It’s funny, but when people ask me to share my story and how I got involved with XXXchurch my reply is always the same… “Wow, that’s a long one. Let me try to give you the abbreviated version.”
And so, while I’ve shared my testimony or parts of it many times, I know many of our followers have no idea how I came to this point in life where I’m now leading and running the operations of XXXchurch. Consequently, I thought I’d share my abbreviated story with you as well because quite honestly, it’s one I’d never have scripted if someone asked me twelve years ago.
Why do I say that?
Because when I first was exposed to XXXchurch and their work, I was deep in my own porn addiction. And due to a timely conversation with a former staff member back in 2010, I had one of those clarity moments that shifted the game for me and started me down the road to recovery and eventual freedom.
Because of that experience, XXXchurch has gained a special place in my life. For the first time thanks to their work, a life that was not stained by shame and secrecy. But rather a life filled with purpose and hope.
At the time, I had no illusions that one day the ministry that helped secure my freedom would be the one I ended up working for full-time, leaving behind a 17-year insurance career.
Yet, that’s exactly what happened.
Over the next two years I volunteered with XXXchurch helping with their mission’s trip efforts in New Jersey, writing blogs, and leading a local recovery group for them. Over that period of time I became more and more familiar with their team and staff and welcomed any opportunity to serve when asked.
So In 2012, when they came to me and asked, “Hey, we have this idea for an online small groups ministry and currently have one group with six members. Do you think you can help turn this into something for real?”
The answer was a no-brainer. “ABSOLUTELY – Let’s do this!”
That part-time opportunity in 2013 turned full-time, leading to my exit from the for-profit world of insurance to the nonprofit world of ministry.
At the time I thought they were crazy to hire me.
After all, one of my biggest responsibilities was going to be running all their websites and email marketing. Something I had ZERO experience with. Yet there I was, learning on the job keeping up with everything they threw at me.
Those years were fun.
They were also very stressful.
So much so that in 2016, I resigned my position and headed back into the for-profit world relying on my newly found marketing and technology skills to help keep me employed. It was at that point I thought my time in the ministry world had come to end.
It was fun, but nothing lasts forever, right?
Apparently God had other plans because in 2017 Craig Gross approached me about coming back and assuming the position of COO of XXXchurch.
I couldn’t believe it.
Who would ever believe that this reformed porn addict was now going to be leading the day to day operations of the same ministry that had helped him find freedom 7 years prior?
I thought to myself, “Wow God, I guess this is the final destination of a journey you had planned all along? Now I can get comfortable knowing I’m where I belong.”
Not so as it turns out.
In July of 2019 after venturing into a new direction involving cannabis and more, Craig Gross stepped down as the visible leader of XXXchurch and I resigned (for the second time).
It was a bitter-sweet moment in my life because I knew my days with XXXchurch had ended, yet that occasion led to me starting a new ministry called Live Free, continuing the work I had enjoyed so much for the past nine years.
In 2019 Live Free Ministries acquired Small Groups Online from XXXchurch (the program I had built as a once part-time employee) and launched the LIve Free Community App. One year later we then launched a community for spouses needing support called Live Free Wives.
Consequently, at the close of 2020, I thought things were finally settling down in my life and welcomed the anticipated stability.
But then it happened again. Or better stated…
God happened again.
In February of 2021 I started getting a nagging feeling that I should reach out to Craig and ask him about XXXchurch and a potential acquisition. Some of this was because I had seen the ministry go into a decline and I knew that there was more impactful work to be done.
How many men and women like myself had XXXchurch to thank for their freedom?
How many people had found Jesus because of XXXchurch’s mission’s efforts?
How many marriages had been restored and families repaired due to XXXchurch’s resources?
Truth be told, when I started getting these thoughts I dismissed them as the effects of bad pizza. But they continued each day.
I thought to myself – this is crazy. There’s no way God’s bringing me back to XXXchurch for the 3rd time!
But those thoughts kept coming and coming so I finally decided to indulge that little voice and fired off a text to Craig asking if he’d be willing to release XXXchurch to us.
Imagine my surprise when Craig called me later that day and said… “Let’s talk.”
Three weeks later it was official… XXXchurch became a part of Live Free Ministries.
What a crazy journey. Again, something I never would or could have scripted.
- XXXchurch was the catalyst that led to my freedom over ten years ago.
- Two years later I got hired full time and left the for profit world of insurance.
- Four year later I resigned to enter the marketing world.
- One year later I returned as the new COO
- Two years later I resigned… AGAIN!
And then here we are three years later. Who would have thought?
What’s coming next?
Your guess is as good as mine.