He describes the early days of the Personal Computer revolution in terms of business and technology colliding with the Wild West. “I think I was in the right place at the right time to begin a career,” says Jeff of his early years in the micro-computer industry. For two decades, beginning in 1979, Jeff was transfixed by the pioneer spirit and rapid innovations that propelled this business sector to the forefront of consumer products development. It was an exciting time to be in business, but there was a growing restlessness in his heart that God wanted him to leave the industry and change vocations to full time Christian work.
Today, Jeff is a pastor and church leader with Evangelical Friends Church Southwest. He is grateful for his experiences in business and how it prepared him to serve in church ministry through organizational development, team building, and financial management.
Born in Whittier, California, and raised in a Christian family, Jeff learned at a young age that Jesus was his savior and that God had a plan for his life. He married his high school sweetheart Julie in 1981, and they settled in Orange County, raised two daughters, participated in a new church plant with Evangelical Friends in Yorba Linda (Canyon Hills Friends Church founded 1990), and enjoyed a comfortable life. Jeff’s career was exciting in the formative 1980’s years of the PC biz. He learned about the introduction of the Web Browser directly from its co-inventor Marc Andreesen of Netscape, was briefed on Ethernet from co-inventor Bob Metcalf at Xerox, and heard about Pixar animation in a personal meeting with Steve Jobs prior to the company’s transformation from a computer maker into an animation studio. It was a heady time.
Yet after spending 20 years in business, he began to experience an ever increasing feeling that he calls, “a God given discontent.” This led him to explore a new call in his life, to enter full time ministry. Dr. Gayle Beebe, then the Dean of the Azusa Pacific University School of Theology (currently President of Westmont College) gave Jeff his first opportunity to enter a new career in Christian work, as Director of the Friends Center seminary education program at the university. Concurrently, Jeff also completed his Masters in Pastoral Studies and soon accepted the Associate Pastor position at the church that he helped to plant 10 years earlier.
Jeff’s ministry career eventually led to his current position as Director of Corporate Stewardship at Evangelical Friends Church Southwest, the denominational headquarters for Friends churches in California, Arizona and Nevada. As the business manager for this network of Friends churches, he saw God’s hand in bringing about a convergence between his corporate background and ministry experience. It was in this context that Jeff began to learn of the movement within the global church to leverage business enterprise as a platform for ministry and evangelism in underdeveloped regions of the world.
At the time, most people did not see the connection between business and mission. But, unable to ignore the power of the synergy between the two, Jeff was captivated by the words of C. Neal Johnson in his book Business as Mission; “business as mission is a commercial business venture, intentionally devoted to being used as an instrument of God’s mission (missio Dei) to the world. BAM companies minister to all those who are directly in the business’s sphere of influence, such as, their workforce and their families, suppliers, vendors, customers and clients.”
Jeff and his longtime friend Rob Tingley began to discuss ways that they could use their experience in business to serve the Lord in ministry. With the help of their wives, they soon launched a small web-based company (Fair Trade Friends) selling fairly traded coffee via the internet. The venture sold products online that were certified to guarantee the ethical treatment of workers in the Third World, donating the profits of their business to Christian mission organizations.
It was during this exploratory time of integrating business acumen into ministry opportunities that Jeff and Rob formulated a strategic plan with two other men (Bill Hezmalhalch and Mark Murray) who would later join together as the founding board members of Marketplace Ministries Worldwide. They made an exploratory trip to Cambodia to research a business strategy for ministry platforms to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the indigenous people there. They launched their first BAM enterprise, Divine Pizza and Ribs, in 2010.
Expectant for what God has in store for future ministry opportunities, Jeff acknowledges that the Lord has directed his life experiences to prepare him for such a time as this. His passion for business as mission has found a perfect place to cultivate new opportunities to serve the cause of Christ and bless the lives of countless people around the world.