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A little more than seven years ago I was released from prison for the third time. This time was different than the past couple times in the sense that I had finally gotten the whole “Jesus thing.” I had met him in a very real way and during my 2.5 years inside prison, I really got to know Him in an intimate way.
Shortly after coming home, I met a beautiful girl with a fire inside her for the Gospel. While we were dating, she brought me to her church to meet some of the people in her life. That church was Vineyard Church of North Phoenix. I was absolutely blown away that a church with thousands of people in attendance could feel so tightly woven. Within weeks I was serving weekly on the Worship Arts Tech Team, where I continued to serve for more than three years eventually moving into serving as a leader in Vineyard Youth. It was here that I found my true calling ministering to young people.
In 2020, when the whole world shut down, we found ourselves visiting the Prescott area nearly every other weekend. We planned to move to the area within five years. God had other plans though. In a matter of months, we found a new home, sold our home in Phoenix, and made the move out of Phoenix and into Prescott Valley, where we live now.
Since moving to our new town God has worked big in our lives. We had heard of a Vineyard church in the area, Starting Point Church of Prescott, and checked it our first weekend here. Here’s the part where I’d love to say we knew were home after that very first service, but that just isn’t the case. We felt God calling us to “shop around” a bit, and that’s just what we did. We checked out about a half dozen other churches in the area. They were all great churches with welcoming members, volunteers, and staff but none were home for us. We eventually found our way back to Starting Point on the grand opening of their new facility on Easter weekend and we knew we were home. It wasn’t that the other churches weren’t great, but they just weren’t for us.
One thing we’ve always loved about Vineyard churches is the belief that everyone gets to play. We have never felt the calling to simply be consumers. We know God created us to be contributors. At Starting Point, we were given the opportunity to be contributors. When we started attending service there was virtually no student ministry. My wife threw my name out there at a lunch meeting with a couple of the leaders as someone who might be interested in building a student ministry at Starting Point. I quickly found myself on staff as the Student Ministry Director and have had the absolute pleasure of serving our middle school and high school students alongside Crista.
Since joining the staff at Starting Point Jesus has opened doors I never thought possible for a guy like me. I coordinate a monthly ministry called Taco Tuesday in which we serve hundreds of tacos to hundreds of mall employees. We do a weekly Discovery Group with our middle schoolers on Sunday morning where we get a chance to really dive into the Word and have seen massive growth in our students. We do a weekly Youth night for middle school and high school students on Wednesday nights that’s all about fostering healthy relationships between students and is a safe place to meet Jesus face to face.
For a guy like me, who nearly a decade ago was absolutely lost to drugs and alcohol, on his way to prison for the third time – a life like this shouldn’t be possible. For a blended family and marriage like ours, that was on the verge of divorce 5 years ago, our marriage shouldn’t be possible. But we have realized the truth in Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” I never could have gotten my life to where it is on my own. Crista and I could never have reconciled our differences and revived our marriage on our own. When we started to submit to God and surrender all of it to Him, He worked in ways unimaginable to us.
We know we’re home where we are now. We know God is using us to touch the lives of others and bring them to His feet. We know He has so much more in store for us, our family, our community, and our ministry. We are Vineyard.