I was born and raised in South Boston, Virginia, a small town in the south central part of Virginia.
My story begins when I was six months old. My paternal grandmother died, and an independent Baptist preacher told my father that if he wanted to see his mother again he needed to be saved. My parents were not Christians at the time, and their life reflected that, but the seed that was planted that day stayed with my dad.
My maternal grandfather passed away when I was thirteen, and for the first time I can remember he went to church, although in a casket. I remember thinking that the words the preacher spoke did not reflect the life of my grandfather, and I doubted he went to heaven. That day was the first time I gave serious consideration to eternity.
A year later we visited a local independent Baptist church where I heard a clear presentation of the Gospel for the first time. Several months later I realized my condition and my need for a Savior, and asked God to forgive me of my sins. My parents were saved as well and became active in the church.
I met my wife at the church. Neither of our parents had sufficient funds to allow us to go to college, so we decided to get married just out of high school. One day at the post office I filled out a recruiting post card concerning learning electronics in the navy. The recruiter started calling, and quite frankly to get him off my back, I agreed to visit him at his office. He asked me what I wanted to do in the navy, and I told him I wanted to fly jets. He replied that I needed to go to college to do that, and I told him to send me. That little comment lead to my applying for a Navy ROTC scholarship. My wife did not want me to do that since she is terrified of water. Once we received the scholarship, it was off to college and then a commission in the navy. Along the way, I found I preferred nuclear power training and service in submarines rather than flying airplanes (my wife was really terrified of me being under the water, but God gave her grace and peace).
I found I really enjoyed serving on submarines and had peace about staying in the navy. Our career took us up and down the East Coast of the United States, with a lot of time in Norfolk, Virginia. I served on 5 different submarines, culminating in command of USS SPADEFISH (SSN 668) home ported in Norfolk. We also served 2 years in Scotland, 2 in Japan, and 4 in Hawaii. My shore tours included serving as the commanding officer of the Submarine Training Center in Pearl Harbor and as deputy commander of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. I am experienced in operating a ship at sea, training a crew, understand the engineering of a ship, and the workings of a ship yard.
In the Fall of 2012, the Lord lead us to sell our house in north Raleigh, NC and move out of the city. He provided us an absolutely beautiful retirement home and lead us to a small country church, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Burlington, NC. Both of us became very involved in the church with me serving as a Sunday School teacher, deacon, and Sunday School director, and Mary serving in the nursery, Sunday School, and Master’s Club. Life was very good and we were content. Then in the summer of 2014, I started getting a feeling there was something else the Lord wanted me to do. I just starting asking Him to reveal His will to me and whatever it was I was ready to do…I just didn’t know what it was.
Todd and Pam Kuykendahl came to the church on deputation for The Mercy Project, and we spent many hours talking to them about the ship the GPAMM had purchased. My curiosity was keen. Then Dr. Tolbert Moore spoke during our Fall Jubilee, and he and I talked long into the night about the ship. The Lord gave me peace that this was what He wanted me to do, and He used Dr. Moore to open doors for us to serve on MERCY’S VESSEL. I came to realize the Lord gave me all those jobs in the navy to prepare me for service on MERCY’S VESSEL.
My wife and I are absolutely thrilled that the Lord is using us. We sincerely covet your prayers as we serve HIM.