Our Story and Vision

 Tree Of Life Church is part of Grace Bible Ministries: Texas. There are currently 43 GBM churches in central and eastern Texas.  Our Superintendent is Curtis Baker who resides in Corsicana. Cheryl and I began serving in public ministry in 1979.  At that time we were conducting evangelistic seminars on the hidden dangers of secular rock music in churches, auditoriums, television, radio, schools and colleges.  Over a period of four years we gave over 300 presentations and saw literally thousands of young people give their hearts to the Lord in salvation or rededication.  During this season we attended Christ For the Nations Bible school in Dallas.  We are both CFNI graduates and were married the last day of school on May 8, 1981.  Cheryl is a native South African and my hometown is Wichita, Kansas. I furthered my education at Southwestern Assembly of God college in Waxahachie, receiving a Bachelor of Science in 1985.  I also attended Wichita State University for two years.  In October of 1985 we moved to Durban, South Africa with our 3-year-old son; Daniel.  He was born October 8, 1982.  While there, we served as missions pastors at Durban Christian Centre pastored by Fred Roberts.  This church has grown to over 10,000 in attendance and was one of the first multi-racial churches in that nation formerly known for apartheid.  While in South Africa we enjoyed four years of fruitful ministry helping to train pastors, plant churches, hold evangelistic crusades, establish children’s ministries, teach in Bible schools and work in various building projects.  Our daughter, Kristen, was born there Feb. 1, 1987.

In December, 1989, we moved back to the States settling in Rockwall, Texas.  For six months we served as Prayer Pastors with Larry Lea Ministries.  They were hosting large “Breakthrough” prayer meetings in major cities across America at that time.  In August, 1990 we planted Church On the Rock, Wichita in my home town and served as Sr. Pastors there until January, 1994.  During that time our daughter, Sarah, was born on October 22, 1991.
Our family relocated to Austin, February, 1994, and began attending Shoreline Christian Center (formerly Christian Faith Center) that fall. In 1997 we became missions pastors for that church and also joined the Global Advance ministry team, based in Rockwall. While serving in this capacity we were privileged to join seasoned pastors and ministers overseas several times a year to help conduct “Frontline Shepherd Conferences” which are for pastors and Christian leaders in the rural areas of poorer nations. I primarily traveled to nations in Africa, Asia and the former Soviet republic. Dr. David Shibley; founder and president of Global Advance; has a goal to train, equip and encourage 1 million Christian leaders. So far we have reached over 250,000. Cheryl and I also led teams to Mexico, Malawi, Botswana and Kenya for short-term missions experiences and outreach.  I also traveled extensively across America as a guest speaker. Cheryl and I began serving Tree of Life Church as senior pastors in March, 2003.
Our vision is to represent the fullness of ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ and the early church established by His disciples.  It is our desire to see all areas functioning in this local church.  Please allow me to give a brief overview of each area of our ministries here at TOLC.
WORSHIP:  We believe that God is worthy of praise and worship.  In the Psalms and throughout the Bible He commands us to make a joyful noise, to clap our hands, to shout, dance, weep, bow, using our mouths and instruments to praise and worship Him.  Praise songs speak of the hand of God; His wonderful acts among us. Worship songs seek His face and are love songs to Him.  We believe that praise and worship not only glorifies God but conducts war in the heavenlies.  It unleashes confusion and battle against the powers of darkness and it plows the hearts of believers before they hear the message at most services.  It also magnifies the Lord which diminishes the believer’s problems and challenges in life.  We give the Holy Spirit full authority to direct us in our times of praise and worship.
PASTORAL:  If you look at your left hand the finger which holds the wedding ring represents the pastor.  He is near the heart of God and helps keep the bride of Christ in right relationship with each other and God.  We believe the pastor is valuable in the body of Christ and should have the smell of sheep on them.  The good shepherd cares for the wounded, the sick, the needy and the broken hearted.  He also feeds the healthy so they may grow and reach their full potential.   We believe in returning phone calls and keeping in contact with our congregation and help them to “lie down in green pastures” as they enjoy their journey with the Lord and His people.
FAMILY:  A nation, a community and a church is only as strong as its families.  We honor the marriage covenant and the children that are fruit from that.  Our babies, pre-schoolers, children, youth, singles and couples are all precious to us with their individual needs and desires.  We are doing our best to provide responsible and anointed care for each one of these age groups.  We are also working toward building a strong net of relationships through Life Groups, men’s and women’s ministry, youth and children’s church and other events.  This net will help us receive whatever harvest the Lord brings to us in a world full of lonely, hurt, abused and needy people.
HEALING:  We believe that healing is for today and that God wants us to be free and whole in spirit, soul and body.  We have already been privilege to see many people testify of God’s healing power touching their body after laying on of hands and prayer at our services.  We have a team of prayer partners who pray for individuals most Sunday mornings during the service.  Many of those being prayed for are in need of healing.  We also believe in inner healing.  This is a soulish realm where God heals and binds up the wounds of the hurt, abused or tormented among us.  God can heal your body, your emotions, your marriage, your relationships and your mind.  He wants us to take His healing power beyond our sanctuary to the people of the world as well.
TREASURE:  Tree of Life Church is governed by the senior pastor and a financial committee.  We believe the tithe is for today, in fact in the New Covenant all we have belongs to God.  God’s promise to us is that if we give, it will be given to us, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.  The books of our church are kept by the church secretary who also makes all deposits and issues most checks.  Any check written for over $200 needs the board’s approval.  We believe our church should also pay tithe and we are currently helping to support missions and outreach ministries as well as Grace Bible Ministries’ headquarters with our tithe.  Our books are open for inspection.  Beyond the tithe, we also consistently help with benevolent needs for those who belong to this church.
PROPHETIC:  We believe the prophet is a valuable office of the 5-fold ministry mentioned in Ephesians 4.  The prophet is like the index finger which points the way, gives direction, and even brings correction.  Throughout the Old Testament God used prophets with the kings and priests to bring the word of the Lord to Israel to bless and direct them.  In the New Testament church the prophet Agabus is mentioned in Acts as a member of the ministry team.  Cheryl and I have a measure of prophetic anointing upon us.  This is largely due to impartations from prophetic teams we’ve been exposed to over the past two decades of ministry.  We will have people who are very strongly prophetic as guest ministers at least twice a year so that they might bring this impartation to our praise team and the people of our congregation as a benefit to the Body of Christ.  Prophets do much more than give “personal words” to individuals. Many of them are able to confirm and activate giftings and callings in believers as well as bring a prophetic impartation to a church.  It’s our desire to see revelations, visions, words of knowledge and prophetic utterances come forth as a means of edifying, instructing or encouraging those who attend our services.
EQUIPPING:  The little finger represents the teacher since it is the one which brings balance to the Body of Christ and digs out the truth.    God’s word is clear that each believer has gifts, talents and callings on their lives for works of service prepared in advance for them to do.  We don’t want to be a church with a high unemployment rate.  The way you realize your potential is by serving in your gifting to humanity.  We want to help you discover, then sharpen and utilize your God-given talents and abilities to expand His kingdom on the earth.  In the Great Commission of Matthew 28 God has called us to make disciples, not just converts, of all nations (ethnic people groups) to fulfill this great call.
EVANGELISM:  The evangelist is represented by the middle finger which is the longest and most far-reaching one.  The evangelist has a heart for the lost and the needy.  This is why you will always see an abundance of salvations, healings and miracles at evangelistic meetings.  Many Christians believe that the evangelist should do all the work in reaching the lost but this is not the case.  Like the other 5-fold ministers, the evangelist is called to equip the saints.  There’s no such gift as “the gift of evangelism” in the Bible.  We are all called to witness and try to reach the lost for Jesus.  We are currently establishing a food and clothing ministry whose main objective is to reach the lost for Christ.  There are other outreaches being planned.  By far, the most successful way to evangelize is for every believer to reach those in their sphere of influence with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ themselves.
PRAYING:  Nothing of significance happens for God without prayer.  Jesus gave us an example of the importance of prayer through His own life while on the earth.  We have corporate intercessory prayer before each Sunday service upstairs beginning at 9:15.  We also meet the first Thursday of each month in the sanctuary at 7:00 pm for prayer.  This will increase in the future.    Prayer is the key to binding and loosing, to receiving direction, and for experiencing the break-throughs we need for our church members, our community, nation and the world.
APOSTOLIC:  The apostle is represented by the thumb.  It is the only digit able to touch the “heads” of the other four fingers (ministry giftings).  We see the apostle functioning in the New Testament as one who was a father in the ministry.  They would help lay the foundations for new churches and ground the believers in doctrine and theology.  Apostles are especially capable in the area of bringing order to a church.  Signs followed the apostles and they usually were present with the prophets.   We don’t believe a person is an apostle simply because they have founded a church or ministry or have pioneered a work overseas.  They should have the fruit of spiritual sons and daughters as well as the already mentioned attributes of setting churches in order and establishing doctrine.  We will have several apostolic ministries as guests in our church from time to time.
If you have any questions concerning our church, its vision and leadership then please don’t hesitate to contact us at 512-990-3444 or email us. We hope we can be a blessing to you and your family.