Derek's Story: Following Jesus
It wasn't that I ever rejected God, I had found God early on in life, but the follow piece had never come to be.
Everything was going well in Derek's life, an excellent education, the perfect family, an ideal job, and a beautiful home. Things were going so well that it was easy to overlook God. After moving to West Cobb in late 2016 with his wife Allison, just an intersection away from the North Metro campus, they knew it was the right fit for them. While attendance and involvement were sparse as brand-new parents, an invite and visit to NMC's ManChurch changed things for Derek to begin a journey of truly following God and being hungry for His Word.
Q: When did you find Jesus?
A: I found Jesus as a young child. My parents took my brothers and me to church as kids but after a move to the other side of town, away from their home church, faith wasn't a prominent part of my family life anymore. It was through school friends and their families that I was really able to learn more about God. A pivotal moment in my faith journey came when a high school friend invited me to a youth retreat; even though I felt behind the curve of knowing what's in the Bible amongst my peers, I left with a renewed faith in Jesus, really grasping what He had done for me.
Q: What was the turning point for you to truly pursue following Jesus?
A: My neighbor Adam invited me to a ManChurch at North Metro. I didn't know what that was, but it sounded cool. I didn't know anyone there, but it was great to be in community with other men. At the end of the event, Daniel [NMC Groups Pastor] gave out a handout with some recommended resources, one of the podcasts was called Become Good Soil by Morgan Snyder, I started listening regularly. The whole premise was this lost decade for men, a period in your life where you focus on everything else but God. I was like, "That's Me!" It wasn't that I ever rejected God, I had found God early on in life, but the follow piece had never come to be.
Q: What was your next step to getting connected?
A: After ManChurch, I knew I wanted to get more connected to the church, so I set up a meeting with Daniel. I remember bringing my Bible with me to that meeting. My Bible is special to me, not because it's my first one, I was issued one in the military, given one as a wedding present, but this is the first one I've read. I didn't know what I was looking at in there, but I had a strong desire to learn and study His Word. I knew I wanted and needed a mentor—someone to give guidance and help me dive into God's Word. So, Daniel linked me up with Herb Johnson. Daniel didn't know that I, like Herb, was also a military pilot and shared many life experiences despite our age difference. It was crazy that God lined up the perfect person to walk alongside me. I was literally blown away.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about getting into a small group?
A: I met with Herb, recapped all that was going on, where I was at in life, that I had accomplished all I wanted to, had everything that I wanted, but I wasn't who I wanted to be. He invited me to join his Men's Bible Study Group. I do bring down the average age, some of them are old enough to be my grandfather, but it's great to be in their presence and ask questions. I also am part of a Men's Community Group with others my age. We gather for peer mentoring, questions about Scripture, and sharing life experiences.
Q: Would you say you've become the person you want to be now?
A: I'm really happy that I'm following Jesus. Numerous great things stem from that. It's great to be a leader of my family and for my son to grow up with a solid foundation as a child about who Jesus is. From getting into Scripture, and especially with the group of older men, I've learned that this is a never-ending journey. There are 66 books in the Bible; it's not like I'm going to read it all and put it away, each time I open it is like reading for the first time. I'm humbled at what I've been given and look forward to many more years to come of growing here at North Metro; there's a reason we live right around the corner!