I had the privilege of being raised in a home where the Bible was taught and lived out. Both my mom and my dad were committed to following Jesus and His Word. And they instilled that in both me and my brother. And so from an early age I heard the truths of the gospel; that God loves me, I am a sinner, and Jesus died for my sins. Along with the instruction of my parents and the teachers in my church, I knew that I was in need of a Savior. And at the age of seven years old, on a Sunday night at church, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit that I was a sinner and I needed and wanted Jesus to be my Savior. Did I understand then what I do now about salvation? Of course not. But I can remember that night very clearly and the prompting of the Spirit in my life to make a commitment to follow Jesus. And so the journey began. Because I was part of a Bible teaching church and a family that prioritized following Jesus, I began to grow in my new faith. And now today, some 46 years later, I am still learning and growing in my faith.
Member since 2006, wife Cheryl, children and spouses: Adam and Rochelle Chase; Sarah and Danny Lightner; James and Bethany Chase; Karen and Christian Buenos; Robin and Andrew Riggs.
I was in church quite often as a youth. My mother took me to the local Methodist church in town where I remember singing what seemed like 20 verses of Onward Christian Soldiers every Sunday. I also remember earning a Bible for memorizing the books of the Bible and once in another church I was chosen to pray before the congregation and thanked God for making all the animals, trees, and everything else that a young boy had on his mind.
I did not have much time for God in my teens; my time was taken up with sports and girls. But I feel that God had his hand on my life and kept me close even though life was tough in a broken home. A life with parents who were divorced and everyone going their separate ways, including me.
I went to college locally in Brunswick, Maine to a liberal, secular school with a bunch of spoiled kids that liked to party. I actually found myself defending Christianity in a religion course I took. Again, I felt that there was a God, He just was not that important with everything else going on in life. Cheryl and I were married in 1969 in a Catholic Church when we were both 19, and I still had 2 years to go in undergraduate school. We rarely went to church where the charging for seats did not sit well.
Married life got me out of the partying life. Cheryl worked diligently in a Standard Romper factory sewing baby clothes and did it well. God provided a house from a summer client of mine so that Cheryl was able to go to secretarial school in Portland.
A week after graduation we were in Boston where I was in master degree classes for accounting for non-accounting majors and Cheryl went to work at the First National Bank of Boston. We lived on the 51st floor of an apartment house on Commonwealth Avenue, which was quite a change for a couple from the woods of Maine.
One weekend was the start of Christ calling us. We checked out the churches in the newspaper and picked Ruggles Street Baptist Church as a good sounding place to go. From there we were invited to a Bible study outside Boston with some young people who were certainly different.
During a home visit to Maine in 1972 we endured impatiently Cheryl’s brother Valmore who had been saved through Campus Crusade for Christ. That night he came into where we were to sleep and gave us the Gospel and asked if we would like to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. Cheryl said yes immediately, but I think it took me a couple more days. All I know is that my life was changed that weekend. I no longer saw Val as someone to be avoided or refuted but rather as a brother, not just a brother-in- law.
We went back to Massachusetts a changed couple. We eventually moved from Boston, hunted for a good church, and landed at the First Baptist Church of North Reading. We were both baptized by immersion and went before the elders for membership.
Life has been good. Our family started in North Reading, but continued to grow in NH. We adopted two little girls into our family of three other children in 1988. All five were in Christian School where Cheryl worked to keep them there. All five children grew to know the Lord as Savior and Lord and to serve Him. They have all gone on to graduate from Christian colleges and also to choose Christ following partners. They all continue to serve Him in their local churches. The Lord has blessed us with 13 grandchildren, including one who has yet to come into this world and one who is still to be adopted.
The Lord has blessed our marriage. I cannot remember one single time that Chery and I have ever had an open fight though there are probably some instances where I deserved a beating and did not even know it. The Lord has seen us through some financial struggles but I do not ever remember Cheryl and I not being in agreement. We pray together every week day morning that the Lord would not only keep us safe but that also he would use us.
Cheryl and I have been honored and blessed to serve in every church we have been part of especially at McGregor Baptist Church. We prayed when we moved from NH to here that our opportunities to serve would be increased. The 101, 201, and 301classes opened up doors to us that we are very grateful for.
God has blessed us at MBC in ways that we could not have imagined.
Being selected to serve and then to serve on the Finance Committee, the School Committee, and then the Deacon Board has blessed me greatly and has allowed me to make friends and to serve in so many ways. Cheryl, has been active as I have in special events but also through being a counter, a facilitator in Women’s’ Ministry, a counselor at the Food Pantry, a teacher in preschool, and VBS and also leading a home Bible study. We both serve in Life Group and I have had opportunities to teach in not only our Life Group but to serve as a substitute in other classes as well. Cheryl is known as the hugger in the family and is in much demand though I get my share.
We look forward to our Lord and Savior using us in whatever service He plans.
Member since 1996, wife Beverly, children and spouses: Krista and Matthew Hoffman; Steven and Gabrielle Chestnut; Jonathan and Sarah Chestnut; Corban Chestnut.
My wife and I had been married around 2 years. I was 22 and she was 20. We got married very young. I had no real understanding of how to be a husband and this was reflected in my marriage. Beverly worked for a doctor and one of the ladies in the office attended McGregor. We were invited to come hear a pastor by the name of Jim Holbrook. We attended the service and Jim Holbrook was not preaching and the lady who invited said we really have to come back again when he is preaching. We attended again and Jim was preaching. They gave an invitation and I did not go forward. The service was over and we were leaving and Jim was at the door shaking hands. As we got to the door, Jim looked at my wife who had tears in her eyes and asked if she wanted to talk. Heads nodded yes and we were led to his office. He soon joined us and went over the plan of salvation. When he asked if we wanted to pray my wife said yes and I said yes and we both prayed to receive Jesus as our Savior. We were baptized at McGregor and have attended and served as we have grown in our faith.
Member since 2011, wife Sherie, children and spouses: Jeff and Kris Broome; Alan Jr. and Paige Green.
I grew up being taken to church by my parents. At age seven, I responded to a sermon on Hell and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. The next Sunday I was baptized by immersion.
When I reached my later teen-age life I drifted away from the Lord, got married and for five years I did not go to church. Finally, through a book given to me by an unsaved friend (The Late Great Planet Earth), my wife and I decided to return to church and get busy serving God.
Over the next two years we got involved in the bus ministry, choir, and taught a middle school boys Sunday School class. We also began to attend a local Bible Institute.
In 1975 God called me into full-time ministry. I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan for three years, and then transferred to Bob Jones University to obtain by B.A. in Bible. After graduation, our family moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to establish a new church on the north side of town. We were there for nine years and oversaw a growing congregation that purchased land and built a building.
After resigning from that ministry, we have spent many years in Florida, pastoring in East Naples and working secular jobs. I continued my Bible education through correspondence from Andersonville Theological Seminary, being just once class short of obtaining a Master’s of Divinity.
It was during my pastorate of Berean Baptist Church in East Naples that I became connected with Word of Life. For two years I travelled to Recife, Brazil to teach in the Bible Institute. For the last five years I have been connected with Word of Life Hungary, teaching in the Bible Institute and leading short-term missions’ trips.
Member since 2002, wife Gail, sons: Philip and Kyle.
I was born in December, 1961, in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, the second of three sons of my mom and dad, both of whom had known the Lord since their own respective childhoods in Greenville S.C. They had moved to Florida in the late 1950’s.
My early childhood is blessedly unremarkable. I grew up in the same house, actually in Atlantic Beach, from the time I was brought home from the hospital until I was a fifth grader. It was in that house, in the fall of 1971, as a nine year old boy, that I came to faith in Christ. The Lord who loves me had truly stacked the deck. From my infancy, I had been taken to church every Sunday. I was a product of years of Sunday School and other church activities.
The night of my new birth, I was watching a Billy Graham crusade on television (from Dallas), when the reality of my own sin, and indeed sinfulness, crashed home to my heart. There in my den, I repented of my sin, and committed to follow Jesus.
I have never looked back.
Soon thereafter, I was baptized into the membership of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, where my membership briefly remained until, in February of 1972, we moved inland and slightly north to Callahan, Florida, where my parents and younger brother still live.
I have never doubted my salvation, and the Lord has been extravagantly gracious to me. As I progressed in my faith, even in my teenage years, I was given extraordinary opportunity to teach adult Sunday School and, at the age of 15, to begin serving on a Senior Pastor Search Team for what I now consider to be my home church. (By the way, the Pastor that we sought God for, Lynn Hyatt, has served that church in humility and grace for approaching 40 years – he is my truest elder brother in ministry).
And in the Fall of ’83, the Lord gave me the privilege of marrying the former Gail White, my first and only bride. Our two sons, Philip and Kyle, both of whom love the Lord, each other, their churches, and their parents, came along in May of 1988 and September of 1990.
I have had the joy of being lovingly mentored and discipled. I have made significant errors, only to see grace ultimately prevail. I have been greatly loved by the Lord Jesus. Today, in one of the greatest honors of my life, I am pleased to be under consideration to serve the Body of Christ at McGregor.
Member since 1994, wife Joy, children and spouses: Bruce Jackson (deceased); Denis and Brenda McNary; Rodney and Barbara Maidlow.
I was raised in a Christian home, with Godly parents. I regularly attended all church services as a young man. I was “saved” as a young man to “escape” hell! Even so, I strayed often and had to return to the altar to correct my rule infractions. (Backsliding) Finally, I was exposed by the Holy Spirit to a deeper, fuller understanding of what salvation really consisted of. I made Christ the Lord of my life, realizing that Jesus had paid the price for my salvation, through his life, death, and resurrection.
Member since 2002, wife Tamar, sons: Anthony and Carson.
I grew up in a very loving and stable family that took me to church almost every week. Even though I grew up attending church regularly, sadly, it was not until I was a teenager that I actually heard the Gospel. I had, of course, heard about Jesus and what he had done for me, but I was never challenged to respond in repentance to what He had done on my behalf. Thankfully that changed when I was thirteen. The previous school year was my older brother’s first year of college and as a freshman in college, God had saved him. So when he returned to live at home again with us that following summer, I knew something had changed about him. I inquired and he shared the bad news about me; that I was a sinner who had offended a Holy God and I was in need of rescue. In that conversation, I also heard the good news about what Jesus had done for sinners like me. With my brother’s encouragement, I turned from my sin that day and placed my faith in Jesus to save me.
My life has never been the same since that day. Early on in my walk with the Lord, my family and I changed churches and several leaders from that church were instrumental in encouraging my early growth as a Christian. I would eventually consider giving my vocational aspirations to the Lord and pursuing local church ministry as my life’s calling. Even though I have been at McGregor for 14 years, I have only served in two other churches prior to McGregor, with the first being the formative church during my early years as a believer.
I began a significant wrestling match with God in 2007, that lasted for several years and to some extent, still exists today. Long before ever having children, my wife and I watched her sister face the challenge of raising our nephew who lives with autism. So when we both began to see signs of that neurological condition in our youngest son’s life, it was a difficult pill to swallow. As I recently shared in a sermon at McGregor, I was frustrated, confused and angry with God when we realized our youngest son had autism. I was disappointed in God because when disability touches a child, something akin to death occurs. The death of the dream of a normal child that I could play soccer with, throw the ball to, and have conversations with about the Gospel.
Over the years that followed, God patiently and mercifully showed me so many things about me that were wrong, the rough things that needed to be chiseled away by His grace to more resemble Christ and reflect the glory of God. In my wrestling with God, I lost. Just like Jacob in Genesis 32, I lost. God prevailed and for His purposes, I now walk differently.
I never thought I would have a son with a disability, but I also never thought I would be at McGregor during such an important time of transition as we are in now. God is funny like that. I’m confident, though, that the Lord has healthier days ahead for our church. Just as our church has gone through a difficult few years, I believe God will cause us to walk differently as a congregation than we did before. I look forward to being part of a church that not only reflects the character of God, but exists for the glory of God.
Job 1:21, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh.”
Member since 2005, wife Jill, children and spouses: Joe and Jennifer Behun; Matthew and Staci Perkins; Andrew Perkins; Paul and Heidi Dakin.
I grew up with an awareness of God and had heard Bible stores when I was young. I tried to be a good person, and thought that if I did enough good things I would go to heaven.
I was married in August of 1969, and after our first child was born we decided that as a “good” family we should go to church, since that is what “good” people do. We attended for several years, even teaching Sunday School to small children, but not really understanding anything about a relationship with God. I had no idea, nor had the churches we attended taught us, about a personal relationship with Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins. We were going through the motions of empty ritual.
10 years later, in July of 1979, my wife and I were invited to attend a dinner meeting by a friend of ours. He had realized that I was trying to do a lot of “right” things, but had no concept of a personal God, or that I needed a Savior. We went with our friend to what he told me was a Full Gospel Business Men’s dinner. I knew that my friend attended a Pentecostal church, but I figured what could happen at a dinner meeting? Little did I know that my eternal destiny would become my dessert.
Following the dinner, a speaker began talking. He told us that he had been in prison and was released through faith in Jesus long before he was physically released from prison. Here was a man who had physically been a prisoner, but despite all we hear about prison life, had been set free from everything that had held him captive. He spoke about how he had released control of his life to Jesus and how he had asked Him to save him, even while in prison.
As he spoke, I was intrigued by what he said and wanted to know more about this Jesus he spoke about. While I was not physically in prison, I felt just as captive and desired the freedom he spoke about. I believe the Holy Spirit was working on my heart and inviting me to Himself. The speaker ended his presentation and asked all present to bow their heads as he prayed. He asked if there was anyone who wanted a personal relationship with Jesus and to give Him control of their life. That night I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and be my Lord and Savior.
My wife had accepted Jesus several months prior and had been praying for my salvation. She had asked the Lord earlier that day that I would come to accept Him at the dinner that night. I realized that our previous church involvement was empty and I began reading my Bible and we started attending a Bible teaching church where we could grow.
Since that time, I have continued to grow in my walk with Jesus and my desire to serve Him has grown. I have typical daily struggles but know that Jesus has saved me through His grace alone and not by any merit of my own. I deserve eternal punishment, but because of God’s love for me, He has determined to set this prisoner free and forgive my sins and accept me as His child. He can do the same for you… if you only ask Him to.
Member since 1985, wife Vicki, children and spouses: Joshua Robinson; John and Carissa Rodriguez; Kaylee Robinson.
My early spiritual nurturing came through my mom dropping me off at church for Sunday School, and she would make sure that I attended summer VBS. It was in these environments that I began to learn the lessons from the Bible and began to relate to some great people who really loved the Lord and represented him well. While my mom and dad were good hard working people who loved their kids, they were unengaged spiritually. So, having role models and people speaking into my life as a young boy, who came at things from a biblical perspective was really important.
When my older sister started driving, we started going to both Sunday School and worship. It was in one of those Sunday morning worship services that I really began to understand my lostness and my need for a Savior and His name was Jesus. At the invitation time, I went forward and spoke with one of our deacons, and he shared more about how I could receive Christ as my Savior, and he led me to pray to receive Christ that morning. I was 10 years old.
Shortly after that Sunday morning our Pastor came by the house to talk with my parents about me getting baptized. My dad, with all good intentions, said that I was too young to understand, and that they wanted me to wait until I was older. The next Sunday, I went forward in the service and told the Pastor that I really wanted to get baptized. My parents eventually agreed and I followed the Lord in baptism.
For a child who had a serious desire to please his parents, this act of “rebellion” really showed me how much salvation meant to me. It has helped me never to look back with doubt as to that early salvation experience.
Of course, like many, I had moments as a teen and young adult that I really had to process my salvation and what Christ meant to me at a more mature level. This process for me came to a real head when I was 17-18 years old. I felt like I had one foot in the world and one foot in the Church – I was struggling with being in the world but not of it. So, I made a decision, recommitting my life to following Jesus.
Shortly after that, the Lord called me into full-time Christian vocation, which is a whole story in and of itself.
Member since 1985, wife Candy, children and spouses: Patrick and Sarah Bell; Daniel and Jaclyn Schroeder; Kirk and Elizabeth Swope.
I was born in Birmingham, Alabama where I lived for 13 years. My mother was a Christian and felt it was important to take her three boys to church at Canterbury United Methodist Church. I found out later in life that dad was not a believer but was a great provider and wonderful dad. I was blessed to have two wonderful parents who would do anything for me and had a very stable and loving childhood. I had fond memories in Birmingham and learned that God was our Heavenly Father and Jesus was God’s Son at Church. I always believed that the Bible was the Word of God and truth, but didn’t read the Bible, did not know what it said, and did not know I had to do anything to be saved. I just had to be a good person. Only the bad people go to Hell. My older brother passed away at age 13 while in Alabama. The church did not support my parent’s grieving and actually drew us away from church. A few years later, my father was offered a job opportunity in Fort Myers so we moved.
I did attend church in Florida a few times with my family when we first moved to Fort Myers, but quickly faded away. Early in my employment career with Bank of America, I met my wife Candy at work. She was attending McGregor Baptist Church on McGregor Boulevard. I was actively involved in sailing & racing on the weekends, including Sundays. While dating, she told me that if I wanted to be with her on Sundays, I had to go to church with her, so I did. While in church, I heard Jim Holbrook preach from the Bible which was interesting and captivating, and heard that everyone is born with sin, the need to confess their sins, and trust only Jesus Christ for what He did on the cross to save us from our sins.
During that time, Sarah was born and I had the joy of witnessing her birth. I feel God used this miracle to draw me to Him to something much bigger in life. I have always enjoyed music & concerts, but not Christian music. However, I was drawn to the soloists and worship choir at McGregor that lifted the sensitivity of my sprit to the calling of God thru the Holy Spirit. Shortly thereafter, Jim Holbrook visited our home to walk us through what the Bible says on how to be saved. As stated before, I always felt that the Bible was God’s Word, but did not know what it said. Jim walked Candy and me through the “Road to Romans” Gospel Message and we prayed to receive Christ as our Lord and Savior that night in 1985. Shortly thereafter, Candy and I were baptized by Jim at McGregor. I remember leaving the church that evening and seeing a huge rainbow in the sky which touched my heart of God’s grace.
I had the sincere joy of giving my Testimony via video at the Christmas Program in 2015. My story is one I feel touches the heart of most today where people feel they are good people and automatically go to Heaven. My dad was saved at age 85 just before a massive stroke, who also believed that being a good person is all you needed. However, God softened his heart to hear the true way to salvation through only Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for us. I have the assurance that both mom and dad are in Heaven today. I found my older brother’s Bible in my parent’s home after they passed. In his Bible, he had hand written a message where he also prayed to receive Christ as His Lord and Savior prior to his passing at age 13. All of my children and their spouses are saved and serving the Lord through their ministries!