Global Outreach Group
Where were you born and where do you live now?
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Famous for its nickname: “Music City.” If you’ve heard the expression “country music,” that’s where it began. I’ve lived in the state of Texas since 1988.
How did you become a Christian and did camp play a role in your spiritual development?
I trusted Christ at the age of six in my home. Mine was a Christian family. I attended camp every summer as a boy, and looking back I appreciate how instrumental it was in my spiritual development. At age 14 I was invited to serve as a camp counselor for the 6-year-old boys. I loved every minute of it, and returned for 6 summers. (I think the director kept inviting me back because he couldn’t find anybody else who actually wanted the 6-year-old-boys).
Tell us about your family.
Becky and I met in college through a campus ministry that I co-founded. We married in 1974. At our current church she is Youth Director, Young Children’s Ministry Director, Sr. high school Sunday School teacher, VBS Director (children’s Bible school during the summer), and gets our youth group to camp every year. Our oldest son, Michael (30), is a financial advisor, Bible teacher, and co-founded a men’s ministry called “IronCenturion.” His wife Melissa has her own ballet company. Our daughter, Sarah (27), serves on her church staff as women’s ministry director and is engaged to be married. She is a songwriter, musician, and performer; fluent in Russian, and in the Masters Degree program at Dallas Theological Seminary. Our youngest son, Ryken, is 17. We were privileged to adopt him from a Russian orphanage 15 years ago. He is an accomplished pianist, guitarist, and emerging poet.
What role(s) do you have in Christian camping? How have you been involved in
I resigned my career as a Park Ranger in 1978 to enter Christian camping full-time. Interestingly, the first camp where I was director was my old boyhood camp that had been so meaningful to me as a camper. Double memories. In 1980 we moved to the Smoky Mountains where I directed a new camp and retreat center for 8 years. During that time I also served as a Regional Representative for the CCI/USA Association, as well as on the Board of Directors. In 1988 I was offered a position at a camp in Texas where I served in a progression of positions: Conference Coordinator, Director of Operations, and Camp Director; I also started and oversaw the Environmental Education Program for public and private schools.
In 1994 God dramatically stirred my heart to serve internationally. I resigned my position as camp director, raised financial support, and our family joined a team of The Navigators by invitation and moved to Russia where we lived for a year and a half. There we had opportunity to travel extensively and learn how our camping experience could benefit the camping leaders in the Former Soviet Union. Alexander Kharitonov was a gracious host and welcomed me into his world. We teamed up together to train camping leaders.
Two years later I joined the staff of CCI/USA as Director of Russia Ministries, and gave oversight to the formal partnership between the two Associations. From there, Global Outreach Group was spun off as a separate organization and I was retained as Executive Director. That’s the position I still hold today. Our purpose is “Training Christian Youth Camp Leaders Worldwide.”
I also served on the Executive Committee of CCI’s International Forum back in the 1990’s. It was the precursor of what we now know as CCI/Worldwide, and I had the privilege of helping shape the transition to the model of CCI Worldwide that we have today. I’m currently a “Pioneer” for CCI/WW, and have traveled to 34 countries.
What do you do on your day off?
Hobbies or personal interests. On my what? (Just kidding). I enjoy motorcycling, travel, backpacking, whitewater canoeing, time with my family, and church ministry. I’ve started two churches over the years—not as pastor, but as leader. I currently chair the Board of Elders at my church, and enjoy teaching roles as opportunities arise. My oldest son and I conduct Father/Son “Warrior Weekends” at camps for dads and their sons from time to time. I launched a men’s motorcycle trip camping ministry which I led for a dozen years. I called it “Dead Men Riding,” based on Galatians 2:20. I play guitar and pretend to play the banjo.
Besides the Bible, what is your favorite book?
I never was good at answering that question. My favorite is usually the one I’m reading right now. As a teen, though, The Shadow of the Almighty taught me about single-minded passion and sacrifice. Daws: A Man Who Trusted God, showed me what God can do through a faithful servant. Raising a Modern-Day Knight guided me in leading my sons into authentic manhood. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters made me a better dad to my girl. (And of course all books by Dan Bolin).
What kind of music do you like?
Any favorite recording artists or song? Bluegrass, jazz, folk. Allison Krauss, Kenny G, Avett Brothers, John Denver, Liz Story, Peter, Paul, & Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, Emmylou Harris, James Taylor, Alan Jackson, Chet Atkins, Yo-Yo Ma, Sarah DeGroat. I like some contemporary Christian music, but not much. My favorite old hymn: “Be Thou My Vision.” Contemporary favorite, “In Christ Alone.”
What is your favorite Bible verse? Any story that tells us why?
Proverbs 3:1-6. This passage guided me as a boy, shaped me as a man, and raised the bar for being a dad. I also take it as my Heavenly Father’s counsel to me as His redeemed son.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Memorize Scripture! Not just isolated verses, but paragraphs and whole chapters. (My mother used to pay me to do that when I was a kid). The mightiest men have Truth-soaked hearts.
What else should we know about you?
I’m 63, been married 40 years. My hero as a teen was Jim Elliot. Before he was martyred he wrote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Oh to be a man like that . . .