Early Life, Marriage and the Marines:
I was born and raised in a Catholic home; christened, confirmed, served as an altar boy and a choir boy. I believed at the age of eleven I was being called to be a priest, but that’s another story. I attended Catholic school for 8 years and my parents were not able to continue paying for private school through my senior year so it was off to public school. Wow, what an eye opener, Brooklyn Junior High 1969.
I met my future wife, Marilyn, in my junior year of high school. She had a good Christian upbringing in an independent fundamental Baptist church. Her mother was an ardent witness for Jesus and she had lost her husband when Marilyn was just 14 and the last sibling at home. Her mother was against her dating a Catholic, but put up with me and witnessed to me every chance she got.
As I was approaching graduation my senior year I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, all I knew is that I wanted to graduate and go to work; I hated school. Then in my senior year the Marine Corps recruiters showed up at my school with those awesome uniforms on. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do with my life, be a United States Marine.
I signed up for four years and went to aviation basic helicopter school to be a mechanic and crew chief on helicopters. I loved it; the Marines became my god. Rank came very quickly / E5 in just two years and two months. Along the way I had cut God and momma out of my life and jumped head long into the world drinking and partying, running with a bad bunch of people, my heroes, veterans of the Vietnam War.
I married Marilyn, my high school sweet heart, six months into my tour of duty. We could not get our parents to agree on where we would get married so we eloped and got married by a Justice of the Peace. Meanwhile, her mother and her church would continue to pray for us.
Jesus Led Me All the Way:
As I look back on my life in the Marine Corps I think of numerous times I could’ve been killed:
- I’ve had guns pulled on me,
- a knife pulled on me,
- a broken bottle pulled on me by drunk Marines
and I was never touched.
One particular night we were flying night ops and landing in tight quarter landing strips in the woods. As crew-chief I would sit in the door way helping the pilots to stay clear of trees and when we were about to climb out a Marine twin rotor helicopter flew directly overhead close enough to read the writing on the underbelly. I would later ask myself why would God look out for a heathen sinner like me and then I remembered a dear mother-in-law and a church back home praying for me was the only answer.
I was approaching the end of my four year tour and was determined to sign up for another four years, but God was starting to work in my life. Just a few months prior to reenlistment as I walked through the hydraulics shop at work. I saw a marine who had been in twenty years approximately forty-five years old who looked like sixty, pickled from drinking. At that moment I believe it was God speaking to me, answering the prayers of a mother in law and her church saying, “That’s you in twenty years without your wife.”
It scared me to the point of getting out of the service and pursuing a 2 year tech school to get my mechanics license to work on aircraft. I attended Piedmont Aviation School for two years where I met Roy Chick Watkins, at that time, a Missionary to Liberia, West Africa. He was a bush pilot 25 years and an independent Baptist missionary. He would witness to me and I told him I was saved. God used him to speak to me about my soul and disciple me. Here I saw a real Christian who was very helpful in my life.
Conversion and Call:
After graduation I moved to Milton, Florida and went to work at NAS Whiting Field on a civilian contract working on the Navy T-34C trainer aircraft. It was there that I met Phil Talbert and Steve Athearn who invited me to Trinity Baptist Church where I got under consistent preaching of the Word of God . I came to know Jesus as my Savior January 13, 1980, my wife trusted Jesus in the summer of 1979.
My growth in Christ would be slow to start off with, but eventually find my wife and me serving, first as janitors, then working on the bus, then teaching Sunday school, later youth director and myself deacon and later I would become assistant pastor of TBC.
In time the Lord would convict me at a revival and I would surrender to the Lord for the ministry of missions March 1993. I would attend Gulf Coast Bible Institute a 4 year program and obtain my Bachelor in Biblical studies. I would be ordained to the gospel ministry January 1997 and become assistant Pastor one year prior to leaving for the Dominican Republic.
The Lord would allow my wife and me to serve in the Dominican Republic 8 years where we had the privilege of establishing an independent Baptist church in the capitol of Santo Domingo, naming the church after our church back home, Trinity Baptist Church. To God be the glory great things he hath done. My life’s verse is Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
Trinity Baptist Church:
In November of 2007, our pastor would pass away as a result of the cancer he had battled for some 14 years. I was asked to consider coming home to be the pastor of TBC. The work in the DR was not complete but I felt it my duty to at least candidate. The church voted to take me on as their new pastor. Through much prayer, with the Lord making it very clear that I needed to return home and that He would take care of the work in the DR, I accepted the call to pastor TBC, January 2008, where I would serve 13 years as pastor.
In March 2019 my wife would succumb to cancer and spiritually speaking, I would lose my right arm, my best friend and a great help meet; a great preacher’s wife. The work in the Dominican Republic celebrated 19 years December 2022 and Trinity Baptist Church of Milton Florida 50 years May 2020.
I served as pastor another 2 years and resigned August 2021, putting another young pastor in my place.
My Challenge to all who read my testimony:
The apostle Paul writes, 1 Timothy 1:12 “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”
I thank the Lord for enabling my wife and me, putting us into the ministry. There is no greater joy than serving the Lord and watching Him work in you as you surrender to Him for whatever He wants.
I am so happy to be an instrument in the conversion and transformation of the lives of others, 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.”
I do not believe my work is done, my motto continues to be: Whatever, Whenever, Wherever. And I will always thank Christ Jesus our Lord.
John writes, Revelation 5:13 “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”