Can you share a little bit of your testimony?

I had the blessing of growing up in the church.  But I did not come to a saving faith until age 13 when I attended a Jr. High Youth Retreat with a Presbyterian Church in the woods of Eastern Kansas. As the youth director pointed to the glory and beauty of the cross, I understood the true weight and ugliness of my sin as well as the invitation to become an adopted son of our Heavenly Father.

With the message of the cross ringing in my ears, I repented of my sin and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.

The cross was magnified.   My joy was palpable.

The love relationship with the Trinity had begun.

What about your call into the ministry?

There was neither a sign in the sky nor an audible voice -- though I mistakenly thought that God owed me one or the other at age twenty!  Yet after consistent discipleship by various pastors and elders that God placed in my life, I surrendered my life to full-time Christian ministry during my college years. My home church played an instrumental role in my call to pastoral ministry:  I preached my first sermon at age 16 during a Youth Sunday, participated in various cross-cultural mission trips, and served as a Youth Ministry Intern for three summers in college as Godly men invested deeply into my life.

By God’s grace, my performance-driven life was radically transformed into a relational life – “life is relationship”. With the full support of my home church, I entered full-time Christian ministry eager to serve our relational God.  

What are the characteristics that you hope to bring to your pastoral leadership?  

These are five of the characteristics that define my own pastoral ministry:

      (1)   A sincere love for people. People experience me as warm, authentic, social, kind, and easy to relate to. I enjoy being around people, and I love helping people become the followers of Christ that God intended them to be.

      (2)   Passionate preacher. I endeavor to study deep and wide and then preach with my heart on my sleeve.

      (3)   Relational Integrity: What you see is what you get. I strive to be a pastor and leader whose public and private life is congruent.  I am committed to living the same Gospel-centered, Grace-saturated life whether I am visiting the hospital, preaching the good news, or leading teams. "Relational congruence” is the DNA that helps build a healthy organizational culture. 

      (4)   Energetic Administrator. Senior level leadership invariably requires a high degree of organization in the administration of people, resources, budgets, and programs. I hope to bring warmth and joy as well as a high level of energy to administrative tasks, motivating people through a combination of empathy, kindness, and attention to detail.

      (5)   Combination of deep spirituality with a fun-loving spirit. I think we often take ourselves too seriously and Christ not serious enough!

 Can you tell us about your motto?

My life motto is -- “My calling is to be a disciple and to make disciples of Jesus Christ through preaching, teaching, and living the Word of God.  No one can make disciples without first being a disciple.”  My prayer when I surrendered my life to full-time Christian ministry was simple: that my ministry, by God’s grace, might flow out of my own union with Christ and relationship with the Father. 

Fun Speed Round Q & A:

What are your sporting allegiances?

I am a die-hard Kansas Jayhawks basketball fan.  Danny Manning and the Miracles (1988) and Mario Chalmers’ clutch shot (2008) were championships that are routinely remembered with fondness! 

Any favorite foods?

My wife Lisa and I are polar opposites with respect to food. She insists that nachos are not, in fact, the fourth food group. (What?!) She prefers kale and quinoa (seriously?) while I pretty much could (okay...do) eat chips and salsa every day.  I love trying new kinds of Mexican salsas.

What about your “Bucket List”?

I’ve crossed off a few items from the ‘ole bucket list:

  • Visited Greece.
  • Completed a marathon.
  • Went on a Safari.  (Alas, only a one-day safari outside of Cape Town, South Africa after attending the Lausanne Congress of World Evangelization in 2010.)
  • Attended an Olympic Event (USA Women’s Soccer, London Olympics 2012 at Newcastle Stadium, England)

To name a few, I still want (1) to preach on every continent (Asia and Australia remain), (2) visit the places of the missionary travels of the apostle Paul, and (3) do a summer tour of MLB baseball stadiums in various cities with my sons.  

Tell us about your extended family.

I grew up with two loving and awesome parents: Steve & Sandra Carter who moved last year to the Kansas City area (from Wichita, Kansas) to be closer to my younger sister Stephanie, her husband Brian, and their two children who also live in the Kansas City area.  Lisa’s mother Linda, her younger brother Todd, and our two wonderful nephews all live outside the Providence, Rhode Island area where Lisa grew up.  Lisa’s father died shortly after we got married.

Any fun memories from Central Africa?

My son Kenyon had three little boys named after him in Equatorial Guinea!  My wife Lisa had two namesakes.  I was trailing in this department until January.  A family told me that they were going to name their daughter Lisa (if they had a girl) or their son Jason (if they had a boy).  Lisa almost went up 3-1 on me -- would I ever live this down?  Fortunately, the couple had a little boy, and now there is a second little Guineano boy named “Jason” in Equatorial Guinea.

We were also the owners for a couple years of a pet monkey named Mario. (Yes, named after Mario Chalmers!)  Fun memories.