I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 3 years old. My grandfather baptized me when I was 10 (the same grandfather who baptized me as an infant). I was headed towards ministry until I lost everything at the age of 15 – my dad suffered a massive nervous breakdown that left him mentally incapacitated and my mom died from kidney failure. I was on my own as a young teen. I tried to drown the pain with substances and physical relationships. I then got kicked out of church. Around that time, I changed schools and found the theatre community. Through performance, I found an emotional outlet that was creative rather than destructive. That’s where I also where I met my future wife (Tena).
After graduating high school, I joined the Army to impress Tena’s family. We were married soon after I finished basic training. While stationed at Ft. Myer, VA (Arlington National Cemetery), I performed in hundreds of full-honor funerals as a part of a 7-man firing party. I then served as a sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns. After the Army, we moved back to CA and attended Fresno State, where I earned a B.A. in Theatre/Acting. Then we moved to L.A. to pursue a Hollywood career.
Quite a few years later, I participated in a massive passion play at a mega church. I was cast as Jesus and a heavy burden weighed on my heart. Was this career worth it? Was my life going to be summed up with my film/TV credits, or would it be possible to change gears and do something with an eternal value? I asked God to remove Hollywood from my heart so that I could be free to serve in ministry without having a divided heart. He eventually did remove that desire and I was set free to serve Him completely.
In 2016, we moved to Idaho Falls where I served as the Connections Pastor at CrossPoint (Church of the Nazarene) and then later as the Community Discipleship Pastor at Watersprings (Calvary Chapel), where I was ordained as a pastor in January, 2022. After 7 years of ministry in Idaho, God called us to Spencer, Iowa to serve as lead pastor at Hope Church.
M.A. in Ministry/Christian Leadership - Hope International University.
M.Div. also from HIU.
D.Min. in Preaching from Lincoln Christian University.
I felt compelled to earn a doctorate since my wife, Tena, earned hers several years ago from USC…I just couldn’t go through life as, “Dr. Tena…and James.”
Married December 1993 to the love of my life. We have 7 boys, 1 daughter-in-law and several grandchildren.
Fun facts: I belong to the Aamjiwnaang First Nation (my great-grandfather was the last bloodline chief). I came in 2nd place on Wipeout (it was the Soccer Special where the big red balls were soccer balls). I was adopted. I secretly wish for Spiderman’s powers. I’ve hosted a podcast called, “Culture Crux,” and authored the book, “The Blog of a Forgiven Cheater.”
We look forward to seeing how God will use us here in Spencer!