I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin and grew up amidst cornfields with my four siblings. My father was a flooring contractor during my childhood, but lost his business in the early 80’s. Our family lived in poverty from the time I was 8 until I entered middle school. While the business was closing, our home was foreclosed on. Not long after, in 1985, we moved to get a fresh start in a suburb of Denver, Colorado.
Once in Colorado, Mom went to work for the first time and Dad restarted his business. The kids started newspaper routes to help out and we slowly began to climb into middle-class living.
Right before my senior year in high school, I dedicated my life to God and pursued vocational ministry. In college, I met the love of my life, Jennifer Darnell, a pastor’s daughter from Nashville, Tennessee. We married the month after graduation in 1996.
After finishing an undergrad degree in Bible, I became the youth pastor at the same church in which I grew up back in Colorado. I served there for 11 years as an assistant pastor working with students, children, young adults, those in addiction recovery, and in outreach. In 2006, I began feeling the call of God towards urban work.
In 2007, I resigned my position and was sent to plant a church in downtown Denver. In 2008, we started Providence Bible Church where I still serve on an elder team as the Elder of Teaching and Vision. We moved into the neighborhood and placed our four boys into the school two blocks from our house. This decision deeply impacted us as we saw the issues in urban public education up close and personal. More importantly, as part of the neighborhood, we began to feel the pain and the joys of the neighborhood. Also, for the first time in our lives, we became minorities. This changed everything for us.
I have a passion for the church of Jesus Christ, the best idea in the history of the world. I believe the American church has lost the central idea of what it means to be the church, and I’m passionate to see it recaptured. I’ve dedicated my life to see the Gospel lived out in such a way that it will impact the social fabric of a neighborhood. I believe the Gospel is powerful enough to break down walls that divide us. If God’s people deeply love their neighbor, I believe that education will rise, while poverty and crime will decrease.
As part of our outreach to the neighborhood, our small church began working with people who lived in poverty. Within two years of starting the church, we had started a ministry to single moms, ex-offenders, gang members, and refugees. However, we began to see that while we were helping people in poverty, we were not seeing people actually escape poverty. This realization began our journey to starting two nonprofits, Upstream Impact (secular) and CrossPurpose (faith-based), to help people escape generational poverty.
At the core of what we do is a desire to see neighborhoods without poverty. We believe that poverty has many forms, whether it be relational poverty, economic poverty, or spiritual poverty, and that most of humanity is infected with it. It has been our joy to see our own poverty be addressed as we have engaged deeply with our beautiful neighborhood.