Get to know me.

My life story starts off rockier than most. My father had a wife and three kids, had an affair which produced me, and then had one more kid with his wife before she found out about me being born. Both my parents struggled with their mental health, with addiction and with loving themselves. I grew up struggling with my own biracial identity, poverty and multiple forms of abuse. My families brokenness prevented them from being able to care for themselves, much less their children.My earliest memories are of loneliness, abuse and neglect. My youngest brother was born with autism and other physical and intellectual disabilities when I was 9 years old. My youngest sister followed 9 years after that. Their vulnerability really revealed and drew out and shaped my heart for serving the most vulnerable among us.

When I was a teenager I was consumed with shame, inadequacy, loneliness, lack of identity, and a rage inside me that was very much directed at God.. As a result, I grew up with a strained and painful relationship with Jesus. I went to church, I set up chairs, I vacuumed, I knew the bible at least as well as all the private school church kids. So I couldn’t figure out why God didn’t show up and protect us, and heal my brother, why we were homeless and hungry. I very much hated God, I walked away, and then God came and got me. I crashed one night at a friend’s house and when we woke up that Sunday morning, his youth leader was outside with a van ready to take us to bible study. Somehow this man talked me into getting in his van and getting donuts. It took a few weeks of wrestling with God but eventually I submitted my life to Jesus.

I started off in Children’s ministry, left for a few years to help with a church plant that didn’t take root as a church, but became a forever family for me. I went back to my original church and found that my elementary kids had become middle and high school aged kids, and I jumped in there to serve them. Eventually I felt the call to Young Life which is an evangelism ministry to local schools that seeks to serve “the furthest out kid”. After volunteering for7 years, I was hired as staff. I run the Young Life Program at Reseda High School and upwards of 100 kids of different cultures and faiths, or no faith at all choose to come and play games and eat pizza and hear about Jesus.

One Sunday morning I felt a “tug” at my heart to come to the Valley Vineyard and see if this church was a place I could partner with to care for the students at Reseda. I had no idea that some friends and youth from Reseda High were part of the church, and realized God has been grafting me into this vine fora long time.

Joe can be contacted by email at: