I love Jesus Christ. He has captured my heart, and I can not imagine life without Him. I can think of no greater honor that to give my life in absolute and complete surrender, loyalty, and service to my King.
I grew up in the best home in America. My Dad and Mom are my heroes and continue to be my greatest friends today. They provided me an atmosphere of unconditional love, and demonstrated how to follow Jesus. I can remember my father reading from the Psalms every morning in his chair, praying quietly to His Lord. I will never forget my mom walking my sister and me to Hennessy Elementary School every morning and giving us the biggest hugs in the universe when we came home. We traveled often to see extended family, explored the parks around our home in Grass Valley learning the wonders of God's creation, and went to church and Sunday School every week. I loved our church, probably because I got to listen to my dad tell stories every week from the stage.
My own walk with Christ formalized while I was in Junior High from the mentoring of my youth pastor Jeff Hannah. He took me aside and walked with me for a year, teaching me the difference between hanging out in church and fixing my eyes on Jesus daily. He also taught me the basics of how to read my Bible daily, how to pray consistently, and introduced me to the realm of apologetics- the invigorating study of defending your faith with real knowledge and facts.
I quickly aspired to leadership in the High School group, wanting to follow Jeff's footsteps after he left. My understanding of God was greatly enlarged through the many National Youth Conferences and Mission trips to LA and Mexico that my youth group went on and through the friendship of my big "bro" Lonnie Heinke. With each trip I sensed God's call even stronger to follow Him. Yet there were plenty of areas of my life not yet brought into obedience with God. Girls were just to pretty not to date and kiss, and I figured I could help them out in their faith, or lack thereof by dating them. It never worked. I finally fell head over heals for a gal and thought I had found perfect love. When she dumped me a few days before graduation, it was the most miserable, and at the same time, wonderful thing that could have happened.
I ended up at Seattle University for college. Actually getting there is one of the greatest miracle stories of my life. My heart had been set on only the highest standards of education, and I was accepted at the Air Force Academy, West Point, and Stanford. Thinking Stanford would give me the best education in the humanities, I set my plans on Palo Alto. I was enrolled in the Army ROTC program at Santa Clara, and was excited to live near my new friend Lambert Dolphin. A week before classes started, already late into September, my financial aid collapsed. In a moment of inspiration I pulled out an old letter from Seattle U. offering a full ride with my ROTC scholarship. I called them up, and in 3 days they had walked in an application, created and additional scholarship, found room in housing, and asked me to join the Honor Program. It was all the Lord's doing (Proverbs 16:9), rolling out a red carpet to invite me into a developing plan He wanted me to be a part of for a lifetime. The night before I left I went on a long prayer walk and stopped to enjoy the sunset. As I look north along the freeway I would soon take to Seattle, I was swept into the most brilliant and inviting sunset I have ever seen in my life. My soul was pulled towards radiant transcendental beauty. Turning south I look down the path to Stanford- utter darkness.
My four years at Seattle University transformed my life. The first man I met was Mike Brantley- a bellowing, sharp, charismatic ROTC professor who would later become one of my greatest friends and mentors. The moment we learned that we had a common hero in Duane Hardesty, my uncle and his spiritual mentor and Squadron Commander as a 2LT, we were inseparable. I then met Grant Erickson through a sign I had posted on my door asking for others to join me in a Bible study. Expecting hundreds to flock to the call, Grant was the only person who answered. We met in his room and from our first encounter I sensed that he was my long lost twin brother.
With Mike's help, Grant and I launched a small grassroots worship time and formed an intensive Core group with two other guys, Jeremy Jacobs and Steve Davis. From these friendships God grew a campus wide ministry that built a living and active family of believers at Seattle University. Through all the worship nights, core groups, fun nights and retreats, many men and women encountered Jesus Christ and grew in an intimate walk with Him. We also began to meet other believers around the state at different colleges and came to enjoy a thriving group of friendships that continue to this day. I will forever be indebted to the Lord for bringing me to Seattle U and unfolding the friendships that were built during that time. We did not do many things right, but one thing we thrived on was a radical and reckless abandon to Jesus Christ.
While we sought to influence the campus and lift up Jesus Christ, I look back in hindsight and realize that God was using all these events and relationship to change me forever. The single greatest thing that emerged from my years at Seattle University was a life long commitment to walk with Grant Erickson in pursuit of Jesus Christ. We realized through experience the Biblical principle of Ecclesiates 4, that two are better than one, and dreamed of living this out for a lifetime. I left SU and entered the Army, traveling to Fort Lewis, Knox, Benning, and finally Fort Hood. Grant worked in ministry in Tacoma and got married over the next year. Our lives collided again, however, when Grant and Jonikka decided to live out this idea of walking together. They packed their bags, jumped into a mini van and U-Haul, and just showed up in Killeen Texas without a job, house, or reason to be here- other than walking with me.
Since their arrival, God has blown us away with his faithfulness and love. He has honored this commitment to walk together, and has opened doors of ministry and relationships through the Navigators and the Chaplains on Post. We continue to recklessly pursue Christ, and continue to dream of what the Lord is up to in our lives, in Killeen, and in the World.
Thank you Lord for everything!
Adventures in Kuwait
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Revised February 9, 2000, Friday, January 31, 2003.