My parents adopted me when I was one day old, and took me to church soon thereafter. The joke around my church was that baby Robert was passed around the service more than the offering plate. My church was small, but it was filled with men and women who truly loved Jesus and invested deeply in me. My parents are both believers who did their best to teach me the gospel and make church a priority in our family's life. I can hardly remember a month when we weren't in church three times a week. We spent a lot of time at church, and this came at a cost—yet, I have no regrets. Jesus saved me at 8 years old in Midway Baptist Church in Pickens, SC during vacation bible school. Our lesson that day was John 13, the story of Jesus washing the disciple's feet. My teacher decided to wash all of our feet that day to illustrate the great sacrifice Jesus makes to wash us clean of sin. I was later baptized in the same church. My formative years were spent sitting under the teaching of men and women who worked as mechanics, teachers, stay at home moms and utility workers. They cared deeply for me and worked hard to teach me the bible. Their faithfulness laid the groundwork of salvation and my eventual calling to ministry. These men and women prepared me well for the opportunity to sit under some incredible biblical scholars at NGU and later at The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The gospel I had learned as a child took on a new meaning for me when I started college at North Greenville University. At NGU I was introduced to the idea that the Bible is one story, often referred to as the “grand narrative.” This idea fundamentally changed my understanding of the gospel and God's work in the world. I look back on it as a seminal moment in my life as a follower of Jesus. Later at SEBTS, I saw firsthand what a healthy church looks like. God’s people can accomplish incredible things in the world when the Bible's teachings about the church are taken seriously. I have been at CFNW since the beginning. Not long after graduating seminary, God made it clear to my wife, Julie, and I that he was calling us back to SC to plant a church. In 2013, we were connected with what is now Christ Fellowship Cherrydale to complete a 2-year residency program that would culminate in being sent to plant a church in the Blue Ridge area. Since being sent out,think I have served in almost every position we have with the exception of the band. You should thank God for this. Currently, I am the teaching pastor and oversee member care and guest services. My family and I attend the Webster Missional Community and love those men and women like family. Christ Fellowship has served us in more ways that the word count will allow. This body has given me my first shot at pastoring, a sacrifice for which I'm convinced they all deserve a crown in heaven. They have put up with my preaching, sacrificed to support my family financially, invested in my boys, and humbly followed my and the other pastor's leadership. For those things and so much more, I am forever grateful.
Growing up, my family and I attended a traditional Southern Baptist Church where we held 3 church services a week. Our church had a choir, we enjoyed potluck gatherings, there was a cemetery in the back, and you could find my family’s home right next door - the church parsonage. I was raised as a pastor’s kid and from a young age I heard and read stories about God and many other bible characters often. I learned about sin, heaven, hell, and Christ’s forgiveness in Sunday school, at VBS, and in many other church services. At the young age of 6, I made a profession of faith in Jesus and was baptized. At the time, I couldn’t verbalize the reason why I needed to make this profession and I certainly did not yet understand the depths of my sin or God’s immeasurable grace until much later in life. The local church was always directly tied to my everyday life. Many of my friends attended the same church as my family and I found myself spending a large amount of time there with them. Although I made a public profession of faith at the age of 6, my faith was not genuine. I spent the next 10 years immersed in church without ever truly experiencing God for myself. I was seemingly righteous on the outside but spiritually dead on the inside. At the age of 16, God confront me in my sin while I was reading my bible one night. God’s conviction settled on me and years of gospel work on my heart clicked into place. I began to feel a call to ministry that continuously became clearer as I spent time working in various churches. After graduating from high school, I decided to pursue a Christians studies degree at North Greenville University. During my time there, God began to challenge and stretch my understanding of himself. My view of God expanded and my studies at school encouraged me to begin reading my bible differently. I was given opportunities to serve at several different churches during my time as a student at NGU. Many of these churches varied in size and health, however, they each gave me a greater appreciation for what worshipping God should look like. I found a love for orderly and liturgical approaches to worship, and God has continued to deepen this passion over time. While talking to a friend at college, I found that we shared a very similar childhood salvation experience. Neither one of us had taken the steps to be baptized as true born-again believers and we both began to feel convicted about that as we had been serving in a local church. We were later baptized together and are both serving faithfully in our local churches today. After God made the call of pastoral ministry and church planting clear to me, my wife and I began to seek out a new church that could invest their time equipping me for these skills. We soon became connected with CFNW and became members in January of 2018. Over the years, my role here at CFNW has evolved and grown. I am now an elder and serve in a wide variety of ways. The past 5 years at CFNW have been some of my most joyful and fruitful times in ministry. I have learned so much, been strengthened, encouraged, and have built deep and lasting relationships with many of our members. The fellowship, accountability, and unity that we have experienced here has made Ashlyn and I both so thankful for CFNW. I am thankful for our church’s missional heart to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, both by way of church planting here in Greenville, and around the world through our missional partners. I eagerly await what God will do next through the family of CFNW in the days ahead.
Raised in a devout Catholic family, I was taught about the trinity, the sufficient sacrifice of Jesus, and the need for sinners to repent. I knew that I was a sinner, that God sent Jesus to die for my sins and that Jesus rose to defeat death, but these truthsdid not sink in until the full message of gospel was shared with me in my late twenties. When I was 26 and dating Mike, three men from a church he and I had visited came to our apartment and shared scriptures that challenged my beliefs about salvation. I had then hoped to be good enough to please God and enter into his kingdom. I learned that Jesus’ sacrifice covered all my sins, those past, present, and future. I also learned that I contributed nothing to this salvation because it was God’s perfect gift. Since the men were less than gentle and did not resolve their delivery of the gospel message, I was left crying and upset after their visit. But God used the men to stir my heart and the conversation continued between Mike and me in the apartment. Mike had been raised in the church and knew Scripture very well but had not yet become a believer. The Holy Spirit used Mike and his biblical knowledge to clarify the gospel message. My eyes were opened to the fact that I had nothing to bring to the cross, and it was only Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection that would save me. My heart was changed from one striving to one repenting and desiring to follow the Lord with all my life. After that, I moved out of the apartment Mike and I shared, and the Lord provided all the finances for me to do so until we were married. I was soon baptized at our church in Maryland. I began attending CFNW about three and a half years ago. Mike and I joined because we believed CFNW was a church that taught the scriptures rightly and we felt called and gifted to help with the efforts of the church plant. I currently serve with my husband as Missional Community leaders and help with kids in the nursery. CFNW has served me in deepening my knowledge of biblical truths about God. I am thankful to walk alongside other believers who will wrestle with sometimes-hard truths and bear with one another in love. I am grateful for friendships that are grounded in Christ.