Though I prayed to receive Christ at a young age, Jesus never meant much to me until a missions trip I went on with my youth group. Somehow, a friend persuaded me to go on a 400-mile bicycle trip from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Six flags in Chicago, Illinois. The purpose of the trip was to share the Gospel with people along the way. On the third day, Sunday, we took the day off after biking 60-70 miles a day for two days.
That night after a group devotional time, we sang the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” As I sat that on the back porch of the mission house hearing the words of the song I began to cry. God overwhelmed me in that moment and said “you have to be all in for me or not in at all.” At 16 years old, on July 4th, 2010, I decided to give myself over entirely to Him and asked Him to send me to the darkest places to bring the light of the Gospel. He sent me to Vermont!.
Michael (wearing shades) on the cycling mission trip, 2011
A few years later, I met my wife Katie at Word of life Bible Institute. After getting married December 7, 2013 we began praying about where God wanted me to attend school for ministry. Grand Rapids has a lot of Christian colleges, so I was not expecting to leave Michigan. However, a friend contacted me about a new school in Bennington, Vermont (the least churched state in the nation) called Northeastern Baptist College. We began praying about this opportunity and God answered. I was not only accepted, but given a full scholarship.
Our only problem was that we didn’t know where we were going to live when we moved to Vermont, or how we were going to pay for it. Then, Word of Life Ranch called and asked us to be on staff for the summer. Since the Ranch is only 2 hours from NEBC, we accepted. We packed everything we owned and moved it to a storage unit in Bennington, trusting that God would provide a home for us there when the summer was over. Just three weeks before the semester began at NEBC, God provided a place for us. I was accepted as the Residence Director at the student dorms, which includes free housing! And so it began.
I started as a full-time student, studying Church planting. At first Katie and I helped with the launch of a local church plant, before God opened different opportunities. In addition to being a full-time student and part-time staff member and Residence Director at NEBC, I am now also the Associate Pastor at a local church and am transitioning to become the lead Pastor.
Michael’s church, and his wife and son.
It has definitely been a challenge balancing my responsibilities. I have to make sure I am having sufficient family time while not falling behind on my assignments, and God has taught me how to manage my time more effectively. I usually come home from school or work, spend time with my family and then after dinner work on homework and papers. All day Saturday and most of Sunday is spent preparing for or doing ministry and squeezing in homework assignments as well. Through it all, God has challenged me in every area of my life. Most of all, I learned early on that I must rely on Gods strength to be sufficient for me.
Katie and I have a 13-month old boy, Samuel, and are expecting our second child, a daughter, around August 9th. At this crazy time in life, God has called us to move by August 1st to the town where I pastor—but He hasn’t yet revealed to us where we will be living or how we will make it on our budget. People ask us why we are moving at this point in our lives. We simply answer: “Should we not obey God just because we can’t see the outcome?” Being here has taught us that Christ will provide our needs for TODAY, and not to worry about tomorrow. We have trusted him time and time again, and God has been so faithful. We won’t stop trusting Him now!