I remember receiving the call in early 1999 from Jeff Watson asking me if I would be interested in going with Calvary Baptist Church to China on a basketball mission trip. At that time, I was a rookie with the Raleigh Police Department, newly married and a new father. From outward appearances many would have said that Linda (my wife) and I were living the dream. However, the opposite was true. Our marriage, two years in, was headed for destruction. We had one child and another on the way. We both were secretly living selfish lives.
Basketball was my passion and identity during my high school and college years. So, when Jeff called I considered the trip simply because it was a basketball trip. As part of the preparation for the trip, I had to prepare my testimony and a devotion. I didn’t know what a testimony was and I had never really read or studied the Bible. A good friend of mine who was an intern at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh helped me prepare both. I went through all the training and was excited about the opportunity. However, at home I continued to live a sinful lifestyle not thinking too much about God or changing anything.
In June 1999, I boarded a plane for Detroit and then on to Beijing. All of the guys who were on the team were similar to me having played basketball in college. As we sat in the Detroit airport, one of the team members, Robert Bryant, begin to explain the Gospel by illustrating some principles on a napkin. He was talking to the group but the Lord was speaking to me. The parts of the Gospel that I heard over the years was now being clearly perceived. When we arrived in Beijing, we sat in hotel room and God spoke to me through the men in the room. They were all basketball players, but there was something different about them. They had a relationship with Jesus and their identity was not in basketball but Jesus Christ. It was on that China trip 20 years ago that God changed the course of my life. I still have the journal from that trip where I wrote that I finally found the peace that I had been searching for in so many worldly things.
As I returned to the US, everything was new! My wife Linda trusted Christ nine months later. He saved our marriage! We now have four children who are all following the Lord. God called me away from the Police Dept. in 2011 to join the staff at Christ Baptist Church in Raleigh as the Missions and Discipleship pastor. Currently, I am serving as the Missions pastor at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh and still leading teams to China!