Student Spotlight

Stacy Fleming

The grandson of a preacher, son of two country music musicians, born some 50 years ago, Stacy is now a single father of four and works for Athens/Clarke County (for over 30 years) as their Electrical Operations Supervisor.  Having grown up in the church it wasn’t until he was 20 that he had, what he refers to as, his “feel good salvation” moment.  “I wanted to have a better life. I wanted to live better. I wanted to have that peace and joy I heard believers talk about. So I said the prayer and was dunked in some water at the church.”  He quickly got involved in the church teaching Sunday School, third grade Vacation Bible School, serving as a deacon and being the Chairman of the Property Committee.  That lasted for 17 years.  But God in His mercy didn’t leave him there.  He tells the story “I was sitting at my kitchen table one morning and it was as if someone just socked me in the stomach. No burning bush or sounds from heaven. Just in my heart I heard ‘Hey Stacy I am Jesus and I want a RELATIONSHIP with YOU!’”  Oh the love and patience of God!

From that point life changed from Stacy doing stuff for Jesus to Stacy being with Him, having a relationship with Him.  Life was more about love, grace and mercy because of the love, grace and mercy God had extended to him.  To this day he is still amazed that Jesus came to him in the midst of his “religious work” to have a real relationship with him.  He freely admits “it’s not easy” living this new life, but knowing the truth that he “can do all things through Christ who strengthens him” gives him faith to push ahead.  Now he serves with different motives and in a different way even though he’s incredibly active at his home church, Living Hope.  His heart’s compassion is for those who are just like he was, thinking they are all set with God, but “lost as they can be!”  Now he’s pursuing a ministry degree here at Athens College of Ministry in order to be more effective in ministering to folks just like himself.

There were a number of things that “sealed the deal” (as Stacy would say) for him to attend ACMin over every other college.  He’s always wanted to go back to school, but didn’t have a way or the means to do so.  In meeting with Dr. Huckaby and looking at the courses offered he saw “everything I wanted to learn and felt I needed was being taught” at ACMin.  Combine that with the Ministry Partnership Living Hope Church has with the college and other scholarships available and he was able to financially afford it as well.

Stacy has also been deeply affected by the relationships that began from the moment he met the staff continuing on through the midst of classes.  “In meeting the staff I felt welcomed not as just a student, but as a friend and part of the family. Now, when I meet another student, like Tim Savelle (they did not know one another prior to a recent ACMin course), I don’t just say ‘hi’ to him but give him a hug.  He’s become a friend!  We pray with each and for each other and carry each other on our hearts now.  I wouldn’t have that getting an online degree, that kind of relationship.  And that’s an important part of this whole process.”

Stacy is a very busy man with many responsibilities, but he has carved out time to pursue a degree here at ACMin because it propels him forward into a greater effectiveness in serving God in his life.  “I know that God has placed me here because nowhere else could I have an education like this and have so many people waiting to help me both academically and spiritually.  They are here for me!  Thank you so much for this opportunity!”

Thank you to all who pray for and support this college.  This kind of story happens because of your investment.

Katie Braden

I have walked with the Lord for most of my life. I accepted Christ as my personal Savior at a very young age. As a young child, church wasn’t always engaging or a place where I invited my friends. Bible stories were told using flannel boards and at the front of the church for a few minutes. However, my grandfather and mother made a point of making Jesus real in my life. They were always reminding me that God loved me no matter what and that He would never leave my side. In my later years of elementary school, we moved to a church that was vastly different than the church we had been attending. At this church, I found Jesus for myself and discovered what it meant to truly follow Him. My mother and grandfather’s faith, became real and personal to me. Entering into middle school, I knew that God was calling me to engage in fulltime ministry. I began volunteering with the children’s ministry, singing in the youth worship band, and participating in summer mission trips. I enrolled in a Christian liberal arts college to earn my education degree with a minor in voice performance. God continued to keep fulltime ministry close to my heart. During my freshman year of college, I began attending a church where I was the minority. The church was small and the children attended with their parents. God began to place a yearning in my heart to start a children’s ministry for them. I contacted the Children’s Pastor at my home church, who had mentored me growing up and had cultivated my aspiration for children’s ministry in my heart, about this yearning God had given me. That summer I came home from college and completed an internship with the Children’s Pastor. When she unexpectedly had to have surgery and be out for six weeks, the church placed me as the Interim Children’s Pastor. God allowed this opportunity to prepare me as I returned to college in the fall and began a children’s ministry at the church I attended as a freshman. Over the course of the next three years of college, I would continue serving at this church and studying towards obtaining my degree in education. I also experienced multiple unexpected deaths of loved ones that created a great sadness that I would push deep into my soul. My first year of teaching would prove to be more challenging than I anticipated and that sadness I tried to suppress would rear its ugly head. After months of severe depression and counseling that wasn’t producing results, my parents sent me to a weeklong intensive therapy camp. It was here that God revealed himself in a very real and personal way. It was here that I heard God’s voice audibly and discovered His deep love for me. This experience would propel me into a deeper relationship than I had ever experienced with God before. Over the next few years, I would continue teaching in a public school, earn my Master’s and Specialist’s degree, and volunteer in my church. The desire for fulltime ministry was still in my heart. After 10 years of teaching, the desire in my heart became so prevalent that I could not ignore it. I began applying for jobs in ministry and within months, found myself moving half way across the United States to begin a job as a Children’s Pastor at a church in Texas. During this time I cultivated relationships with church and community leaders. After a year and a half in Texas, unforeseen circumstances would bring me back home to Georgia. God would use this time to draw me deeper in my relationship with him and to trust him more and more with every aspect of my life; fully turning everything over to Him and living with my hands open.

God has revealed himself in very real ways to me when he chose to save my life three times. At the age of two, I had a seizure and slipped into a coma, waking up on Mother’s Day. My mom always told me that God had an incredible plan for my life because he allowed me to live when there was no hope. At the age of 30, I would once again suffer from multiple seizures, after a flu vaccine, that resulted in losing all my abilities and putting me into a coma-like state. The doctors would give little hope for me ever being normal again. However, by the power of prayer and God’s healing hand, I would step back into my life, after two months of intense therapy, as though nothing had ever happened. Finally, at the age of 32, with the hope to bare my own children one day, I would undergo an unexpected hysterectomy due to internal bleeding. God would later reveal to me that ultimately he saved me from dying in child birth or losing a child. All three of these experiences have deepened my faith with Jesus and have allowed me to truly walk with my hands open to wherever God would lead me.

Throughout my 34 years, God has allowed me to endure suffering, pain, and heartbreak. However, I have learned that through all circumstances, God is faithful, He never leaves my side, and He fills me with His deep abiding joy. He has allowed me to reach the point where I can say without hesitation, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Help me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

George Shu

The Christian life is a paradox of joy in sorrow, life in death, and power in weakness.  George Shu is a testimony of that. Born of a Chinese mother and an Iranian father, they left Iran as refugees when he was 2.  He was “raised in an agnostic home” and had only once heard the name of Jesus prior to his 16th birthday.  As George puts it “my life was filled with depravity” from his parents’ divorce when he was 8, his father disappearing and his mother never being at home.  His world was dark, purposeless and devoid of love.  In turn George was alone, friendless and lost.  But a high school acquaintance invited him to Grace Church in Snellville and he went because “I had nothing to lose and knew nothing about Jesus!”  There, for the first time he saw people who loved one another and he heard of Jesus and His gospel.  He was awestruck by the character of Jesus, he’d never heard of anyone like Him before.  It was there that he knew he wanted to follow Jesus … and his life changed.  This teenager experienced real joy and truly smiled for the first time, he developed friends and healthy relationships and now had a sense of purpose.  God gave him a huge heart for the lost and their plight.  Even though he experienced some extreme persecution from his own family his bond with Christ and that local church continued to grow.
In his freshman year of college he heard Brother Yun speak in person (one of the leaders and leading church planters in all of China) and his heart’s flame for the people of the east was stoked.  His calling was being clarified. Yet, God had much work to do in preparing His vessel.  Over the next 6 years George moved to Athens, became all the more involved in the local church and eventually came on staff with the Wesley Foundation at UGA. It was an intensified season of preparation as God confirmed his calling, refined him in the fire of trials, removed things that would constrain him, healed him through his brokenness, gave him gifts, and trained him to know His voice and follow.
It’s become clear that George is meant for Eastern Asia and to be a part of Pioneers, who deals mainly with unreached people groups. He sees that Athens College of Ministry is God’s provision to prepare him with the requirements Pioneers has for equipping people for long-term missions.  The college is part of his “pre-field work” Biblical training.  He chose the Athens College of Ministry over seminaries and Bible colleges because it’s local, people are more effectively trained in classroom settings than online, the price is right (at less than half of most other choices) and Living Hope Church here in Athens is his sending church.  This enables him to remain an active part of their church and training in the process of him being sent.  He still has a journey of coursework, a 3-month trip in the summer of 2018 to East Asia, finishing up classes, a two-year “Launch” in final training and then a long-term assignment.  Pray for this man!
Are you considering attending Athens College of Ministry?  Listen to George’s encouragement:  “It’s a great opportunity because of the giftedness of professors in teaching (they are well trained and understand the learning process), and the in-classroom experience enhances learning (learning is individualized with small classes, largely discussion oriented and great interaction with other students) and it’s about half the price of most other bible colleges and seminaries.”

Ira Studivant

As I listened to Ira Studivant share some of her story one moment seemed to jump out of the book that is her life (and still being written).  A moment revealing something of God and His character in her.  A steadfastness.  The steadfastness of God, who never left her or forsook her, that loved her and carried her on His wings. And how He instilled that same steadfast heart and will within her as she has walked through 32 years of marriage (to Randall), as a pastor’s wife, the mother of 3 children (Sheritta, Randy and Jeremie), managing two beauty salons (some 40 miles apart) and a clientele base of her own.
Oh, it may not have always been as obvious as it is now, but the seed was there from the earliest of days.  As a child Ira always felt close to Christ. Her parents had a Bible study in their home and it was common for her even at 6 or 7 to lay hands on her mom and pray for her when she was sick. It’s what she knew, or rather who she knew, that grounded her.  Little did she realize how much that grounding would be needed as life progressed.
Married at 17 and shortly thereafter having 3 children her life was wrapped up in loving her husband, caring for and ministering to her children. But in 1992 her world was rocked as her precious firstborn daughter of 8, Sheritta, was diagnosed with cancer. Over the next two years Ira saw her daughter battle through the treatments, sickness and pain with courage and faith that belied her youth.  “And a little child shall lead them.”  Sure that clearly applies to Jesus, but in this case it also applies to Sheritta.  Out of the mouths and lives of babes can come incredible wisdom, strength and faith, especially when they know and love Jesus.  Sheritta did and Ira’s faith was strengthened through her daughter’s battle and by her daughter’s life.  Sheritta’s life, although brief in this place, has left an eternal imprint upon the Studivant family that will never be forgotten (nor should it be) and will constantly bring joy and build faith (even in the midst of Ira “still recovering”).
Our God can take the tragedies and heartbreak of this life and redeem them for His glory.  That’s what He has done in this mom’s life. Even as she sees a Slim Jim (Sheritta’s favorite) or a bunk bed (she always slept on the top bunk) and misses her deeply, Ira has become steadfast through the storms of life, just like her God!  It doesn’t mean there were no struggles, it means that she always ended up with Jesus.  Although Ira would never say she is steadfast like her God, her life reflects it as she walks through her days in faith.  Faith in the One who went to the cross for her, who’s never given up on her, who’s never turned away from her or abandoned her. Although only a snapshot of her life, it captures so much of the essence of what God’s been and is doing in and through her.  Her life is so much more than this story, but her life wouldn’t be what it is without this story!  STEADFAST!
Now God has brought her to our college because education is important to her. But she realizes true education is more than just information when it involves her God, it’s transformation.  She is at Athens College of Ministry to continue to be transformed as she is brought face to face with Jesus. And out of that personal change she will help others know this steadfast Jesus better even as they experience times that “rock” their own life!

Every semester ACMin offers a variety of courses developed to meet the requirements of various programs including certificate, associate, bachelors and masters with concentrations in areas such as worship arts, care and counseling, and field ministry (missions). An integral part of each course is the syllabus, which serves as a road map by which students and faculty navigate the various lessons and assignments. Another, less visible, yet essential part of the development of every ACMin course is the work of the Academic Dean Committee.

The Academic Dean Committee is comprised of respected local Christian leaders with doctorate-level credentials from respected theological institutions.  Their charge is to review all ACMin Course Syllabi, ensuring that the course content aligns with our Belief Statement and the ACMin Educational Goals. Academic Deans, Dr. Raymond Morris, Dr. Carlos Sibley, Dr. Lee Mason and Dr. Dan Dunn study each course syllabus to determine how closely the instructor’s lessons, required readings, assignments (papers, tests, journals, etc.) correlate with the college’s Christian Philosophy of Education, Educational Goals and Program objectives. Dr. Deborah Huckaby, chair of the Christian Ministry Program, then works with individual instructors to incorporate any recommendations into the course syllabus. The excellent quality and theological integrity of ACMin. educational courses is evidence of the work of our dedicated Academic Deans.

Faith Jennings

Faith … a wonderful word that’s a challenge to live by!  And having that as her name, Faith Jennings knows all about the challenge.  She heard the Gospel as a youngster and came to believe in Jesus, but like many her life has been a journey to live by faith.  A country girl from a small country church she didn’t know how to have a relationship with Jesus.  Although raised in the church, she didn’t really understand what faith meant and what it looked like.  Sensing in her heart there was something more she “searched everywhere else except God to fill the longing … that only He is meant to fill.”  When faith lacks the object of its passion the passion will find fulfillment in other places, and that’s what happened with Faith.  Her passion found its object in alcohol where she became addicted.  It wasn’t until her mid 30’s that through an alcohol recovery program she began to learn what a relationship with Jesus was and began to trust (have faith) in Him as never before.  Now, some 13 years later, her faith-journey apart from alcohol continues.  She has found that faith is intricately woven with serving the One she has believed in and her life readily reflects this.  She’s taking “every opportunity” to grow in her relationship with Jesus becoming an active member at Grace Fellowship (for over 10 years) and serving in many different roles.  She knows that to have a deepening relationship with Christ she must have those kind of relationships with other believers and they are invested weekly in their small group at church (over 4 years running), learning to “do life together.”  They also lead a recovery group at Grace.  She serves on the board with Athens Area Walk to Emmaus (as well as on numerous walks and sponsoring couples) and has be a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries where she shares the Gospel and her testimony regularly.  Faith is a verb … for Faith!
Coming to Athens College of Ministry
While homeschooling her two youngest children Faith had a growing sense she would be going back to school.  Little did she realize her relationship with Cindy Mackey (faculty at ACMin and Director of the Transformational Prayer Ministry here) would lead her into the college’s Prayer Ministry Certification program.  With her heart’s desire to minister to other women, especially those struggling with addictions and the shame and guilt that accompany them, she found clarification and calling.
Although it’s only been one semester, Faith feels better equipped to serve others as well as “more equipped for living life in a fallen world.”  She has a greater faith for the journey … and that faith has not only “set her free,” but is centered on her Savior and God like never before!  No wonder God had her named “Faith.”

Cindy Schulman

Berny and Cindy loaded up their trucks and moved to Athens …Georgia that is.  Fishing ponds, City Church!  Nope, they didn’t strike “black gold” but they did arrive at a faith that changed their lives forever, to be those who lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel!

Cindy was a Florida girl, born and raised in a good home and went to church, she heard the Gospel from the very beginning, but it wasn’t until about 10th grade that she really understood some of the magnitude of her own sin and what it cost Jesus.  It was then she believed Jesus was enough to save her.  She lived, like so many, in a sort of ritualism though for many years.  Going to church is just what you do.  The church was part of the checklist of do’s and she had another list of don’ts.  Life was about regulations and limits.

She went on to attend college, but in the midst of it she met Berny, a good looking non-believing Jew who, before he could date Cindy, had to meet her parents, family and extended family.  That encounter was the beginning of many meetings as Cindy’s dad pursued Berny.  Within a month he had led him to Christ.  Some five months later they were wed.  Berny being young in the Lord looked to Cindy to lead, but hers was still a perfunctory relationship with God of which the local church was simply something she felt obligated to do.  It wasn’t until a year later when they attended Metro Life Church in Orlando that things really changed.  They were affected by the deep relationships they saw and how this church was “doing life” together … like no place else she’d ever seen.  Over time their hearts were transformed into a deep love of Christ and His bride, the church, and they gave themselves whole-heartedly to it.

Their children were born and raised in Metro Life Church and they developed deep and abiding friendships that still remain to this day.  One of those friendships was with Paul and Darby Cooke.  When the Cookes were sent to Athens to plant a church in 2001, the Schulmans came to support them on their opening Sunday.  They kept in contact, but had not considered relocating to be part of this fledgling upstart of a church.  Berny and Cindy had their church, Berny had his business, and they had a clear mission in Orlando.  But as the years passed they began to feel their hearts tugging towards Athens and City Church.  They prayed, they visited and they encouraged those here.  And God moved in their hearts to leave everything behind, sell their home and business, and move their family here to serve and give their lives away for the Gospel in City Church and Athens.  It wasn’t so easy though.  Berny’s business began slowing down and became difficult to sell.  Their house stayed on the market for over a year without selling.  They both could not find a job that would support them.  Needless to say, it was a trying time, but they had such faith that God had done this it was never a question in their minds if they’d somehow “missed God.”

So, they waited and prayed and faithfully served in their church … caring for folks and reaching out to those in the city.  As God would have it, a year later He provided work for Cindy and for Berny that met their needs.  Berny and Cindy began serving as a small group leader and in other leadership capacities.  They have continued to serve sacrificially and selflessly for years, opening their home and their hearts to the lost, the hurting, the searching and the broken … caring for and loving on them for the sake of the Gospel.  This is a couple and family that values Christ, His church, relationships and the privilege of serving their Savior.

Now a new season has come with children marrying, grand-babies being born and church-life changing, but the faith required to move here has been transferred as Cindy is now pursuing her Masters Degree here at Athens College of Ministry.  She was first introduced to the college when her eldest daughter Alexa came to work here in 2014.  Desiring to pursue training to minister more effectively wherever God has her had been a driving force in her life.  But what attracted her to ACMin were the instructors and their heart “that drives me into the Word of God, to know God, to love Him, and to better serve ministering wherever God would have me.”

Since being here that’s been reinforced, “It’s not just knowledge you’re getting, it’s revelation, relationships, ministry and worship … it’s common for classes consistently to have worship in them. And there’s a heart of ministry in every single instructor that I’ve had here.  I really do think anyone who is pursuing the Lord would benefit from getting credits here where your academics are reinforcing your pursuit of God.  I’m very excited for the accreditation, because in advising at UGA (she works as an advisor for students) I can say that ACMin is one of the options to have credits transfer.”

Cindy’s faith has continued to grow and bless … now it even blesses Athens College of Ministry!

Steve Pierce

Steve, the son of a Chinese immigrant mother and southern American father, was raised in a family that attended church.  He was a “good kid,” or at least tried to be.  Obedient, kind, polite … you know, the kind of kid you want your kids to be.  But his striving to be that good kid reached a breaking point at 13 where he could never be good enough to please and be accepted by God.  And he was miserable!  Just like God the Gospel of redemption confronted him and Steve believed who Jesus is and the work He did was enough.  The weight of performance he’d carried his young life, lifted and something significant shifted in his heart and life.  It wasn’t too long before this newborn “Jesus Freak” (a familiar taunt of classmates) was leading a Bible study at break-time in school.

He became heavily involved in his church with wonderful fruit in his own life.  He looked for ways to serve and bring Jesus wherever he was.  As high school wound down his own sense of calling into ministry grew stronger.  Going to his pastor, who was very aware of his growth, he was encouraged to look at pastoral ministry and he brought it before the congregation who affirmed him.  After graduation he received the Air Force ROTC scholarship (a pretty rare feat) and they saw it as God’s leading.  After 4 years of college he served our country 4 more years in the Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base in Ft Walton Beech, FL, specifically as a software engineer.

He tells the story of finishing his 4 years in the Air Force on Friday and walking out in his uniform and on Monday, in the same building a floor higher, entered the workforce as a civilian contractor.  Basically doing the same thing he was prior.  All the while he’s been serving as a counselor with his local church youth group and going on missions trips. Meanwhile, aside from these happenings, an “unexpected” relationship was brewing with his long-time pastor’s daughter, Kathy.  Friends through the years, but nothing beyond (at least that’s Steve’s story) until he began this new career path.  Kathy had moved to nearby Tallahassee and Steve began making the weekly 90 minute “commute” to Tallahassee to visit his “friend”.  Well it wasn’t too long until Kathy wasn’t just a friend anymore and they were engaged and then married October 25, 1986.

Through the ensuing years he still sensed an internal call to ministry, but could not find definition on it.  In moving to Dahlonega in 2003 his path crossed Rick Bonfim (of “Rekindle the Flame” Conference) while he was pastoring a small church.  He pastored only 2 years, but his relationship with Rick remains one of the most influential in his life.  An evangelist, Rick has led many missions’ trips to countries like Brazil, where Steve and Kathy were deeply affected.  Steve began to understand his call was not so much about being a vocational pastor, but pastoring wherever God placed him … and that had been in the business world.  “Business as ministry!” God had made him a fully-funded missionary to the business world in numerous cities across the southeastern US.

Now God has led him to ACMin for a Certificate in Prayer Ministry Leadership to be better equipped to serve in his home, work, community and Living Hope Church (their home church).  It was Mrs Cindy Mackey coming to Living Hope Church with a Lifelong Ministry Workshop on Two-Way Prayer that further clarified Steve’s calling and his need to pursue further equipping.  God’s provision is bountiful to identify, equip and supply all of his fully-funded missionaries wherever we are … even right here in Athens, Georgia.  We don’t need to look to the other side of the pulpit or the world to necessarily find what God has for us … It’s usually right in front of our eyes, with our neighbors … where we can live out the love of Christ!

Kristin Trammell

Kristin’s destiny seemed to be mapped out from birth.  A rough childhood, parents who divorced at an early age and dysfunction all around.  Her life-trajectory had all but been set.  A life of brokenness, heartache and deep loneliness seemed destined.

Raised in the rural setting of Rocky Face, Georgia, Kristin had a life in the church and heard the Gospel, but would not have been owned by it.  Her love was music, particularly percussion and playing the drums in her high school band.  Even though baptized at a young age, she walked in a self-righteousness and legalism that drove her to be a “good girl” but never God’s girl.

Her “Momma” all the while was living a life of faith through her battle with breast cancer.  Serving Kristin, taking her to school, working full-time, going to radiation therapy at lunch, picking her up after school. Never complaining, facing her fears with her Savior.  God was planting seeds of a different kind of identity and life through a hero called “Momma”, shaping her, preparing her for her own new story!

Her story took another turn at a party when a friend posed “what if we got bit by a snake and died right here?”  Kristin left abruptly and knew she had to “get right” with the LORD, and at 17 she repented and believed in Christ for life.  What may have been deemed a “throw-away” comment God used to alter Kristin’s life.  Now she began to search for truth of who God is and who she is now in Christ.

It was in her journey to UNG in Dahlonega specifically the Wesley Foundation that she began to understand this new identity.  It was in the Griffith family (the head of Wesley) and their 3 children that she realized God’s great love for her in a New Testament reality of loving, self-sacrificing relationship with God and one another.  Here she experienced “family” and genuine Christianity that led her to forgive and walk in newness of life.  II Corinthians 5:17 came to life, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  This kind of relationship and love affected every part of her life transforming even her relationships with her family.

Majoring in music, she initially went on to be an elementary music teacher.  But this new identity would not allow her to settle, even though it was a good and honorable job.  God had something different in store … a calling!

No longer was she to be a little drummer girl, but a leader of God’s people in worship of Him!  So, this petite percussionist began her search through colleges that would train her with hands-on mentoring, walking with her and leading by example.  The uniqueness of ACMin stood out as that place where she would get world-class instruction and discipleship with leaders who walk with her.  It was exactly her heart’s desire.

Now God is writing another chapter of her story as His beloved daughter restored into the family of Christ, to her family members, to service of her God … freed to follow Him and be His!  Her new identity in Christ has been revealed while who she is becoming is written on her Father’s heart!

Tim Savelle

55 years old, married, grown children, successful teacher … he didn’t see this coming!  Tim Savelle might be your stereo-typical adult-ed teacher (if there is such a thing) except for God.  Married to Amy with three children ages 25 to 29 and first grandchild on the way, he would have been fine with a life of solitude, compartmentalizing work, home and religion.  Except God!

Although Tim was raised in church, God was not a part of his life. Upon arrival at UGA God had other plans and gave him two Christian roommates, both passionate lovers of Jesus … a first for Tim!  So compelling were their lives, he followed them to BCM and Prince Avenue and soon came to believe wholeheartedly in Jesus Christ.  But living in grace was foreign to him, “everything was works based.”  Yet, grace was showered upon him in Amy as his new bride, children, a good and rewarding teaching position and even becoming a deacon heavily involved in men’s ministry. Busy with many good things, yet not with what was best, he was the “poster child for independence” devoid of a relationship with God.  Eventually he found himself in full-fledged rebellion … alone.  His “works of religion” had kept God at arms’ length & grace unrealized.

In 2012 God broke through using two crisis.  His son’s near-fatal bicycle accident and his daughter’s traumatic hospitalization!  God came near and rocked Tim’s world!  In the midst of this his pastor Bill Curington (St James UMC) asked him to recite the Apostle’s Creed and read Psalm 105:1-4 in the Sunday service.  As Tim recited the creed the Spirit of God descended iwith such power it appeared every soul was moved.  “I didn’t know what hit me, but I worshiped God that day as I never had before.  I was set free!”  Grace had undone him … God’s unmerited favor changed him!  God was so alive that Tim’s sole desire was to know Him.  He consumed Scripture, “it was the only thing that could satisfy the hunger of my soul.”  He now desired to care for others … when it had prior been but dutiful religion.  “Every inclination to pursue anything other than God, I lost interest in … all of it … and it has not returned!”

Athens College of Ministry
Sensing a call to more effectively serve in ministry, it wasn’t long before he spoke with Dr. Marcia Wilbur, President of the College.  Marcia’s passion for the Savior affected him so deeply he recognized the college as God’s means to help equip him and clarify his direction in ministry.  Tim has found ACMin a place to “grow in relationships with teachers that are equipping me to do what God has called me to.”  He’s seen the small intimate classes as a great benefit to his equipping because it gives him greater opportunity to engage with professors, students and the subject material … and it’s been used to change him all the more.  To know Tim now is to know someone passionate about Jesus Christ, transformed by His love and unable to keep quiet about Him.  Tim has no greater joy than to see his marriage continually rejuvenated, his children walking with Christ, and to serve His Savior at the Potter’s House and St James in many ways including missions to Tanzania (where St James is building their 11th church in partnership).

It’s not where Tim thought he would have been. But that’s what happens when grace abounds!