Mike believes he is formed by Christ to form others.
He is an ordained Minister of the Word in the Christian Reformed Church in North America. In March of 2004, Mike received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. He specialized in adult lay leadership development. Prior to that, Mike served as resident pastor at New Life Church in Spring, Texas, planted and pastored Community Life Church in Missouri City, Texas, and also developed and implemented the Texas Leadership Development Network, which was the predecessor to Ascending Leaders. Mike has also helped church leaders refocus and has been involved in the city-reaching efforts in the greater Houston, Texas area.
Mike is the core author of most of Ascending Leaders' material. He sees his calling and gifting as being a faithful tool for creatively forming others. His passion is to help people grow and serve effectively as discipled leaders in God's Kingdom.
Mike, his wife, Gina and their two children, Emmelyn and Nicholas, have made Sugar Land, Texas their home since 1990. Mike enjoys gardening with his wife and family activities, such as traveling and camping. He also enjoys friends and reading.
Ms. Teri WatsonSugar Land, Texas
Ms. Judi BlackAustin, TX
Judi is a dedicated Christ follower who joined the Ascending Leaders team as a contract editor in 2006. Judi holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Bradley University and a master's degree of Education in Reading and Language Arts from Northern Illinois University. After several years of teaching and several years at home raising her two children, Judi stepped into the world of editing. Judi works full time for an educational publishing company and freelance edits for Ascending Leaders. Judi also wears an additional hat on the team as a Grant Writer. Currently, Judi lives in Austin,Texas with her son, daughter and two cats -- all entrusted by our loving Father.
Rev. Pete BymaLynden, WA
Pete is a follower of Jesus who is the senior pastor of Sonlight Community Church in Lynden, WA and the Pacific Northwest Regional Ambassador for Ascending Leaders.
Pastor Pete has a passion for effective and equipped church leaders and congregations. "There are few things more exciting in the church than to see God's people fruitful and fulfilled as they grow in Christ-centered discipleship." Pastor Pete's theme verse, Ephesians 4:12, reminds us that "God's people are to be equipped for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in knowledge of the Son of God and become mature."
Pete's work as a Regional Ambassador involves connecting with church leaders to share the resources of Ascending Leaders to enhance spiritual growth in their congregations. He is trained to lead Group Guide training workshops and is only a phone call or email away for consulting on discipleship and small groups in Washington State.
Ms. Phoebe BodeEl Paso, Texas
Phoebe serves as a Regional Coordinator for the El Paso, Texas area. As a group guide she experienced first hand the power for real change in these materials and this unique method. That has made her passionate about recommending Ascending Leaders. She has also served as a group guide for small groups at neighboring churches that desire to use the AL method and materials.
Current Contract Employees
(some volunteer and some remunerated)
Mr. Tom BrattGrand Rapids, Michigan
Tom has years of work experience on various political campaigns and in development work with several Christian nonprofits. Recently, God has been giving Tom a growing conviction about discipleship. He meets weekly in a triad of men for mutual encouragement.
Pastor Gary ForanRound Rock, Texas
The Round Rock campus pastor at Gateway Community Church, Gary was one of the first believers in the mission of Ascending Leaders. He prototyped many of our earliest materials and trainings. Gary brings his keen insight into the needs of churches to the board.
Mr. Geronimo GarciaEl Paso, Texas
Geronimo is the president of Geronimo Designs, a creative marketing and advertising agency serving the greater Southwest. An early adopter of Ascending Leaders'materials and methods, the board benefits from his marketing savvy and design skills.
Ms. Judy HageyWinter Springs, Florida
See information about Judy under staff.
Dr. Mike JohnsonSugar Land, Texas
See information about Mike under staff.
Mr. Ed SchansDenver, Colorado
The former owner of Donsons Distributing, Ed continues to serve the Lord's kingdom in retirement. He chairs the board of his church and two other nonprofits, besides Ascending Leaders. He brings years of business expertise, and experience leading AL small groups, and an optimistic outlook to the board.
Pastor Ryan FaberPella, Iowa
Ryan Faber, a native of Strathroy, Ontario, Canada, was educated at Redeemer University College (Ancaster, Ontario) and Calvin Theological Seminary (Grand Rapids, Michigan). He is an ordained minister of the Christian Reformed Church currently serving as Pastor of Worship and Administration at Faith CRC, Pella, Iowa.
Mr. Luke WoltersHouston, Texas
Luke's day job is as a marketing director for Exxon Mobil. Luke participated in the pilot Spirit's Fruit group and since then has been telling his family about this terrific tool. His training in accounting and experience as a CPA enables him to play a valuable role in insuring that AL is a financially sound organization. He and his wife, Cindy, have two sons.