Adult Minister, Gregg Tisor's Testimony
by Gregg Tisor
My life began like many others – being born into a loving, Christian home. I was the third-born of four children and the only boy. Growing up with three sisters had its challenges, but I wouldn’t change my family dynamic for the world! As a family, we attended Grand View Baptist Church in Grand Terrace, CA. It was a small family church and it was there that I was first introduced to Jesus. I can still remember being 7 years old, grabbing a response card out of the back of the pew, and checking the box that said, “I’d like to know more about becoming a Christian.” I was so excited to check that box and drop the card into the offering plate as it went by. That excitement soon turned to disappointment when I didn’t get any response. The following week, I turned in another card. That was followed by yet another week of waiting and not getting a reply. It took 5 or 6 times before I got a response! One day, two men from our church (probably elders) came to our house, chatted with me, and I prayed to receive Christ into my heart. Although I am grateful for those men who helped me to understand the decision that I was making, I still get frustrated by slow service.
We continued to attend that church for the next several years until something happened that created a mass exodus in which many families, including mine, left the church. I was still young at the time so I did not know the nature of the problem, but I do remember that the new church that we started attending was a bit farther away. This, coupled with a shift in my dad’s work schedule, caused our family to slowly drift away from a full-fledged church commitment. I was entering Junior High and, in this most important of stages, had no interest in getting connected to the youth group. I still loved Jesus, but we were without a church family. I still lived out my faith as best as I could. I was a pretty good kid, rarely causing any problems. I got along with mostly everybody and my peers all knew that I was a Christian.
I continued living this way through my early adolescent years. I was a relatively good kid who excelled at sports and stayed out of trouble. However, in my last 2 years of high school that started to change. I got more involved with the party crowd. Eventually, I began to change my lifestyle. I turned from what I knew was right and jumped right into the party life. One of the worst parts of this time was that I still professed my faith in Jesus, yet my life reflected something very different. I even found myself treating others poorly, which made me feel even worse than I was acting.
This lifestyle continued into my young adult years. My friends and I partied often. However, the seed was still planted in my heart. I knew what I was doing was far from what God had in mind for my life and He continued to work in my heart. Gradually, I began to change some of my lifestyle choices. Slowly, I began to turn back toward Him, but I wasn’t fully following yet. One of my older sisters and her husband had just bought a house in a different city and offered me a room to stay in. It was just what I needed! My brother-in-law Joe was the first person that I had met who showed me that you can be a Christian and still be cool. He had long hair and played in a rock band. Moving into their house allowed me to see how to live like a man who followed Jesus passionately, loved his wife unconditionally, and used his gifts and abilities to minister to others. As a young man in my early twenties this was an essential life-shaping experience.
While living with my sister and brother-in-law, I was able to experience their joy when they found out that my sister was pregnant. My sister has a condition that prevents her from getting pregnant naturally, so they went through the expense and stress of trying to have a child through en vitro fertilization. This was a long process, so when they finally found out that two of the fertilized eggs “took” to my sister, our family was naturally over-joyed.
My sister’s pregnancy was going along great when suddenly, at ten minutes before midnight on December 31, 1999, my sister went into premature labor. Ten minutes before all of the computers were supposed to go haywire and the world was going to end, my brother-in-law was helping my sister get to the car and rushing out of the driveway to the hospital. The labor was dangerously early, so doctors did everything that they could to keep her from going into full labor. Eventually, after 3 days, her body decided that she was going to have the twins no matter what the doctors did. So they were born. Seth and Ethan were born into this world at only 24 weeks. They were each less than 2 pounds. They fought to hang on. The doctors fought to save them. Our family prayed tirelessly. After just three days of life outside the womb, Seth went home to meet Jesus. Then, five days later, Ethan joined his brother. Needless to say, our family was devastated. I was confused.
If any good can come out of such tragedy, God will use it. Through this horrible experience, I was able to see first-hand how a mature Christian handles unimaginable pain. I saw how Joe and Misti handled the loss. They clung to Jesus and that solidified my desire to walk more closely with Him as well. I also witnessed what God’s design for the Church is truly about as their small group surrounded them in prayer and care. They brought meals for weeks on end. They pooled their funds to gift Misti and Joe with a vacation in order to get away, get some time alone, and begin to put the pieces back together.
After experiencing all of this from the front row, I made a full-fledged commitment to Christ, which included getting baptized. Although I regretted some of my past decisions, I remember thinking that being baptized after recommitting my life to Jesus probably held a greater significance to me than if I had gotten baptized when I was 7 or 8 years old. There was something about the idea of my sin being buried in the depths of the sea and my life being raised with Christ that carried a deep significance for me after experiencing a life of sinful behavior.
I also made the commitment to begin serving in my church, Inland Hills Church in Chino, CA. Remarkably, I found myself helping with the junior high ministry. Whereas most people who volunteer to help in the junior high ministry accidentally signed up on the wrong list and got stuck there, I felt called to be working with that age. In hindsight, perhaps it was the fact that it was the age that I started falling away from church and eventually my walk with God. I had a passion to reach these students for Christ and help them become who God created them to be. It soon became clear to me that this call was a call from God for me to enter into full-time ministry. After three years of wrestling and running from this call, I finally gave in to God’s persistence. I eventually became the director of the Junior High ministry at Inland Hills.
About 2 years later, while participating in a mission trip with my church to Mexico, I hit it off with a beautiful young woman. Perhaps it was the way the Mexican sun was glistening off of my not-so-bulging biceps as we dug a hole for a septic tank, but something made this amazing woman notice me. As we worked on that hole for the next two days, we got to know each other. When we returned from the trip, Jorden and I started a dating relationship that would eventually lead to marriage. On April 18, 2008 I married the love of my life!
Jorden and I shared a love for Jesus and a passion for missions and outreach. I eventually had the joy of adding the role of Missions and Outreach Coordinator to my job at Inland Hills. While serving in this role I led mission trips to the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Katrina relief trips to Mississippi, and organized several outreach events in our local community. Not only did I get the joy-filled experience of helping others, but God also stretched, pulled, and grew my faith in the process.
During this time period I also went to seminary. I attended Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s campus in Brea, CA. Again, God grew my faith. Not only was it a time of faith-building and a great educational experience, but I also made some wonderful relationships. A few of these people have become some of my closest friends. We rely on each other for mutual support and accountability in ministry.
After almost six years on staff at Inland Hills, Jorden and I followed God’s lead to Minnesota. I accepted a Pastoral position at a church in suburban Minneapolis. We looked at it as an exciting adventure. Although the move was going to take us away from our native Southern California, almost all of our family, and most of our friends, we were ready for the challenge. We quickly established relationships with many people in our new church. The area was beautiful, the ministry was going well, and we were adjusting to our new life.
About 6 months after moving to the Midwest, we found out that Jorden was pregnant! That has got to be one of the greatest feelings in the world – the moment when your wife tells you that she is pregnant. We were thrilled at the idea of being parents, and on April 27, 2010 we welcomed our son Asher Luke into our family. We were immediately taken by this little one. It’s hard to imagine any greater love. It also reminded us of what a great sacrifice it was for our Father in Heaven to give up His own Son to die on the Cross on our behalf. There is no doubt that fatherhood instantly gave me an even deeper love for God.
20 months later, we were blessed with another boy -- Evan James, who was born on January 2, 2012. We were so excited to have our two wonderful boys! While this brought us great joy, it has also brought us a growing sense of distress knowing that they are being raised away from their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and long-time friends. Both Jorden and I are very close with our families and had a desire to raise our children in the context of these close relationships. We began to pray for a new adventure – one that would lead us back to Southern California where we would be closer to family.
In the Fall of 2013, I accepted the call to become the Senior Pastor of North Salinas Baptist Church in Salinas, CA. It was once a thriving family church that had gone through a series of bad decisions that led it to the brink of closing its doors. We knew it would take a miracle to save the church. We trusted God with the decision and moved our family back to California.
In 2015 God gave us the sweetest gift imaginable, a little girl that we named Riley Renee. I loved having Asher and Evan, but I had no idea how much I wanted a little girl until I got one! She was pure perfection.
In the midst of adding Riley and living life with 3 small children, it became apparent that the church would not survive the financial position that it had put itself in nearly a decade earlier. There was a very small core of faithful members who had given more than their share in time, talent, and treasure, but God had other plans for them (and us) that did not include North Salinas Baptist Church. Seeing the writing on the wall, I asked for the leadership’s blessing to look elsewhere. They agreed. That gave Jorden and I the ability to discuss where we really wanted to raise our kids. We both knew it was in Minnesota. So, we began to pray for the opportunity to move back.
In the Fall of 2015, we moved back to Minnesota and I began my role as the Adult Minister at NorthRidge Fellowship. The last 5 ½ years has been a joy. We couldn’t be happier to be a part of such a wonderful church body. We have all made great friends through the church and the community and love the life that God has given us.
God is good. All the time. In the good times, the tough times, even in the darkest of times. That is one thing that I am sure of. He has proven to me over and over again that He is in control and He is good. I look forward to seeing how He will use me in the days to come.