What brought you into serving the faith-based community in Bartow County and can you explain your role as an associational missionary?
A. I was on a mission trip in South Africa in 2007 and God told me it was time to make a transition from pastoring into my present role. I had always known that I would serve in this capacity. In the meeting with the search team for the Bartow Baptist Association, we both sensed it was God's will for me to come and serve here in the Bartow area.
My role as an associational missionary is basically to be the regional overseer/coordinator for Southern Baptist Churches. In that role, I get to help churches be all that God has called them to be. I also am blessed to be able to network with the whole Body of Christ to make a difference here in our region.
How have you seen the Bartow National Day of Prayer grow and what role do you have in organizing the event?
A. We were blessed to have a strong National Day of Prayer in Bartow, but in recent years we have seen participation grow consistently. Last year we had a stadium event in which we had 4,000 people, which is amazing. That made our National Day of Prayer the largest that we know of across the nation. I have had the honor and privilege to serve on the Bartow National Day of Prayer Team that helps plan the event as well as making sure that the word gets out to all of the churches.
How has SPLASH Bartow grown?
A. SPLASH Bartow is a multi-generational local mission experience that has not only grown tremendously, but has a huge impact. SPLASH encourages students to serve others for a lifetime. The first year we did SPLASH we had 158 students and 18 churches participating. Last year, in just it's fourth year, SPLASH had 400 students and 350 adults from 40 churches working on 110 different sites. SPLASH is even bigger this year. We have 450 students registered from 47 churches. Please know that we are still looking for adults to help pull this off. Any adult who wants to participate can go to www.splashbartow.org. We have lots of opportunities, One of the interesting things about SPLASH is that people across Georgia are doing their own SPLASH. The Macon, Chattooga, Catoosa, Carrollton and Henry County and other areas are doing SPLASH in Georgia and as well as in West Virginia. SPLASH has truly been one of the great moves of God that I have been able to see. Our students are awesome.
How is Bartow County different from other communities you have served?
A. There are some pretty significant differences between Bartow County and some other communities that I have served. I have served in seven communities in three different states. We have seen a stirring of God here that has expressed itself in a unity among the churches that is special. Bartow County is incredibly open. People who have been born and raised in Bartow as well as new people have been very welcoming to me and my family. Not every community is this welcoming. Also, there is real community feel here that makes Bartow County just a little bit different. There is a better working relationship between government, businesses, churches and schools here than other communities. There are other areas, but these stand out.
What is your greatest achievement?
A. That really is an uncomfortable question, because anything good that comes from me is from God. The idea for SPLASH was not mine. That came from God. Please know that anything good is from God. I would say for me, "the highest achievement, the greatest success is a right relationship with God."
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
A. Our family collected Indian artifacts. My dad has a museum at his house.
What do you feel is the best advice your father has ever given you?
A. I have been incredibly blessed to grow up in a very strong family. My dad has always given his sons great advice. Probably the best thing he did was practice what he preached. He was always telling us to work hard, but he showed us how to do it. So practicing what he preached was a great life example.
I was told some of your children were in Tuscaloosa during the April 27, 2011, tornado. As a father, what was going through your mind with your children being away and what drew you to head the relief effort through the faith-based community in Bartow?
A. My wife and I have five children, a son and four daughters. Our son Matthew and our daughter Hannah were in Tuscaloosa when the tornado hit. I was out in the back yard with my father in law when my wife called me and told me of the tornado in Tuscaloosa and that it was headed toward our kids. I told my father-in-law about it and we prayed right there in the back yard. Also, I had a daughter in Rome at Berry College and a tornado went through there that same night. Then, later that night, we sat and watched a tornado go north of our house through Bartow County. You have a lot of thoughts and emotions during a time like that.
Twenty-five years earlier, our son had emergency open-heart surgery when he was 3 months old. We were told he would either live or die on the operating table. I settled something then that I have walked with since. That is "my children are not mine, they are God's and they are in His hands. He can take care of them better than I can." So since God is much bigger and more powerful than I am, it is just a matter of faith and trusting your kids to Him and that is what we did.
The second part of the question is what led me to be involved in the relief effort. We, the Christian community, had been praying for the seven mountains in our community. These mountains are the seven major areas of a community. They include: government, business, education, religion, arts and entertainment, media and the family. We had been praying for each of those areas. When the government said we want you to help mobilize the churches to respond to the tornado, the answer was to say "yes." God just spoke so clearly and said that you have been praying and now is your opportunity to help. Also, we have been telling students at SPLASH that they are supposed to go out and serve others and their community for a lifetime. That is what SPLASH is all about and this was an opportunity for Christians throughout this community to SPLASH their community. You can't say no to those kinds of things.
Do you have personal philosophy?
A. It would be summarized: "Trust in the Lord with all year heart and lean not to your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."