Meet our Spring Intern: Phil Shiver

Meet our Spring Intern: Phil Shiver

We’re committed to investing in the gospel’s advance by investing in men who aspire to serve as vocational preachers and pastors. Remember Paul’s words to Timothy: “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Tim. 2:2). That’s our biblical strategy for finding and appointing elders here at Heritage, and for propagating the gospel beyond our walls.

With this in mind, meet Phil Shiver, who served with us as an intern this past spring. Phil was involved in a good bit of reading and writing, he joined our elders meetings, and he and I met weekly over twelve weeks. 

Our purpose in this internship is to see churches led by pastors who faithfully connect the Bible’s theology of the church to the church’s worship, life, and mission. In other words, to see churches flourish in the gospel and gospel work. Pray that Phil would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead.

Before we get to know you a bit, tell us what excited you the most about serving as an intern this spring? At the end I’ll ask you some questions for reflection on how it went.

I’m super excited to get to know more about church, in general, and how church is done. I look forward to building out answers to questions such as: Why do we have church? What’s the mission of the church? How do we accomplish that mission? But even more, I’m excited to get to know our church, and the why’s, what’s, and how’s of the things we do, here, at Heritage. I’m extremely grateful to be learning and serving here at a church that is so near and dear to my heart. As you invest in me and I in you I trust that the Lord will be honored and His people will be blessed.

Now, let’s go to the beginning, your new beginning. How did the Lord save you?

I came to understand my sinful state and need for Jesus Christ when I was seven years old at an AWANA service at my church. I had spoken frequently with my parents about salvation in the the months preceding, and on one night in the year 2000, I grabbed my teacher and asked him to lead me to Christ. He went through the gospel again and I prayed for Christ to save me from my sins. I was reborn. Since then, there have been times of great growth as well as times of trial, but my faith has grown and filled out and I have fallen more in love with Jesus along the way.

You’re not from Greenville originally. What places have you lived and how did you get to Greenville?

I am a southern transplant, originally from Buffalo, NY — the city of good neighbors, home of the chicken wing, beef on weck, the Buffalo Bills, copious amounts of snow, and Travel + Leisure Magazine’s “Favorite City” of 2016. Seriously, Buffalo is amazing, I loved growing up there. But I don’t intend to go back. Too cold. I came to Greenville in 2012 after transferring to Bob Jones University for my sophomore year of college. Besides those places, I have lived for a few months in Rome, Italy, and Salt Lake City, Utah as a result of internships.

You’ve been at Heritage for four years now. What has God done in you during that time?

One thing that has grown immensely during my time at HBC is a love for the local church. In high school and college, I benefited greatly from parachurch ministries, but struggled to maintain consistency in my spiritual life. Since becoming a member at HBC, I have experienced the riches of being a part of a body, contributing to and gleaning from the nourishment of the other members as we walk in the Spirit day-by-day together.

You desire to serve vocationally as a pastor. How did God grow that desire in you?

I often describe my desire to serve vocationally as a pastor as a stone in my shoe. It’s something that I sense the Lord placed in my heart (or my shoe in the case of the analogy) that I couldn’t just forget and move on. God kept reminding me about it. I could sense the Lord growing the desire in me ever since serving as a summer counselor at Northland Camp after my sophomore year of college. But, I kept ignoring it, electing to pursue a degree in history and job opportunities in politics, two other interests of mine. Eventually, after working in political media for a few years, I grew a bit restless and decided I wanted to pursue a seminary degree. At that time, I simply wanted to grow in my knowledge of God. But in due course, the Lord made it clearer to me that he may have other plans.

You recently finished a degree. Tell us a bit about the degree and your favorite class.

Yes, I completed my Master of Arts in Theology degree from Biola University last May. It was a bit longer than your traditional MA at 49 credits, but still much shorter than most Masters of Divinity degrees, which are usually north of 80 credits. The work was hard, especially since I completed much of it while having a full-time job. But, I truly enjoyed the subject matter. My favorite class was probably Contemporary Theology with Dr. Rob Price. The name is a bit misleading, because the course was not about the contemporary era of theology, akin to “Theology from the 1900s—the present,” but rather it was a seminar class on contemporary issues facing the church, such as identity, race, gender, etc. The class went like so: every couple of weeks, we would take an issue, do a bunch of reading on it from several different perspectives, and then write research papers. The professor did an excellent job of forcing us to think critically about the issues and of compelling us to use scripture and historical church doctrine to present a theological argument.

Besides the Bible, what’s the book that has had the most influence on your life and why?

This has to be the toughest question, there are so many. So, I’m going to pick a weird one just for fun: Notes From A Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World, by N.D. Wilson. This book is a dizzying rollercoaster-like sensory experience unlike any other book I’ve read. Wilson is a gifted writer. He brings theology, philosophy, poetry, and reality all together, forcing you to stop seeing life through tired, dull eyes. He simply doesn’t let you box God in or sum God up—instead you end up praising God for all that He is and all that he has given us in His “spoken world.” It’s not necessarily a book I’d read for theological instruction, but rather one I’d read in order to stir up excitement about God and life.

Now, the most influential sermon on your life and why?

Any sermon by Trent Hunter (kidding). I would have to say, “Don’t Waste Your Life” by Will Galkin out of the well-known text in Ecclesiastes 12 thats starts with: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’” He preached it during staff training at Northland Camp in 2013. That summer was one of the most formative seasons of my life and that sermon was one of the most formative moments of the summer. The sermon was a system reset for me. Will Galkin had a way of relating the text in a piercingly fresh way, and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart about how utterly short and meaningless life is without knowing and serving God. Will’s reverberating shriek, “Don’t waste your life!” has stuck with me until today—sometimes I hear it in my sleep and wake up in cold sweats. Kidding, but the sermon really is an anchor and a challenge for me.

How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies?

I’m pretty typical. I like doing whatever my friends are doing. I prefer being outside. I absolutely love hiking, camping, hammocking, exploring new places, playing pretty much any sport (though basketball, football, and golf are my favorites), or any yard activity. I also have a Mavic Air drone. I’m no Pete Hansen, but I dabble.

If indoors, I love card games (like Rummy) or board games (especially Risk) or trivia games (if you’ve never played BezzerWizzer, you should). I also enjoy attempting to play my guitar every now and then. Oh, and I’m a big fan of coffee, too, and coffee shops. I often run into Trent at some of the places around town.

Any odd talents that we should know about up front?

None that I’ve discovered yet. If pressed for one, I’d say I can do a strange and very loud “call,” not really sure how to describe it. That normally only comes out in a camp setting, though, or when I’m hyped up around the teen (L3inc) group at church.

Okay, your favorite animal and why?

This has changed over the years. I used to say the cheetah. Why? Because it’s super fast, and that’s pretty much all there was to it. Now, I’m leaning towards the wolf. I like how it’s mysterious and wild, yet noble, and a team player.

You read twelve books over this internship. Good job. Which will prove the most useful to you as a pastor and why?

They were all so helpful, so it’s hard to pick. But I think Rinne’s little book, Church Elders, was my favorite. It was packed with an abundance of useful information and spiritual instruction. As someone who might one day be a pastor, I found this book to be the perfect introductory work into the biblical role of eldership. It not only provided a thorough job description of eldership, but also biblically explained how eldership is done. I will always remember Rinne’s admonition to “smell like the sheep” as Jesus did, leading as a servant and caring for the flock.

What are two or three lessons you learned about eldering during your internship?

First, this internship has impressed upon me the immense importance of having a tight ecclesiology, or theology of the church. Starting with membership, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, then moving to preaching, teaching, and missions, then budgeting, care for the elderly, and more. All of these topics are not disparate parts in the life of the church, but are tightly-bound elements of following Christ within a community of believers. Churches can worship well when they are clear on all that scripture says pertaining to ecclesiology. I have become convinced of this through the internship — through both the assigned books and conversations with Trent.

Secondly, in a more intimate sense, I have learned about the care that Heritage’s elders, staff workers, and members provide the church, and have been blessed in witnessing their godly work. Through sitting in on elders meetings and discussing sermon prep with Trent, to watching worship practices and observing the tech team set up for services — both onsite and online — to participating in prayer meetings with the church-at-large, I have witnessed the work that goes into doing church. But more so, I have witnessed the joy with which the whole Heritage body carries out that work, and have been blessed by it.

Meet Our Summer Intern: Chris Gerber (Part 2)

Meet Our Summer Intern: Chris Gerber (Part 2)

 

A few weeks back we introduced you to Chris Gerber in Part 1 of this two-part post. Chris has worked through about five books, written as many short book reviews, and has led out for Evening Prayer once. Greet him when you see him around the church.

Let’s pick up where we left off. 

 

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What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?

I don’t know that I can say I have a favorite book. I have always enjoyed the historical books of the Old Testament. I like history and the fact that in God’s revelation we have the lives and history of the people of God before us recorded in riveting stories; that is something I have always enjoyed. It is a reminder that we are part of a grand story ourselves as followers of God.

What book has had the most impact on your life, besides the Bible?

This is a hard one to answer. I have read some wonderful books in the past decade. I think The Story of Christianity, by Justo Gonzalez had a profound impact on my thinking. Church history gave me a broader perspective on what God has done in the life of the church. As Gonzalez writes, “without understanding that past we are unable to understand ourselves.” This book helped me evaluate many things about the church by understanding its history and helped me evaluate my own preconceptions about what the church is and should be.

Tell us about the most influential sermon you’ve heard?

This is a hard one as well. It wasn’t so much a sermon as it was a talk to the ministerial class at Bob Jones University by missionary J.D. Crowley. I think it was a talk that grabbed my attention as it showed me how many ministerial students will disqualify themselves for the ministry. I think it gave me a right fear of God and that talk has continued to remind of the need for perseverance in ministry and to rely on the grace of God for it all.

How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies?

My down time these days is mostly spent with my wife and daughter. Although, I’ve always enjoyed visiting historical places. Those are mostly of Civil War battlefields as that was a large interest of mine for most of my life so far.

Okay, now a few left fielders: What is the dumbest thing you did as a kid?

The one thing that always comes to mind is the time when I was probably around 12 years old. My sister and I were looking for something to do in the house and I asked if she would let me on her shoulders. I hadn’t quite hit my growth spurt, so I was smaller than her at the time. She obliged and I got on her shoulders by stepping on a bench seat in front of large, vertical window panes near the entrance to the house. Needless to say she couldn’t support me well and I landed read end first into the window! It didn’t completely break but there was a nice posterior shaped imprint in the fractured glass. We decided to hide from my parents as they were not home at the time. We thought we would get the spanking of a lifetime. Fortunately for us, they couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.

Any odd talents that we should know about up front?

I think it is often said about me that I have an uncanny ability to remember the most useless information.

What’s your favorite animal, and why?

It’s gotta be a pig. Those barbecue ribs from Texas Roadhouse are awesome!

How can we pray for you this summer?

Pray that I grow in my knowledge of God. Pray that I learn much about what it is to serve the church. Pray that I become a better leader, husband and father for my family.

 

Meet Our Summer Intern: Chris Gerber (Part 1)

Meet Our Summer Intern: Chris Gerber (Part 1)

Meet Our Summer Intern: Chris Gerber (Part 1)

 

Where do the church’s teachers and preachers come from? They come from Paul’s words to Timothy, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Tim. 2:2). In that simple command, Paul summed up the strategy for the propagation of the gospel from Ephesus to Greenville.

With this in mind, meet Chris Gerber, our summer intern. This isn’t a paid or terribly high-profile internship. But it is a deep internship. Chris will be learning from books, and teams, and leading in a few key ways in the Word and in prayer. You can read about the shape of the internship here.

Our purpose in this internship is to see churches led by pastors who faithfully connect the Bible’s theology of the church to the church’s worship, life, and mission. In other words, to see churches flourish in the gospel and gospel work. Pray that Chris would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead.

You need to get to know Chris, so here’s Part 1 of a two-part interview.

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You’re not from Greenville originally. What places have you lived and how did you get to Greenville?

I’m from Lancaster, PA. I was born in Hershey but spent most of my life in Lancaster. I went to Greenville for college at Bob Jones University in 2004 and have been here ever since.

You’ve been at Heritage for how many years now? Why did you stay at Heritage after visiting, and what has God done in you during that time?

I believe at the end of this summer we will have been at Heritage for 8 years. I remember this well because two weeks at the most into visiting, our apartment complex caught fire and we needed to move out immediately. We were able to save most of our belongings because we only had smoke and water damage. Thankfully the fire did not reach our unit. Our new friends at Heritage stepped up to help us. We had folks give us money that we had never met before. We had people help us move. Needless to say we were impacted by the love we felt from Heritage. God’s love for us was on full display. We kept coming back because we knew that much was made of Jesus at this place. I think a lot of what God has done for me has revolved around growing through the faithful preaching and then applying that knowledge in Shepherding Groups.

Let’s back up and learn about your conversion. How did God save you?

I am not actually sure when I was converted. It could have been as a child when I prayed for forgiveness from my sins. However, I believe most likely I was saved as a teenager. At a prophecy conference my church was having, I remember being struck by the fact that I did not know if I was ready to meet God. Previous to the conference, I struggled with assurance of my salvation. It seems that I did not fully know the grace of God. I was trying to add my own works, to get myself worthy enough to be saved by God. That night I sought counsel from my pastor. He showed me that I could add nothing to what had been done for me. There I bowed in submission to the Lordship of Jesus and accepted his grace by faith.

You desire to serve vocationally as a pastor. How did God grow that desire in you?

The pastor that led me to the Lord took an interest in me and we began to meet together. I was discipled by him and he began to show me how to study the Bible. It was here that an interest in the pastoral ministry began to grow in me.

You’re pursuing a degree. What degree and why?

I am about to finish a Master of Divinity. It seemed like a good degree to achieve for pastoral ministry. While I have much still to learn, I believe this has been a good foundation for learning how to study the Bible and rightly handle the Word of God.

Tell us about Jen! How does she complement and strengthen you as a husband?

Jen is the best! We just celebrated our 10th anniversary this week. Everywhere I am weak she is so helpful in shoring up that weakness. She has been most helpful in the raising of our daughter Julia. I remember having extreme anxiety about the future with a new baby, and Jen did a stellar job keeping life going for us when I was struggling emotionally. She is super talented. I love seeing her lead us in congregational singing through her skill with the violin on Sunday mornings.

So, you’re an intern for the Summer. What does that even mean?

I will be learning and leading: I’ll be learning by reading and writing on about a dozen books, chosen for how they connect our theology to ministry practice. These books will also help me understand some of the thinking behind our own ministry here at Heritage. I will also be learning about pastoral ministry by observing staff meetings, elder meetings, and shadowing on Sunday morning. In terms of leading, I will be leading through various public opportunities such as evening prayer and electives during the summer.

Introducing Dan Cruver, our Director of College Ministries (Part 2)

Introducing Dan Cruver, our Director of College Ministries (Part 2)

Two weeks ago we got acquainted a bit with Dan Cruver, an old friend to Heritage and our new Director of College Ministries. Part 1 gave us a basic introduction; read on for some helpful influences and curiosities about our new partner in ministry.

We left off on the topic of ministry to college students, so let’s pick up there. How can we be praying for Heritage’s ministry to college students in this coming semester?

Specifically pray that each of them would grow to know and enjoy the love of God in Christ more deeply through our corporate body.

We’ve been blessed with many college students who call Heritage home for a season. How can our broader church steward our position in a region with so many universities?

The college years represent a season of life in which young people are largely separated from all the influences which have shaped and formed them up until now. Whether they have grown up in a Christian home or not, college students find themselves within a time of change where different areas of study are explored and new ways of thinking and living are considered. The internal and external pressures students face in these years are significant and far-reaching. Separated from home, each student is seeking to establish his own identity and place in this world, formulating beliefs, relationships, and patterns of living that will determine, in large measure, the trajectory of the rest of his or her life.

A university-rich city like ours provides the church with the strategic opportunity to move into this life-changing season of life in order to equip students with a biblical view of God, the church, and the world. Since it is the church that God has commissioned with the responsibility to hold forth the Gospel and its solution to the world’s problems, the church must be there for students during this critically important season of life. If we faithfully steward our God-given position in this region with so many universities, we will further advance God’s kingdom in the world as students leave to pursue their particular vocations.

What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?

If I had to pick just one, it would probably be the book of Hebrews, if only because of its unrelenting focus upon the high priestly ministry and intercession of Jesus. In life’s hardest seasons, I find myself running to the books of Hebrews and the Psalms (Hebrews quotes the Psalter throughout); and when I run to the Psalms, I see Jesus as the one through whom the songs, prayers, cries, and praises of the various psalmists are sanctified unto me in my deep distress.

What three books have had the most impact on your life, besides the Bible?

Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, by Graeme Goldsworthy

Paul: An Outline of His Theology, by Herman Ridderbos

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Tell us about the most influential sermon you’ve heard.

It was a sermon on the baptism and temptation of Jesus (Matt. 3-4) by Dr. Michael P.V. Barrett, and I listened to it via a cassette tape (remember those??) back in 1996. I can still remember how I felt when I heard Barrett say, “Jesus not only died in your place, he also believed in your place” (i.e., Jesus defeated the devil’s temptations by believing God’s Word for us and in our place). Barrett’s stress upon the vicarious faith of Jesus in that sermon is why it’s the most influential sermon I’ve ever heard. Since I grew up doubting whether or not my faith was genuine enough or sincere enough, in that one sentence, Jesus became exponentially bigger in my eyes than he ever was before. It’s almost as if I felt my doubts fall off my shoulders as I heard Barrett speak those words.

How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies?

I enjoy basketball, and since my two boys enjoy it as well, I love shooting hoops with them in our cul-de-sac. If you hang around at our home for any length of time, you may see me stop anywhere in our home and perform a pull-up jumper, without having anything in my hands, I might add! Having been born in Indiana, basketball’s in my blood.

Another one of my hobbies is all-things J.R.R. Tolkien. Unbelievably, 9 years ago I was the one person out of the 7 billion on earth to see if @JRRTolkien was available on Twitter. It was, so I grabbed it. I use my @JRRTolkien Twitter account to post quotations from all of his writings. I’ve always tried to use that Twitter account as curator of joy and goodness, which is hard to find on social media these days. With over 117,000 followers, I view my Tolkien hobby as an opportunity to be a steward of redemptive-themes in our fallen world.

Okay, now a few left fielders: What is the dumbest thing you did as a kid?

Talking two other kids into seeing if it really was possible to “knock someone out.” My working hypothesis was if you hit someone over the head with a two-by-four, you would knock them out (i.e., go to sleep) without them feeling any pain. Of course, I was able to talk those two kids into being the active participants as I was the scientific observer. Needless to say, it didn’t work. The kid who received the two-by-four to the back of the head did not “go to sleep,” he did feel a lot of pain, and I learned soon after that what I talked those two kids into doing was extremely dumb and terribly dangerous!

Any odd talents that we should know about up front?

I can walk like a zombie.

Oh, going back to basketball, I can also (or at least I could) make three-quarter court shots while lying on my back. I once made three of those shots in a row to win several pizzas.

What’s your favorite animal, and why?

Grasshoppers are my favorite in the animal kingdom. They’re a great source of protein.

Let’s not end on that note. How can we pray for you specifically, and for your family?

As we continue to transition into the Heritage family, please pray that we “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints [here at Heritage] what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18-19).

Introducing Dan Cruver, our Director of College Ministries (Part 1)

Introducing Dan Cruver, our Director of College Ministries (Part 1)

To the church at Philippi, Paul wrote, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:3–5).

Partnerships change over time. Here at Heritage we’ve received and sent missionaries, and we’ve trained and launched pastors to lead churches. Over a stretch of forty years, it adds up. Sometimes, we get to receive a partner back for ministry right here.

We’re all pleased to welcome Dan Cruver back to Heritage as our Director of College Ministries, along with his wife, Melissa, and Hannah, Isaiah, and Noah.

To some, the Cruvers are seasoned friends, and to others new faces altogether.

To help all of us warmly welcome this family into our church family once again, here’s the first of a two-part interview with Dan. Enjoy!

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First things first, tell us how Melissa and the kids are doing?

Melissa is entering her twelfth year of teaching in the education department at North Greenville University (and she loves it there). Hannah is a senior marketing major at NGU and is already thinking about what’s next after college. Isaiah is entering his junior year and Noah his freshman year at Travelers Rest High School.

Melissa and I were married at Heritage in 1992. Pastor Jim Conley did our pre-marital counseling and officiated our wedding. And Heritage was the first church that Hannah, Isaiah, and Noah were a part of. So, in a very real sense (especially for Melissa and me), coming back to Heritage feels like a return home. There will certainly be an adjustment period for our kids, but they’ve all been loved on by HBC already. We’re grateful to be back with the HBC family.

You and the family are new to Heritage, but not really new at all. What’s the backstory on your relationship to our church?

Melissa and I met at Heritage in June of 1991 through what was then called the College & Career Ministry. We began dating in July, got engaged in December, and were married in April. So, Heritage played a verysignificant role from the very first time I entered its doors. In the summer of 1992, just a couple months after our wedding, Melissa and I became youth sponsors under the ministry of Danny Brooks. We served as youth sponsors for the two years I was in graduate school.

After teaching high school Bible for seven years, the Lord led us back to Heritage to serve as Pastor of Youth and Families. I served in that capacity for three years, after which the Lord provided me with the opportunity to teach in the Bible department of Clarks Summit University. During all these years, Melissa’s parents, Joe and Marilyn Elmer, were (and continue to be) members of Heritage. So, in a sense, Heritage was always a part of us.

Let’s back up and learn about your conversion. How did God save you?

I really do not know when I first believed. God was very gracious to put me in a Christian home where the gospel was regularly presented to me from as early as I can remember. Although I do not know exactly when I was born again, I do remember a number of times when the light of the gospel shined into my heart in such a way that it “felt” like a conversion each time. What I do know is that by God’s grace alone my hope is in Jesus, whose vicarious life, death, and resurrection have secured my eternal salvation.

You were pastoring here but then not pastoring. What happened in the years since? Specifically, tell us about Together for Adoption.

For the last 11 years, I’ve led Together for Adoption, which is a non-profit that exists to provide theological resources for the evangelical orphan care, foster care, and adoption movement. The primary mechanism for providing those resources has been our annual Together for Adoption National Conference, which brings together speakers who have theological expertise and speakers with expertise in some aspect of orphan care, foster care, adoption, orphan prevention, and family reunification. In addition to the annual conference, we’ve held regional conferences in the U.S. as well as several international conferences (Australia, Haiti, South Africa, Ethiopia, Canada, and Nicaragua). Together for Adoption’s conferences have served anywhere from 175 people to 1,000, depending on the year. (By the way, Heritage’s youth ministry volunteered at our first ever conference. Abe Stratton, who was the youth pastor back then, and everyone who volunteered were a huge help in getting our first conference off the ground.)

We also put together a print resource entitled, Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father, which was published by Cruciform Press in 2011. The book has since been translated into Portuguese and Amharic (Ethiopia).

Tell us a bit about you and Melissa. How did you meet and how long have you been married? Then tell us about how you complement and strengthen one another.

Melissa and I first met at Larry Lemon’s home. It was a Sunday evening college and career gathering. She and I probably talked a good hour or so. I was immediately smitten. We’ve now been married for 26 years.

As far as how we complement and strengthen one another, I’m more introvert than extrovert, and Melissa’s more extrovert than introvert. So, I really benefit from Melissa’s strength in social settings, and she benefits from my strength of internal processing. Together, we draw each other into experiences to which as individuals we are not naturally inclined.

Melissa works over at North Greenville University. What is her job there?

Melissa has an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instructional Development and has taught in NGU’s College of Education for 11 years now. She’s a very gifted educator and well-loved by NGU students.

You have a beautiful family. Tell us a bit about each of your children.

Hannah is our oldest. She’s 21 and a senior marketing major at North Greenville University. In God’s kind providence, as an 8-year old, she got to know Sally Lloyd-Jones (author of The Jesus Storybook Bible) via email. Hannah would write really creative short stories, email them to Sally, and Sally would provide wonderful feedback. Sally quickly recognized Hannah’s creative writing ability and was very kind to help nurture and develop it. Hannah’s now taking that love of good storytelling to the world of marketing. We’re very eager to see how God uses her love of storytelling in the years to come.

Isaiah is a rising junior in high school. Unlike I was at his age, he’s both a good athlete and a good student. Like me, Isaiah is also a basketball junkie. We are both big fans of the Warriors’ Steph Curry and his shooting genius. Isaiah hopes to play basketball for the varsity team at Travelers Rest High School this year. Also, if you ever find yourself eating at Sidewall Pizza in Travelers Rest on a Saturday, make sure you say “hi” to him. Isaiah has been a faithful server there for a couple of years now.

Noah will be a freshman at Travelers Rest High this year. He’s played tenor saxophone for the past 3 years at Northwest Middle and plans on playing in TR’s band this year. Noah is also an excellent student and loves basketball. So, his goal this coming school year is to play both freshmen basketball and the saxophone in his first year of high school. And, if you ever have any questions about Marvel or DC Comics, make Noah your go-to guy. Noah has forgotten more about that area of knowledge than I have ever known.

You’ve called Travelers Rest home for a number of years, and I know you’re there intentionally. Tell us about that.

When we moved to Travelers Rest in 2007, our hope and goal, if the Lord allowed, was to live in the home we just purchased for the next 30-50 years. And from the start, we were committed to living our Christian faith “in the open” before our neighbors in how we conducted ourselves and interacted with them. We would look for gospel-conversations and enter into them if at all possible. But we also had (and have) a long-haul perspective. If we live in the same house across multiple decades and our neighbors see our lives lived Christianly before them, there will come a day when they face trial and heartache and, Lord willing, will ask us a reason for the hope that lies within us. That continues to be our mindset, even though Heritage is now our church family.

Also, in an effort to become more involved in the daily life of residents of Travelers Rest, I earned my certification as a personal trainer and began working part-time at the YMCA in TR two years ago.

I hear you have some history with a number of the College Ministry sponsors. Give us the bullet-point summary of those intersections.

  • Greg and Cynthia Fox. We served with them as youth sponsors from 1992 to 1994. We’re all exactly the same now as we were then, except for the gray hair and aching joints.
  • Lee and Annette Hendsbee. When I was Pastor of Youth and Families at Heritage in the early 2000s, the Hendsbees led Sigma. So, we had the privilege of serving HBC’s youth together with them. We loved the Hendsbees back then like everyone at Heritage does now.
  • Lewis and Sarah Carl. I taught Sarah at Bob Jones Academy when she was a freshman and junior. Sarah’s most vivid memory of me is (supposedly) beating me at foosball on her senior trip at the WILDS. And Lewis was a college roommate with one of my all-time best friends.
  • Caleb and Lynelle McQuaid. As with Greg and Cynthia Fox, we served with Caleb’s parents as youth sponsors from 1992 to 1994. And, as a result, were there to see Caleb take his first steps, literally.
  • Carolyn Sandy. Carolyn was in the youth group when I served as Heritage’s youth pastor back in the “olden days.” Now that I’m Director of College Ministries, Carolyn has to put up with me again.
  • Allen and Karen Vaillencourt. Allen and my youngest brother, Dave, were in each other’s weddings, and I officiated Dave’s. As a result, Allen may or may not have any embarrassing stories about something that happened to me as I officiated my brother’s wedding ceremony.
  • Dave and Katie Gerdt. So, since we are just now intersecting with the Gerdts, they do not know what they are in for!

Okay, one last question: what excites you the most about ministry to college students?

They are in that season of life where they are making some of the biggest decisions they will ever make. It’s also a season in which they wrestle with some of life’s most important issues. So, I’m excited to walk alongside them and speak God’s Good News into those decisions and issues.

Meet our Summer Intern: Mark Centers (Part 2)

Meet our Summer Intern: Mark Centers (Part 2)

Two weeks ago we got acquainted a bit with Mark Centers, our intern for the summer. Click here for Part 1of this two-part blog post. We’ll finish up here with a few questions.

What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?

A combo: Leviticus and Hebrews. They both succinctly encapsulate the majesty of God, mankind’s dilemma, and God’s plan to make a people for his name.

What book has had the most impact on your life, besides the Bible?

The Messianic Hope by Michael Rydelnik. It made my heart burn for Jesus in the OT, and I’ve read it or referenced it every year since 2010.

Share with us a reason to give praise to Christ from your study in Hebrews.

The author of Hebrews rarely uses Jesus’ divinity to argue that Jesus is better. So in chapter one, the author climaxes his argument that Jesus is better than the angels by quoting Psalm 110 and proving that Jesus, as a human, has achieved something that no other human has or ever will achieve: a place at the right hand of God.

Tell us about the most influential sermon you’ve heard?

D.A. Carson’s sermons on Revelation 4 and 5 exposed my heart to the grandeur of God, His unapproachable nature, and the high priestly work of Jesus, who represents me before the throne.

How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies?

Read books. Play guitar. Play games. Shoot stuff with my bow and arrow.

Okay, now a few left fielders: What is the dumbest thing you did as a kid?

Wow. What to choose? One time as a kid my dad caught me smoking, and I told him that I had found that cigarette—fully lit—in the middle of the woods. That would be the most irrational, impossible thing I have ever done. By the way, I quickly gave up smoking, as it was not very compatible with my asthma. Again, not very smart.

Any odd talents that we should know about up front?

I have a knack for dropping trees in just the right spot.

What’s your favorite animal, and why?

Leviathan. Because it’s an underwater dragon. How cool is that.