I grew up in Kenai, Alaska. It is a smaller city in the south of Alaska, mostly known for tourism that brings fisherman from across the world in pursuit of huge King Salmon which make the Kenai River their home. My parents divorced when I was about 2 ½ years old and I was sent back and forth between them until about 6 years old when I was sent back to my father for good.
My father soon remarried and I had a stepmother whom I often quarreled with which brought the wrath of my father down on me. Yelling and arguing was a daily event and I often cried myself to sleep begging God to come take me away. I was introduced to religion from birth and I attended Christian schools until I was in High School. My early life was rot with verbal abuse and feelings that no matter what, I was never good enough and no matter how hard I worked at something it would never be right. I developed a mindset of Performance Based Perfectionism which I still struggle with today.
My best friend and I used to talk about the verbal and physical abuse we endured by our fathers. Those conversations were very dark and we even fantasized about killing our dads.
Journey to Christ
When I was around 8 years old, I attended an event that hosted Dave Roever as the speaker. For those of you who don’t know him, he was a Vietnam Veteran who was burned beyond recognition when a phosphorous grenade he was about to throw blew up in his hand. After a grueling recovery he became a Public Speaker with his focus on God. At the end of his story, he had an alter call and I felt a tugging on my heart. I went forward and asked Jesus into my heart and I knew from that moment on, I was going to Heaven when I died.
Living with Christ
I was baptized a short while later but it wasn’t until I was a teenager when I began to have a real zeal for Jesus. I read the Bible like it was water and I was a sponge. I wanted to be a part of every event that was being held by my church and I even became one of three Youth Leaders that ran the Youth Department at my church. I would lead worship on my guitar and one of the three of us would teach a self-prepared lesson. I would even join my church in walking to City Hall and praying for our town leadership. Walking Away from Christ It was at this time when I felt closest to God and I was “sold out” to Jesus when I began to be tempted by the devil. I began having a relationship with a girl my age and I started having trouble with lust as we fooled around. I started feeling like a hypocrite, talking the talk but not walking the walk. Feelings of guilt and shame tormented me and I finally resigned and completely walked away from God. I felt dirty and unlovable yet again. I spent the next several years filling the empty hole inside me with anything that would distract me, girls, alcohol, movies and video games. I tried to pretend to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be.
Gripped by Fear
In 2005 I joined the Marine Corps because I wanted to serve my Country, but also to have people think of me as the “tough” guy, while internally I felt like a pathetic wimp, constantly reminding myself of my inadequacies. In 2007 and 2009 I deployed to Iraq. My first deployment I lived in constant fear. I turned to cigarettes to mask my feelings, lighting each new cigarette with the smoldering remains of my last cigarette. I would do anything to deaden my emotions and keep myself from feeling. Shortly after returning from my deployment, my best friend was killed and I began to wish for death. I cried out to God but my heart was so hardened I had no desire to listen for an answer. My entire second deployment I was positive I would eat a bullet. I actually asked God to ‘just make it quick’. I physically survived that deployment but my mind was destroyed. I turned to alcohol to purge any and all thoughts of Iraq. I finally sought out help when one Sunday morning I was sitting in my bathtub with a bottle of rum floating next to me. I once again pretended to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be.
Returning to Christ
All of that came to a screeching halt on August 1, 2020. While riding my motorcycle out in the beautiful Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon, I was involved in a head-on collision with an SUV. I suffered over 16 broken bones, severe 3rd degree burns due to my motorcycle catching fire and blowing up, but my worst injury was a ruptured aorta. The responding medics described the scene as the most chaotic scene they’ve ever been to. There were three helicopters putting out the 5-acre fire my bike caused while a fourth helicopter rushed me to the hospital. While hospitalized I reached out to my father, who I hadn’t spoken to in 5 years. Before the accident I wanted nothing to do with him. In my mind I had no father. During my recovery not only did I witness miracle after miracle restore my body, God restored my relationship with my father. (My father is a totally different person than who he was when I was a child.)
Since my accident, I have rededicated my life to God, I daily seek relationship with him through scripture and prayer and I willingly share my story of redemption from the fire both physically and figuratively to anyone who will listen.
Life without Christ
If it weren’t for God’s grace, I would not be alive today. That’s not even including my motorcycle accident. I drowned my problems away with alcohol and I even briefly turned to drugs as the solution. Without God’s hand in my life, I would likely be dead or I would be a delusional homeless veteran just looking for his next fix. Without God, I am a pathetic has been with nothing to offer. With God, I am royalty with everything to offer through Him.
I spent nearly 20 years running from God. I became a drunkard and a womanizer. I walked away from a fiancée and her children that had become my own. I closed my heart to any relationship with my father and I locked the door on God. I served my Country as a Marine where I was decorated with several medals but I was still a miserable and lonely human being. I blamed God for all of my problems. It took a horrific accident for Jesus to grab my attention and it took God’s loving grace and mercy to draw me back into his arms. Since then, my relationship with my stepmom has been restored, I have a great relationship with my dad and an even better relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
PS In my early childhood my father made many mistakes as a father. He is the first to admit it. But I need to say this. In spite of his mistakes as a father (and as a husband) I saw many people’s lives touched by him from my childhood to now. In spite of his problems in the early years he has remain faithful to Jesus and has been, and is being used in a mighty way by God. I feel honored that the two of us are now ministering together.