I’m an army “brat” who grew up on the move. By the time I graduated from Hanau American High School in Hanau, Germany, I had lived in six different states and two cities in Germany. I was a good student, was always playing ball (baseball, golf, tennis, basketball) or running cross-country, and played clarinet in my high school marching band. During my senior year I accepted an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy, intending to follow in my father’s footsteps as as army officer.
I’ve had a keen interest in spiritual matters for as long as I can remember and our family’s regular church and Sunday school attendance was a key factor in my acceptance of Christ as Savior when I was a young boy. In West Point’s first-year pressure cooker, separated by an ocean from my family, I began to ask God questions like: “What is my purpose in life?” I discovered that my primary purpose was to begin living my life to glorify God. I sought to do this by developing my relationship with Christ and by actively participating in Christian fellowship. At a weekend conference I was challenged with the biblical mandate to “make disciples of all nations.” I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking and became increasingly aware that I needed to make a change.
I transferred to Virginia Tech and majored in mechanical engineering. During my days at Va. Tech, I attended a missions-minded church and got involved in the leadership of our Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship chapter on campus. I committed myself to serve the Lord overseas at Urbana ’81.
After graduation, I worked for a couple of years as an engineer at NASA and got involved leading a singles’ group at my church in Huntsville, AL. In order to prepare further for Christian ministry abroad, I got a Master of Divinity at Columbia Int. University in SC, where I met Anne Letchford. We were married in 1987. Before leaving for Europe in 1992 I gained a lot of practical ministry experience by serving as an assistant pastor for three years at a solid church in Lancaster County, PA.
We learned Polish and worked in a variety of capacities during our 8-year stint in Poland. When we were denied a visa in 1999, we moved to Germany, where we helped establish the Evangelical Free Church (FeG) of Kaiserslautern. In 2003 we started the FeG Ramstein; we turned our responsibilities in that church over to a young German pastor in early 2012.
We moved to Dresden at the end of 2014 and are getting to know our partner church, the EV Free Church of Dresden (FeG), getting to know new people in a new city and preparing to launch one (or more) church plants.
I am an unusual third culture kid, born to a British father who had been a missionary in Zambia and a Canadian mother (she herself was born in Angola to missionary parents). I spent the bulk of my growing up years in Albany, New York where my father pastored a fairly large, vibrant church. Some of my fondest memories are of the international guests that sat around our dinner table and the stories they told.
Needless to say, I was introduced at a very young age to the gospel message and even at the age of six, I was conscious of being able to meet God’s holy standards and that I needed Jesus to be my Savior. I have my siblings to thank for manifesting my imperfections! 🙂 My family as well as relationships in the church encouraged and strengthened me in my faith. And regular exposure to missionaries stirred up my interest in serving overseas.
Three weeks prior to starting college, my parents and two younger siblings moved to England, where my parents were involved in a conference ministry. This marked the beginning of years on the move for me. After graduating from the State University of N.Y in Oneonta with a Bachelors in Food and Nutrition, I moved to Virginia for a year long dietetics internship and then on to Texas, where I began my professional career as a registered dietitian.
Although landing my first job should have been a real highlight for me, those years are marked by a time of deep doubt in the truth of Christianity and lifestyle choices that left Jesus out of the picture. My family was far away and I was alone. But while I tried hard to forget Jesus, He never left me or forsook me. Instead, He kept pounding on my heart’s door, reminding me that He was there. A significant crisis in a relationship that I had looked to for affirmation, love and the “good life”. Wounded and disappointed, I returned to the lover of my soul, who had been waiting on the side all the time.
Desiring to renew my relationship with Christ, I quit my job and took a year out to attend the graduate school of Columbia International University. There I did the certificate program in Bible and Missions. There I met a wonderful guy, Jeff Ingram, who in the course of time asked me to be his wife. The rest is history, so-to-speak. We have enjoyed 27 years together of learning to love Jesus more and each other in the process. We have spent the bulk of those years in overseas ministry (Poland and Germany). In the fall of 2013 we started on another new adventure together, “The Dresden Initiative”, and are excited about the opportunities God is giving us for sharing His love, grace and goodness in a predominantly atheistic context.
Jeff (husband), Anne (wife), Children: Peter, Andrew, Megan
Church planting with the German Evangelical Free Church (Bund Freier evangelischer Gemeinden). We aim to plant dynamic churches that will be known for their concern for outsiders and their atmosphere of grace. In the initial stages of a church plant we spend a lot of time building relationships and planning and putting on a variety of fun outreach activities and pre-evangelistic and evangelistic events. We also seek creative ways to contribute to community life.
For an interesting, funny and remarkably accurate summary of some characteristics of German people and culture, read this blog post:
DISCLAIMER: I take absolutely no responsibility for the content of this post or the blog. Please read it with this disclaimer in mind.
My wife and I have experienced many of the things in the blogger’s list and we have come to love Germany and the German people, particularly our friends from the Kaiserslautern-Ramstein area of Rheinland-Pfalz, where we just spent 13 great years.
Primary Prayer Request:
As of spring 2014, we are drilling some “test wells” in 2-3 different locations to gauge the openness of the people to the Gospel and the prospects of planting churches in these locations. Pray that the Lord will guide us clearly, open doors for ministry among atheists and lead us to people who have been waiting to hear the Gospel.