I became a Christian in 1965 as a direct result of the personal witness of John Wimber, who later became the leader of the Vineyard Movement. In our little Quaker church in Yorba Linda, coming to Christ meant committing to Christ, His Church and His Cause.
As a young boy, and then as a young man, I was a very active participant in the life of the church. For the most part, whenever the doors were open, I was there. From the time I was 11 years old until I was 22, I had experiences in ministry ranging from door to door witnessing, Jail team ministry, Sunday School teaching and everything in between. I even began substituting for John at some of his weekly Bible studies.
I was one of many who lived a life in which attendance and service in the church was the clearest indication of one's commitment to Christ. It was without a doubt a 'doing' church. The end result was that many of us ended up somewhat burnt out and feeling that there had to be more on a personal and intimate level with God.
In 1976 a very small group of us began meeting in my sister's home for 'worship' and prayer. We really wouldn't have called it worship and I'm not sure it would have qualified by today's definitions, but it worked for us at the time. Out of this meeting of desperation, which can be described as 'hunger for God', came what I believe was a real and sustained revival. It was earmarked by hunger for God and intimacy with Him. The small group grew rapidly and eventually was launched as a church under John Wimber's leadership. I was at his side, leading worship, which is now commonplace but was revolutionary at the time. We sang long sustained sets of songs, anywhere from 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted and very 'God directed' singing.
Over the next 20 years, what emerged was a church planting movement of churches at that time all taking the name 'Vineyard Christian Fellowship'. For such a small group, we had an inordinate influence on the church-at-large, especially in the areas of worship and the practical ministry of men and women under the leadership and gifting of the Holy Spirit. John Wimber's development of a 'naturally supernatural' model for ministry contrasted drastically with the platform ministry most evident on television. It took ministry off the platform and from one gifted individual and allowed everyone to paricapate in lending a hand to 'what the Father is doing'. In the area of worship, John allowed me incredible freedom to develop and grow, in a way I have neither heard of or seen to this day. From that emerged a model of seamless, passionate, personal worship, that certainly played a part in today's 'worship revival'.
From 1976 through most of 1983 I led worship, pastored and participated in all areas of ministry with the 'flagship church' in Yorba Linda, CA., which eventually landed in Anaheim, CA. From 1983 to 1990 I participated in the 'Vineyard' movement as a church planter and pastor to other pastors. I continued leading worship at overseas conferences and around the country, but locally I pastored the Vineyard in Santa Maria, CA. This was the most wonderful time of my life.
In 1990 I returned to assist John Wimber at Anaheim and was eventually appointed to succeed him as Senior Pastor at the Anaheim Vineyard in late 1994. 'Professionally' things actually went well, but the old nemesis, 'doing' without taking time to 'be', a Mary and Martha type of thing, took it's toll and in July of 1997 I resigned as Senior Pastor of the Anaheim Vineyard. My marriage was failing, my mental health was gone and I was spent beyond description. This was a very dark and difficult time which I won't go into on these pages at this time, needless to say it was devastating for all. NOTE: I will be happy to answer any questions you have, I just don't want to answer questions that aren't being asked. You can use the guest book or email to ask and I will respond.
At the end of this past year, at a point that I feel may have been the darkest and most difficult of my life, I believe the Lord embraced me in my 'nothingness'. There are several things I believe he spoke to me and then began confirming over and over again through various people and in various ways. I felt like first of all He confirmed to me his complete and unconditional love for me, something I was anything but sure of. Second, I believe that he made it very clear to me that 'the gifts and call' he had placed on my life as a little boy were still valid. In fact I felt he spoke to me, as best as I can understand these kind of things, that 'he had never disqualified me', that 'I had disqualified myself (I had embraced lies) and others had' but that he never had.
I was left to either accept this or reject it. I decided to accept it and move forward with my life, in spite of the devastation and brokenness. In the last several months, although life has been exceedingly challenging, I have felt a steady hand on my shoulder, the hand of God, guiding me and directing my steps forward. At this time I do not know what this is going to look like or be like in the future. I do know that the Lord has been opening up doors for me to minister in his name 'officially' and unofficially, basic marketplace stuff, and I feel encouraged to continue to move in that direction.
I will write on all of this in more detail as time passes, but I am sure of this, God is faithful and I know he has given me a heart for the broken and wounded. My level of compassion has increased as I have embraced my own brokenness and experienced the pain of being wounded. I know there are many who don't relate to some of this, but I know I don't relate to those who seem to have it all together and don't appear to really even need God to have a fulfilling life. I'm just not there, I am safest and most secure at the foot of the cross, aware of my need.