I was born in Tampa, Fla., and grew up in Nashville, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla. I am the youngest in my family with an older brother, Jeff, and a sister, Elizabeth. In spring 2011, I moved to Denton with my wife, Christy, and four children, Emily, Sarah, Jacob and Jimmy, to work on staff at The Village Church. I am the director of Campus Outreach, an arm of The Village to college campuses in the DFW area.

Growing up, I was an ordinary kid who lived apart from God. I was relatively obedient to my parents out of respect and a healthy fear of discipline. I am grateful for my upbringing and all the seeds my parents planted in my heart about God, but I was not a follower of Christ. In fact, I was in the tragic state of not being a follower of Christ but being deceived into thinking I was. I told people that I was a Christian, and based on most of my personal interactions, I saw no reason to think otherwise. I was self-righteous. I thought if I behaved better than the “bad kids,” I would be safe and go to heaven. I was blinded by my sin and living in a false sense of security.

When I was a freshman at Murray State University in Murray, Ky., I began to experience something I had never experienced before: guilt over the way I lived my life. The guilt was inescapable. I knew I was not right with God, and He was graciously going out of His way to not let me soothe my conscience with the falsehoods that had sufficed so many times before. He was pursuing me relentlessly. As if the guilt was not enough, I also began to experience a gnawing sense of emptiness. I no longer knew what my purpose was. Before college, I had been sure. I had all I wanted. I had a full basketball scholarship, good friends, but I was empty.

Somewhere during that time, the Lord, who is rich in mercy, made me alive in Christ. I don’t know the exact day, but I do remember the words of a loving and honest friend who, after many months of getting to know me and sharing the gospel with me, asked me, “Mike, have you ever considered the possibility that you might not be a Christian?” As soon as the words came out of his mouth, they rang true, and I knew I needed a savior. Christ entered my life when I was 18, and He has been faithful to not let me go.