At 8 years old, I stood in the lobby of Sharon Baptist Church in Cumming, Georgia in my suit and tie and I told the Associate Pastor I was going to be in the ministry one day. My dad was the Pastor there for 22 years and it was like my second home. All that I knew was church and for years I believed in Christ, but only because that was what I was taught. When I was 16 years old, my dad was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, and it turned the world upside down for me and my 4 siblings. Our lives completely changed in an instant. Four years and many complications later, it got worse and the doctors gave my dad seven days to live. He preached his own funeral, and they sent him home to die. (Morbid, I know… Hold on, it gets better.)
During the same time that my father was sick, a friend of our family was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. She was 11 years old. Her father was a Pastor and a good friend of our family. After seeing what my dad had gone through I thought to myself, “Why would God allow this little girl to go through something so terrible?”. After many complications and rounds of chemotherapy, the doctors told her family there was nothing more they could do. The Make-A-Wish Foundation sent her with her family to Disney World, then sent her home to say goodbye to her family and friends, although, she did not know that is what was going on at the time. It was a scary time for both our families as we faced the same challenges and fears.
Now years later, my dad is still alive! He is cancer-free and if you come join us on a Sunday at church you will hear him shouting me down in the back! The little girl’s name I mentioned is “Amanda” and she is now my wife. Amanda and my dad are both walking miracles. Despite a few detours and many hopeless nights, God has taught me how to trust Him. Through the trials and hard times, God has shown me to ask Him for the impossible and has personally shown me things and answered prayers that only He can get credit for.
In 2010, God began to tug at my heart. Having been in church my whole life, it struck me one Sunday, church leaders create church services to appease church people instead of creating services to reach the lost. In that moment, God began to work and gave Amanda and I both a burden to plant churches that will reach people far from God. A church where people receive hope along their journey, a place for people to belong and a home for those that don't have it all together (let's be honest none of us do). We believe if you are willing to struggle through it, God can use it and we will struggle through it together. It wasn’t until two years later that I knew it was time to activate our faith and not just preach but live "obedience creates opportunity". So, we did it. We stepped out in faith, knowing God would take care of all the details.
We launched ThreeLife Church with 13 people in a little cabin by a lake and to date we have seen hundreds come to know Him and thousands reached with the gospel. It has been amazing, but yet hasn't come without sacrifice or the attack of the enemy from all sides. Six months into our first year as a church my youngest brother committed suicide. He was one of the ones who inspired me to start ThreeLife and to this day keeps me passionate about reaching people and showing God's love and grace. I learned Justin's life may have been over, but his story had just begun and continues to impact people.
As we go forward with what God has called us to do, we realize that this is only the beginning. We are excited to see where He takes us next and how He unfolds the rest of “Our Story”.