I serve as the lead pastor of Visalia First. My wife, Karen and I both work for the church. We have no children.
How did you end up here in Visalia?
I was serving as Vice President at Southwestern University just outside of Dallas. I am a part of the Assemblies of God denomination, and my predecessor had just resigned at Visalia First and became the Assistant Superintendent of the Southern California Assemblies. The pastoral search committee had to locate a pastor. A friend of ours had a dream that we would be a good fit for Visalia. She told her husband, her husband told the church, and here we are. Visalia First took a risk on me — I have more twang than I can explain. It sort of seems odd that a fellow with so much twang could pastor in California.
How did you get your start in this line of work?
I was born again at 19. I never saw myself in this line of work. My mom often said, “You are supposed to be a preacher.” I thought she was crazy. The only preachers I knew were broke and I was too acquainted with being poor that I did not aspire to be a pastor. I went to a Bible college to get a degree in business when someone asked me to speak at a little church in Maypearl, Texas. I shared that day and a couple of people were born again. It was then that I realized I was supposed to preach.
Why are you passionate about your work?
I made a very good sinner. Having grown up in a small town with nothing to do, I found plenty to do but it mostly consisted of living on the “dark side” of life. When I was 19 a lady said I needed God and invited me to church. She tricked me by telling me there were a lot of ladies at the church. So I went. That was the day I was marvelously born-again and filled with Holy Spirit. I had never felt such freedom. It was as if a 500-pound weight was lifted off my back. For the first time, I did not want to go back doing the same old thing I was doing. That night, four major habits left my life.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
We always have more vision than we have money. God made us that way. Vision is like having a gallon of water on only an eight-ounce cup to pour it in. There is never enough capacity for the vision that God gives us. We set out to build a new 3,000-seat auditorium. We started when we did not have enough money and we are now months away from completing it and we still don’t have enough money. This project has definitely enlarged our capacity. At the end of the day, money is always attracted to vision. We now have our eyes focused on taking our present worship center and turning it into a wonderful children’s building. Again, more vision than provision.
If you had to choose another career, what would it be?
I would love to have Anthony Bourdain’s job. Or, I have always wanted to be a comedian. I have written two joke books.
Tell us a little about life outside of work:
I love movies and the NBA. I confessed to a counselor last year that I think I am possessed with a sports demon — I can’t get enough of ESPN. Also, I have visited 30 countries and would like to double that over the next decade. I love studying other cultures.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I have been using the same shampoo since I was 17. A friend of mine was a hairdresser and convinced me that it was the best PH-balanced shampoo, and I have never found one that works any better for me. I buy it by the gallon.
What about Visalia makes this a good community to live and work in?
Karen and I have never met a more congenial people. And being from the south, we know what good hospitality looks like. I think because so many people from the south moved here during the Great Depression, it gave this valley a feel of southern hospitality. We love the Central Valley — they are our kind of people.
Just for fun, if you were stranded on an island, what three objects would you take with you?
I would take my wife. She has always been my best friend, and if a man is on an island he is going to need some fellowship. She is the best fellowship I have ever found — that is why we married. I would take a hand axe (we could build a hut with it and use it to prepare food), and I would take a cigarette lighter to build a big fire. I can’t stand cold weather.