Christian, I begged God to release me from that entirely. I asked him to take away any sexual desire that I had, to the point that I didn’t want to be the slightest interested in women at all. I wanted to focus on Christ alone and to allow Him to re-wire my heart and brain. It was a scary thing because I didn’t want to be without the desire for the rest of my life so I had to trust that He would be agreeable to give it back one day! But the most amazing thing happened. For about a year and a half, my interest in women went away. Now let me remind you that I had a terrible, wandering eye. When my desires suddenly vanished, I knew God had stepped in. That could have never happened in my own strength. I tried a thousand times. I was surrounded by my new church friends, many of whom were really pretty girls, and I felt nothing. I barely even noticed them. I couldn’t have been happier.
I went on a mission trip to St. Lucia with the Rock and there was this one girl there, who all of a sudden caught my eye. Here I was, walking hand in hand with God in this season of self-imposed singleness and suddenly this one girl stepped out of the crowd and into my consciousness. I had to take it seriously. I had to find out who she was and why I was suddenly so interested.
One day while in St. Lucia, a big group of us took a catamaran down the coast of the island. We were giving our testimonies and Carissa stood to give hers. God was laying it on thick. A catamaran, the beauty of the islands and then this beautiful woman stands to tell about her faith.
So what happened?
Once we got back from St. Lucia we started dating and knew from the beginning, in a number of miraculous ways, that God had put us together. We celebrated our 1-year wedding anniversary on July 1, 2014.
How did you come to be in the ministry?
I was in a Bible study and the leader went away on vacation. He asked me to stand in for him and when I did, people kept telling me that they really felt like I had a lot to offer. It was at that moment that the idea was planted in my mind. I prayed about it and that’s when I heard God say, “Yes, this is your future.”
Was it a shock when you were asked to take the position of North County Campus Pastor?
Absolutely. I was two years into my position as the LIFE Groups Coordinator at the Rock Church and I liked it and felt like I was making a difference, when all of a sudden Pastor Ricky Page called and said he wanted me to throw my hat in the running for one of the Associate Campus Pastor positions. Nothing like that had ever crossed my mind. I initially decided I wouldn’t pursue it. But after a lot of prayer I thought, well perhaps I should just step forward and see what God does with it. I went through a few of the interviews and then I got a call for another. When I went in for the interview, our Executive Pastor of Operations asked me if I interested in becoming the North County Campus Pastor, not the Associate Pastor. Needless to say, I was shocked.
So Carissa and I drove up to North County, walked around and prayed about it. Within hours, we became confident this is where God was leading us. It was another pleasant surprise from God, but I think that’s how He does things.
So how is it going?
Great! Everybody, including the people who attend, have been so welcoming. Pastor Steve did a terrific job in preparing his staff for the transition.
What is the vision for North County?
To continue to grow and change people’s lives.