Welcome to our new LIFE! …and where to find us now!
With the sudden loss/closing of FBC (and the core of my identity!) and with all 4 of our daughters now grown and having their own, it’s suddenly time for us to pivot and make a fresh start at 60 and '50 something'.
Faced with health challenges that present the proverbial “if you just had X amount of time to live -what would you do?” Like an adult make a wish thing.
I would…take the time to share what God has done in our lives over these last 35 amazing years for the benefit and encouragement of others and help people get their own stories in their own struggles.
Having seen God guide and provide for us in hundreds of not only cool and dramatic ways- but truly fun and funny- this may be our new… "ministry"? maybe, let’s call it our “new thing”, our maybe… "The Adventures of Chuck and Kelly: past, present, and future!"
This is truly, suddenly, dramatically, the start of our new life/season and this website is our attempt to document, share and be part of people’s lives- interactively. (With help from my kids.)
On this site we hope to connect with old and new friends and be used by God and people to make the most of what we have experienced and carry. Kelly and I will be trying to share some of the hundreds of stories here which show the ways we have walked with God – in real life. Some are sermons and some just stories, but our hope is to be a catalyst for others’ adventures with God.
Our journey has had some incredible ups and downs, storms and stories, tests and testimonies, stuff even I have trouble believing sometimes! But it’s always been fun and I want people to know; walking with God can be fun and should be an adventure!
Who We Are
A little bit more about Chuck and Kelly
If you are here and don’t know who we are… How did that happen?
Anyway, Kelly and I are from California. We met at UC Davis in the early 80’s, got married, moved to Japan and started a business (FBC), a family (4 daughters), and a few Christian/community groups/projects.
We 'lived' full time and fully engaged in the foreign community in Kobe and greater Japan for 17 years. Then, since 2002, I have commuted and split my time 50/50 between California and Kobe. Recently, I closed down our 33-year business legacy (FBC); our 4 girls grew up, got married and have their own kids; and Kelly and I are focusing - when the room stops moving - on our main passion: sharing our experience of God's presence and 'presents' in as concrete, authentic and down to earth a way as we can and facilitating the same for others!
Kelly and I both graduated from our home church, Antioch Church of Long Beach, School of Ministry and are also ordained there.
The Long Story
My (Chuck’s) Faith Journey
Born in 1959 in Jacksonville NC. Reborn in 1970 in Falls Church, VA
Raised in a non-Christian home by academically oriented parents
Dad went to UCB and Mom went to Stanford
Dad was a career marine officer and mom a schoolteacher
Dad drank a lot and was mostly absent from home till he was reborn and recovered in early 80’s
In 1969 I had a unique experince where I felt God came to me in a dream at a time of personal crisis and give me a proposal. I felt He said I was now old enough to decide – would I live independently or allow HIM to be my father and I would be His son.
At that time my own father was not well and my mother was pursuing eastern religions. I felt strongly I would become a chaplain or pastor. It felt sure.
In 1971 we moved from the DC area to Carlsbad, CA. I was starting 7th grade and started going to a youth group at a “high church” Episcopal church in our area that had been hot with revival - an odd combination of about half rich old people and the other half the original hippy Jesus people (bare foot, tongue talking, long hair and super excited about spiritual life). I loved it but did not have another church experience to really compare it to until later. I had another unique supernatural experience at the end of that year where I felt God confirmed that my path would be to be a “pastor/minister.”
I was an acolyte/ altar boy and we did high church but also went to a mid-week prayer and healing service at the Catholic church that was so amazing that as High School kids we chose to go because it was so incredible. I was baptized in the holy spirit and started to teach Sunday school. I have always loved kids and during my High School years I took a handful of elementary kids and created a program which grew by about 10 times. I made custom lessons and rewarded work done with a currency which the kids could spend on items I stocked in a store I created - it was amazingly fun. My senior year I became HS president but carried on with Sunday School because of how fun it was.
In 1978 I started college at UC Davis, where I managed to stretch a 4-year education into 8 years by going to school every other year. One of these “gap years” was to France and Israel - and this greatly shaped my faith. I had a full ride scholarship to UC Davis from the Boys Club, USA, and I asked permission to take this year after freshman year for “Spiritual Growth”. They allowed it and it was an amazing year. I had decided to have no set plans and just go as God guided and bought a one-way ticket. He took me to a very Catholic family in France where I lived and worked and studied Catholicism in French and Latin - old school! I then went to Israel where I lived on a Kibbutz and studied Hebrew and Judaism and Communism! I was forever changed by both places and what I saw in each. I saw a bigger God and a bigger family.
While in college, I lost my way and had a couple of bad years – I never doubted God or His presence but I just lost my way along the path. When I recovered I met Kelly and we moved to Japan where the really exciting stuff started- in 1985.
We used to attend Kobe Union Church (KUC) in the morning and a small church group in the evenings, which later became known as KIBC (Kobe Int’l Baptist Church), which started as a group of missionaries meeting in the evening to recover from their own church in the morning! Then we started an afternoon home church for those we met who needed a new place and a more spirit led experience.
I worked for Time-Life traveling around Japan for our first few years as an instructor for Japanese business-people who would be moving to the US - which morphed into a program which I created/authored/developed and then sold. It became their top selling program and financed my next adventure.
In 1987 we started FBC (taking actual orders from fall 1988) as a “spiritual adventure” to see if prayer and faith worked in business, as well as other parts of life….and it did. We grew from the two of us in our bedroom to roughly 60 workers and 6 million US$ in sales in about 6 years. We saw, what we called at the time, “a wonder a week and a miracle a month” - literally. Dozens of people came to know the God we served and Who was there daily to talk to and help us (See article linked below - Japan Harvest Winter 2003 “No storm No Story”).
From about 1989-1995 we were in an article or on TV about an average of once a month. We had built not only a business but rather more of a community - and God was key to it all. I got to be part of the MBA programs at USC, UC Berkeley, and INSEAD (in France) as a case study and guest speaker; and our business was chosen as a regular case study, paired with P&G. I was a guest speaker around Japan and even represented Japan's Kansai region in the US. I was asked to join the G7 with president Clinton in 1992 with a follow-up CNN feature story on our outreach to Siberia- heady times but, again, I can say I lost my way but so subtle no one could really see and was tough for me to see as well.
By the way, along the way, we had 4 daughters “made in Japan with US Parts and labor”! And always, always, had at least one or two random people living with us.. always a FULL house…
In about 1990-1994 we became local key players in outreach to Russia and Mongolia, getting featured on CNN and sending hundreds of cars to Russia and visiting and teaching/speaking in both places. We nearly adopted some Russian babies and in 2001 almost moved to Mongolia- great adventures- great stories!
In 1995, after the Hanshin Earthquake, we had 30 people for 30 days as we readjusted to post quake life- that part was fun.
In 1998 we hit a crisis point in the business. I probably needed 50 people/staff not 60, 6 key managers not 10 – we were in trouble. Sales hit an all time high… and we lost money. God sent two of my best friends to help us and with them and God we carried on both ministry and business intertwined. I also went to the pastor who married us for advice as I knew he had been in both business and ministry, and I knew he heard from God. He came back after 3 days and said he felt God had said “You should be ordained”. Hmm, not what I expected! But…. So, I was – at his church in Lake Tahoe. It felt real and right, but not formal in a worldly sense and I did not know what to do with it. I felt I had been in ministry since we came to Japan through FBC and the community...but what now?
Then, in May 1999 we attended a bible study at a “Rokko island home church” a small group of expats and local Japanese. I needed serious prayer, and someone had said “go and let them pray for you” - so we did. At that prayer meeting a Japanese woman from Hawaii prayed over us in some kind of other language. She did not speak much English and no other language other than Japanese but…she prayed over us in Chinese. We knew this because a Chinese expat wife was present. She said it was in her dialect, and she wrote down what was said. Wow. So, long story short, we felt obliged to return to that little group and that's when we stopped going full-time to KUC - but we juggled both. We’d often go to first service at KUC and then race down for the “Rokko island church” service, which they asked me to co-lead. Amazing things happened there in that little group. Healings, deliverances, so many people received the Lord - in this woman’s living room - in the church with no name…in Japan! It was amazing.
In 2002 we “moved back” to the US (Davis, CA), and shortly after that we moved to Redding, CA where we attended Bethel Church and learned a lot and saw a lot and had a huge house with tons of guests from all over the world, as well as lots of kids - at one point we had 10 kids…plus their friends. Yup. We did both formal, but mostly informal, foster care. What we got most from our time there was a sense that we were not the only ones who saw what we had seen and done in Japan - there were people who did the same everywhere and…that many people were attracted to the supernatural and spiritual, and some were just weird- well, that was good to see too!
In 2011 we moved to Long Beach, CA to take over running the FBC USA office. We moved to Long Beach and have loved the colorful diverse earthy environment. We live downtown and are surrounded by what many call “the hood” and homeless and gangs. Our fostering experience transferred over well. For the last 10 years we have had maybe a dozen people at a time living with us in our little 2-bedroom condo and/or at our office warehouse. It was not a plan and its not right in many ways but….
At the same time, we started attending a super fun and energized black church Antioch Church of Long Beach (ok, maybe 97%) – the largest in Long Beach – about 2,000 members and about a dozen white people when we first started there. Now maybe 40. We connected well with the leadership - we love them - and I was put on the ministry team to help at services, communion, funerals, prayer counseling, sick visits - very organic and natural. We then attended their school of ministry and graduated in 2015 and then were ordained. Since then I was offered a full-time position to do outreach but kept it as a side item along with running both offices of FBC.
In 2012 I was diagnosed with cancer. I have not done any treatments and am believing God is healing me and I like this passage:
Daniel 3:17-18 “If the God whom we serve exists, then He is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden statue you have set up.” …”
Now I am loving being back at KUC and feel God has a plan for us here.
UPDATE November 2020
This was written a year ago and since then the big update is our closing of the businesses and going bankrupt and me entering hospice care and in November…I lost most of my hearing- say what!? No clue. So, bit challenging BUT/AND I have had more quality time with God, more words for people, more dreams than any other time in my life and although it seems it’s all “coming to an end” I feel closer to God than ever and that we are more effective in our counseling, prayers for people, sermons, Bible studies, than ever before.
I have been co-leading/pastoring KUC from the US since March 2020. So, I genuinely am excited to see what the next chapter looks like and want to be sure I do my part!