I spent most of my childhood in Flagstaff, Arizona, blessed with wonderful parents who continually loved and supported my sister and I. We were a very active family – our weekends were filled with outdoor adventures throughout the southwest – climbing mountains, rafting down rivers, backpacking in canyons, swimming in creeks. I’m so thankful for my family! I ended up getting a full-ride scholarship to play volleyball at Gonzaga University, a Jesuit college in Spokane, Washington.
In the fall of my sophmore year, a few of my friends invited me to come to church with them. I went and during the worship time, I realized there was something there that was filling me in a way that nothing else in my life had. It was a sense of peace, serenity, love – I found out later that this is the presence of God. I wanted more of this, so I started going to church, not because my family was going but because I wanted to go. And I began to wonder if this whole Jesus thing was true. At this point I was atheist, and I thought that humans made up God to feel good about the good things they do in the world. Yet this didn’t sit right with me. I decided that I would never know if Christianity was true unless I tried it.
So I started going to a weekly bible study with New Community Church, a great church in Spokane. This led to regular lunches with a church leader, where I was given space to ask tough questions. I had a hard time trusting in God because I felt like my life was great, why should I change anything? I had conversations with dozens of my classmates, saying “I don’t believe in God, but tell me why you do.” In this season of my life, God began to awaken my heart and soul, enlivening me to the reality and truth found in Jesus.
One evening, one of my mentors clearly explained the gospel to me as we prayed together and it felt like something “clicked.” I realized I was so far from God and I longed for His love like others talked about. I recognized a tension in me, where my head believed it was true, but my heart didn’t. That night in my dorm bed I prayed, “Jesus, I want to fully believe in you. Reveal yourself to me.”
The next morning, I woke up, and it might sound crazy, but the whole world looked different. The bible talks about how scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and a similar thing happened to me. It was springtime, and as I looked out the window, the sky was bluer than I’ve ever seen it, and the grass was a vibrant green. It was like everything had gone from being in black and white to technicolor. I would always wake up and pray, “Jesus, help me believe in you,” but that morning as I began to pray that prayer, I realized that something in me had changed. I believed! Where before I had doubts, now I couldn’t explain it, but I just knew that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was true. And I had this undeniable desire to tell everyone I knew about His love.
That fall, I was also going around the city and visiting many different churches. I saw amazing things that were happening within various Christian circles, the incredible diversity and uniqueness among church denominations and ministry groups. However, God began to burden me with a passion for change within the Christian community. What I noticed was that each church seemed to be acting as its own separate entity, with walls built up between denominations and cultures rather than the interconnected united body of believers present within the first Christian Church. That fall, I also became filled with the Holy Spirit, which changed my Christian walk, as I felt a greater intimacy with Jesus and an incredible desire to go out and tell others about the good news.
A few months later I became connected with a pastor and his wife who had just moved to the Cambridge area and were starting a church in near where I lived. I felt connected with their vision of the church and decided to do whatever I could to help them plant Journey Church.
That spring, Pastor Kent also taught me about the importance of water baptism for believers. It’s a command that Jesus gives us and was such an integral practice for believers in the first Christian church. I decided to do it on Easter in the Charles River. I also felt led to undertake a long fast in the days leading up to my baptism, as a sign of consecrating myself to the Lord. Below is a photo of my baptism.
This was an incredible time for me where I literally had to rely on Him every minute of every day. I was asking God “Who am I? What did you create me to do?” I sensed I was to be in Boston to help unite the body of Christ and I received a few powerful visions relating to this.
That same spring, I met up with another young man with a similar passion and we began sending out weekly “UniteBoston” newsletters of Christian events taking place throughout the city. This initiative began to explode; within seven months there were over 1,000 Christians in the area receiving our weekly email newsletter and we had made formal connections with over sixty local churches and ministries. Additionally, a leadership team had formed, consisting of about ten young adults passionate about unity within our city. We launched a website on April 30, 2011 and are working to become an official 501c3 non-profit organization.
I’d encourage you to check out our website to learn more about UniteBoston: www.uniteboston.com It has been very exciting for me to see the unity that is stirring in Boston and the grace that God has given me to foster this unity.
So, I am currently working as a missionary to Boston – but this coming July, I feel called to travel with sixty other young people (aged 21-35) to minister and serve in eleven different countries around the world with a program called the World Race. In each country, we will be divided into small teams and partnered with local Christian organizations to work and serve with them for the month. Starting in Ireland, we will travel to Ukraine, Russia, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, India, Cambodia, Malysia, and even one country which is to-be-determined. You can learn more about the story of how God called me to the World Race on my blog post here.
While I do feel called to Boston, I believe that God is sending me on this journey as a means of training and equipping me in preparation for further work here in the city. As Boston sends people to the nations, and as Boston is a hub of the world’s peoples and cultures, I believe that God is sending me to these nations to gain experience and knowledge in these places. One of our main goals with UniteBoston is to help unite various cultures and people groups in Greater Boston, and I believe this experience will be instrumental in helping to shape the vision and strategy of our work. I do want to be open to how the Lord might speak to me on this trip, but my intention is to return to Boston after the Race.