1.) Tell us a little about yourself (i.e., where you’re from, where you went to school, where you work, etc.,) and about your family.
1. A little known fact about myself is I was born in the Caribbean. The story goes that my parents went down there on their honeymoon and simply decided to stay. It was all part of that crazy era called the “60s”. My two older brothers were also born there. I was an infant when we moved to New York city and then down to South Carolina. Growing up in a small town in South Carolina that I affectionately called “Green Vegas” given the tremendous amount of opportunities for young people that existed was not too bad. Upon high school graduation I left for the more subdued environment of college at The Florida State University. Since 1990 Florida has been my home with several stops along the way; law school in Fort Lauderdale, state prosecutor in Fort Lauderdale, state prosecutor in Jacksonville, and now a federal prosecutor in Jacksonville. In my copious amounts of free time I’m also a Major in The Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Army Reserves. I’m truly blessed that I love my jobs. I enjoy coming to work and joining with others to protect our nation and promote the cause of justice. Better than my jobs, is my family. For anyone reading this, let me be clear, I married up. I have a great wife who has the toughest job in the marketplace. She is a stay at home mom with our boys. The boys pretty much consider each day an extension of one long vacation known as life and seem pretty happy. We’re also blessed with my parents, my wife’s parents, and my wife’s sisters’ family in town.
2.) How did you come to faith in Christ?
2. I was raised in the Catholic church. Was in CCD until I was confirmed in 8th grade. I always believed in God, but my relationship through college, law school, and while living in south Florida was shall we say, very one sided. Coming to Christ and affirmatively seeking a relationship with him is largely due to my wife. While the foundation was there, she made it a priority for our marriage and my life in general.
3.) How long have you been a member of Southside? What or who brought you to Southside?
3. We’ve been coming to Southside since 2005. We took the new members class with Dr. Wiatt. Shane Sheffield deserves part of the credit. During our first visit to Southside he took the time to come up and introduce himself. We appreciated him reaching out to us and we’ve been coming ever since.
4.) How long have you been in Baxter Boys? What or who brought you to of Baxter Boys? What’s been most meaningful to you about being a part of Baxter Boys?
4. I’ve been in Baxter Boys since late 2005. Again, Shane gets credit for inviting me. Although, the first time I came, Shane was conspicuously absent. Thus, I met Reece and Robert and started out in Baxter Boys with them. The most meaningful part of Baxter Boys for me is the strength I see on display every Wednesday. Men frequently speak of the struggles in their lives and the challenges facing them at home and work. Yet, no matter the situation laid before the group, no man is ever judged. He is given God-centered advice and the strength in knowing, he is not alone. We all face problems. The difference is our strength in Christ, sharpened through Baxter Boys, that carries us through to tomorrow.
5.) What’s been your favorite (or had the most influence on you) study that we’ve done in Baxter Boys and why?
5. Our most recent study about having God as the boss at work had a profound effect on how I viewed my role at work. I always viewed my job as trying to help others. I truly believe God called me to my profession. Now though, I understand God’s instructions to me more clearly. God didn’t just call me to be a light on a hill. He called me to be a servant leader in the mode of Jesus Christ. God expects me to teach others how to be better and fully use the gifts granted them by God.
6.) What are some of the ways you are serving and leading at Southside? How do those things bless you?
6. I lead a small group at Baxter Boys. The blessings are many, but I’ll narrow the field. First, I’ve become much more versed in the Bible. Seriously, you’d think after eight years of CCD I’d know a little bit more about the Bible. Second, I feel like I understand the men of the Bible and their struggles on a much more personal level. Growing up you have an idealized view of Peter, Paul, John, etc…. Then, as you study them, you begin to understand the tremendous struggles they faced. You know the lions, persecution, being stoned to death, that kind of stuff. Kind of makes getting up early on Wednesday mornings not seem all that difficult. I also serve on the SPRC. Getting to assist the church with the business side of the ministry has been a blessing. You see folks giving so much to further the kingdom of Christ. You become very motivated to do everything you can to be a good steward of the resources provided to Southside.
7.) What’s your favorite Bible verse and why?
7. I have many favorites, but Joshua comes to mind “Be thou strong and very courageous”. Joshua 1:7. Our world is facing many challenges. We need leaders whom will take these challenges head on and persevere to the end. The needed strength and courage for that mission can only be found in God. This verse reminds me to turn to God and make those requests whenever I take on a new mission.
8.) How have you grown in your faith during the last year? What are your spiritual goals for this coming year?
8. My primary area of spiritual growth over the last year has been in the area of work. God is much more present in my work life. I pray much more frequently at work and give thanks on the drive home every day for the tasks he helped me complete. My spiritual goals for the coming year are to develop a stronger prayer life with my wife and to be more intentional with my boys in teaching them to be Godly men.
9.) What’s the biggest challenge for you as a Christian in the workplace?
9. By the very nature of my work, it is adversarial. Many folks think things are black and white in the criminal justice system. Frequently, it isn’t that simple. It is not win or lose, but what furthers the cause of justice. That concept means many things to many people. In viewing my role at work with being a Christian, I try to balance the grace and compassion Jesus gave to sinners with the need to hold individuals accountable for their conduct. It would be easier to take the approach to lock them up and throw away the key. That is not what Christ calls me to do. Make no mistake, there is a reason I carry the prayer of St. Michael the Archangel with me at work. However, I never forget my decisions have dramatic effects on the lives of individuals.
10.) And the perennial favorite: What three people from history would you most want to have dinner with and why?
10. It would be way to easy to say Jesus Christ. Thus, my “other” answers are below:
Stay tuned for the June edition of this interview series.