I grew up in the 80’s wanting to be Luke Skywalker. After realizing that this wasn’t a realistic career choice for me, I eventually settled on optometry. The army helped pay my way, and it was in the 4 years that I was in the army that I discovered that I can do hard things (although sometimes it hurts).
I met and married my beautiful and amazing wife, not long after my time in the army. She is one of the kindest, most compassionate people I know, and being married to her has helped round out some of my sharper edges. I have learned so much about loving others and building better relationships from her. I definitely “out-kicked my coverage” when I married her.
After many years of checking eyes and fitting glasses, my life took an unexpected turn when I discovered the issue of sex trafficking at a conference I attended. As a follower of Christ, I recognized that Christ was asking me to serve in this area.
For several years I volunteered both within my church and with an NGO doing anti-trafficking work. During these years, my passion for this area kept growing, and eventually God gave me the opportunity to jump into full time ministry in this area. It is a hard thing to leave friends and family and the comforts of home to do this ministry full time and especially cross-culturally. But it’s also deeply important for men to add their voices to the chorus of people crying out against trafficking across the world.
Sex trafficking is specifically a men’s issue. If men stopped buying sex, sex trafficking would go away. I believe that men have the potential to be better than what our mainstream culture gives us credit for. I also believe that men want to be a part of something important. That’s why my heart is to speak to men about the harms of pornography and sex trafficking and the great potential we have to make a lasting impact against sexual exploitation.
Favorite TV Shows: Stranger Things, Battlebots, America Ninja Warrior, also several sports (particularly: College football, College Basketball, College Softball, NFL, World Cup Soccer, Olympics)
Favorite Food: Lasagna or Pad See Ew (too close to call)
Favorite Books: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter series, Ready Player One, Dawn of Wonder
Favorite Movies: Star Wars (original trilogy), almost all the Marvel movies, Potter movies, Lord of the Rings, ...notice a trend yet?
Melissa grew up in Casper, Wyoming. God used her love of the outdoors and a passion for sports to draw her to Himself, and she committed her life to Christ at the age of 15 at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camp. Melissa continued to pursue her love of sports as a collegiate volleyball athlete, and she grew in her understanding of God through Christian mentoring and fellowship on her team.
After college, Melissa pursued a physical therapy degree at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. While still in school, God opened the door for her to serve children with developmental disabilities in Macau, China for six weeks in 1999. It was during this time that God grew in Melissa a heart for the unreached & marginalized of society, and for serving in cross-cultural ministry. She jumped at an opportunity to return to Macau and serve in the same capacity again for an entire year in 2006.
After returning to the states, Melissa continued to practice physical therapy while completing a Graduate Diploma in Intercultural Studies from Western Seminary and seeking God’s direction for future ministry. In 2012, Melissa attended a workshop at the Justice Conference on the reality and scope of the sex trafficking issue. She knew God was calling her to engage. So, she returned to school yet again, studying the sex trafficking issue extensively through her Masters in Global Development and Justice program at Multnomah University.
Melissa completed a 300-hour internship at Village Baptist Church (VBC), researching the ways that churches can engage in anti-trafficking initiatives. She helped establish the VBC Anti-trafficking Team, which is dedicated to creating awareness of the issue and mobilizing believers toward engagement. She also started leading regular anti-trafficking prayer meetings. Working under the direction of WorldVenture’s Global Director of Anti-trafficking Initiatives, she began facilitating awareness classes and trainings at Village and other local churches. In addition, after attending several mentor trainings, she began mentoring a trafficking survivor in 2016.