Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Editor’s Note: We recently welcomed Dave as a new board member for The Upstream Collective. Dave has many years of missions experience, from leading short term mission trips, working with sending agencies, and serving as a missions pastor. He is passionate about mobilization and will be a valuable addition to our Upstream team. Below is an interview with him.
What is your background?
I grew up in a small town in central Illinois. While I was in college at Eastern Illinois University, I got involved with Campus Crusade for Christ. Following graduation, I joined the staff of Cru. They asked where I would like to be placed. At the time, I’d only been out of the state of Illinois twice—once to Iowa and once to Missouri—and even then, never out of sight of Illinois! So, feeling really adventurous, I said that I’d be willing to go anyplace in the Midwest. I was thinking, I’d even be okay going all the way to Indianapolis! They sent me to Spokane, Washington.
While serving with Cru in Spokane, I met Glenda, my pastor’s daughter and the cute piano player at church. She had recently returned to the United States from Vietnam, where her parents had been missionaries before coming back to the U.S. to plant a church. We got married and are celebrating our forty-third anniversary this year. We have two grown daughters and four, soon to be five, grandchildren. Our kids and grandkids all live here in Chicago.
What is your testimony? How did you come to know Christ?
I grew up as a “preacher’s kid” and was exposed to the gospel from an early age. When I was 9 years old, I have the distinct memory of getting out of bed one night and going downstairs to ask my dad how I could know that I would go to heaven when I died. He clearly shared the gospel with me and I prayed with him to invite Christ into my life. However, it wasn’t until I was in college that I really surrendered my life fully to Christ and asked him to be Lord over everything in my life.
How did the Lord lead you to be involved with missions?
I was exposed to missions at my church when I was growing up. I always was intrigued by the stories the visiting missionaries would tell. After I married a missionary kid, we explored an opportunity to serve overseas, but God closed the door. I began to have a strong desire to raise up and send others to serve globally. Essentially, I said, “God, if you won’t let me go myself, would you let me send others?” As I took students internationally every year and began to be more exposed to the unreached, that desire to send grew more and more.
What is your missions experience?
When I was a youth pastor, I took a group of students on a short-term mission trip to work in a Native American community in Canada. I saw that God did more in the lives of the students in that short 2-week experience than in an entire year of normal youth ministry. A few years later, I joined staff with a short-term mission agency and spent the next twenty-one years taking high school and college students on summer mission trips. I also started taking teams of youth workers to train youth leaders in other countries.
Following that, I served as Missions Pastor in two different churches on the West Coast and then joined a sending agency in the Mobilization Department. I currently serve as the Global Outreach Pastor at Park Community Church in Chicago and have been there for a little over five years.
You have led short term mission trips to 70 countries. Do you have a favorite place?
I have too many “favorite” places! Most of my favorite places are tied to relationships and experiences that I had there. I love Ireland and Scotland because I have had some great friendships with leaders there. I love Lebanon for the same reason. After twenty years of traveling and sharing Christ all over Europe, I have a ton of great memories from there. And I love Indonesia since I have had the opportunity to see firsthand some of the incredible ways God is drawing people to himself among unreached peoples. I also have so many friends and ministry partners and experiences across Africa, There’s more, but I should probably stop there!
Can you share a story from one of those trips?
One of my favorite stories was from a time I led a team of fifty high school and college students on a summer trip around the world. We wanted to expose them to sharing Christ with people in each of the major world religions. We ended up smuggling bibles into China. Our team of fifty students delivered more than five thousand bibles to house churches that week.
How did you get connected with The Upstream Collective?
After I moved into the Global Pastor position at Park Community Church, I received an email about a multi-site mission leader cohort that Upstream was doing and jumped at the chance to connect with other people in similar roles with multi-site churches. I benefited greatly from the way Upstream had thought through and articulated the Sending Church Elements and it has deeply impacted what we do at Park.
Is there anything specific you’re looking forward to when it comes to serving with Upstream?
I’m excited to be a part of a network of leaders who are passionate and committed to helping local churches be effective and fruitful senders! I’m convinced that Upstream is on the cutting edge of the wave of churches who are seeing their role as senders and is uniquely positioned to equip and resource those churches.