College Minister | Email
The worth of Christ! I didn’t grow up knowing it. I called myself a Christian but so did everyone else in my small, south Alabama town. My family didn’t go to church and as a result I grew up knowing nothing about Jesus other than the fact that He died on a cross. Then in late high school a friend was relentless in getting me to study the Bible and explore who God was with him and a few others. It was in this study that I realized I was not a Christian based on biblical standards, but it’s also where I realized what Christ was calling His followers to…and I wanted it but was afraid of it at the same time. After months of wrestling with the Lord I could not escape the grip of His overwhelming grace for me – I knew I needed His forgiveness, I wanted His presence daily, and knew that He was worth all of my life. He calmed my fears of failure to live fully for Him by reminding me that His grace was sufficient even for my weaknesses.
Shortly after going from death to life in Christ I realized that not only was He worth my full surrender but His mission was also worth my full attention and energy. So I committed myself to a life of full-force engagement in the mission of God, however that might look (I had no clue at the time). But during my time as a student at Auburn the Lord showed me the primacy of the college moment in our lives and He made it clear that He wanted me to give myself to making Jesus’ name known among college students and discipling them to leverage all of their lives for the glory of His name as well. At the time I had no clue that would bring me back to Auburn after graduation but I’m sure glad it did! The Lord called my wife, Cassie, and I back to the loveliest village just 2 years after graduation and we’ve been here almost 12 years and have loved every minute of being used by God to disciple Auburn students and send them on to reach countless more for the glory of Christ!
Cassie and I wanted to work in college ministry from the context of a local church because we believe that all that the Lord calls us to should be lived out in the context of a local family of faith, a vibrant Christ-glorifying community and Bible teaching church. We believe in the potential of the local church – that if the church is what its called to be and does what it’s called to do by the power of the Holy Spirit then we will see the things we’ve always dreamed we’d see for the glory of God. And we want more and more students to experience the fullness of Jesus through a community where they are sacrificially loved by others and return such sacrificial love, a community where they are known and know others truly, and a community where they discover and leverage their spiritual gifts for their good and the glory of Jesus’ name here and beyond!
Trace and Cassie have been married since 2004, they have 4 kids – Taylor (11), Gray (8), Micah (7), Cayden (6), and they are in the process of adopting another child from India! The Lord has blessed Trace with the opportunity to receive wonderful theological training from various institutions but he still says that his greatest sanctification and growth in understanding the Father has come from being married and being a dad.
College Ministry Associate |
My story is one of lineage. By that I mean that my story falls in line with the greater story that God has been writing in my biological family over the last century or so, and maybe even longer. God has continued to draw my family members to himself and conform them into the image of Jesus. I had the privilege of being raised in a family that loved Jesus and his church. In fact, God called both of my grandfathers and my father to be vocational ministers of the gospel and to pastor local churches. And it was in that context that I was raised. I identify with Timothy when Paul tells him that “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). This was me. From the time I was born I was taught the Bible, and eventually one day when I was around 11 years old, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and made me wise for salvation, giving me faith in Jesus and taking me from death to life. And since then, the Holy Spirit has been working in my life, progressively making me look more like Jesus.
Over the years of becoming more and more like Jesus by God’s grace, I can look back at my time in college and see where I grew more in my faith than in any other time in my life. I grew in my love for Jesus, his Word, and his church and ultimately it was in my time in college that God gave me a passion to spend my life in the same way that my grandfathers did and my father still does, planting and pastoring local churches.
Because God did so much in my life in college, when I got the opportunity back in 2014 to come on staff in the college ministry at FBCO (which is the church I was a part of when God did so much in my life), I could not turn it down. I wanted to see college students experience the same thing I did. I wanted to see them changed by the gospel, equipped with the gospel, and sent out to take the gospel to the world. And to this day, this is my desire, to see Jesus exalted as college students go from spiritual death to spiritual life and are conformed into his image!
Women’s College Associate | Email
I grew up in Huntsville with a smart, wonderful, godly family who helped usher me into the Kingdom of God as a young girl. I understood I was a sinner and needed Jesus to bring me into the family of God, but as I grew I knew that I was still missing out on joy and satisfaction. So, I took a few tough falls and realized that you need to (surprise!!) surrender your life to the Lord to truly partake in all the goodness of the Christian life. Turns out I had to consistently/constantly put old ways to death in order to let the Spirit bring the ways of Christ to life in me. Aha. Makes sense.
That decision to fully submit happened as a freshman, and throughout my time at Auburn I grew significantly in the word, prayer and faith. I learned so much simply sitting under Trace's teaching (this isn't a plug), through my summers spent in community on mission (this is definitely a plug- go on a summer project with us!), through working on campus and learning how to share Christ in any moment and every way (another plug- join a missional community!! I should be getting paid for this by now.), and through some hard bumps and scrapes along the way. College is the most formative and transformative time in your life- you decide who you will be, what kind of friends you will have, what your spiritual life will be like, etc. We say here that the way that you exit college is how you will live in the work world. So how could I not get in on that action?
Trace asked me to come on board with this excellent, precious and hard-working college team in 2013 and I can't imagine a better job with better people. It has been the greatest honor of my life getting to walk alongside girls as they become women and watching them grow in love for the Lord and his ways!
Communications | Email
I’ve known about Jesus for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a family where church was a priority and we were there all the time. Because of this I heard the gospel continually and it clicked with me when I was around 7. I remember realizing that I was a sinner that fell short and I needed a savior and that was Jesus. But shortly after that I put church on the throne of my heart instead of God himself. Being a good church girl became my identity and I loved that. I learned and grew a little as I got older but it wasn’t until college that the Lord showed me what it looked like for Christ to not only be my savior but be my Lord as well.
My freshman year I roomed with girls from my high school who were the same “good church girl” types and continued to find my identity in that and them. So when those relationships deteriorated, so did everything I thought I knew. I was so lonely and desperate for community and through God’s grace went to FBCO to find it. I got involved in a freshman girls small group where I met girls who loved me so well. Then the game changer: my summer in Port St. Joe. For the first time I had been around people who loved me not because of what I had to offer, but because of our common bond in Christ. It was that summer where God began a spiritual growth spurt that he was faithful to sustain throughout my time at Auburn.
I have had some low low times and some really sweet times. But what hasn’t changed is the faithfulness of this ministry and the faithfulness of the God we serve. He has been unbelievably gracious to me in times of spiritual vibrancy and in times of deep anxiety (I’d love to tell you more about God’s goodness in all that!). That is why I wanted to come on staff and serve here. God does big things through his people in Auburn/FBCO and I couldn’t stand the thought of not being a part of that! I am overwhelmed with gratitude *holds back tears of said gratitude* that God chose me not only to be his child but to use my gifts to serve this ministry and see the name of Christ be known here!
Church Planting | Email
I grew up in the church; actually inside it. We had no home, so for years I ate cheese-its, and animal crackers as full course meals. It was a humble life, but it was my life. No, but seriously; day in and day out I was at the church because my mom was on staff as Children’s Minister. We were first to volunteer, and last to leave. So I had a wonderful example of what it meant to be a servant. My parents were, and are, great godly examples of what it means to strive to be like Jesus. Faults and shortcomings happened, but seeing their heart in it all helped shape my view of Jesus. I grew up learning and knowing what was right in the sight of Jesus, and at the age of 10 I decided I’d like to be a part of what Jesus had done for me. In my life, that was more an exclamation of my knowledge of what I knew to be important and right. I learned later that it was more of a relationship than an exclamation that I was called to live in. At the age of twelve I began a relationship with the Lord, and it was at the age of fifteen that I accepted the call to vocational ministry. And I sure didn’t know what that meant! I just knew the Holy Spirit had convicted me of it, and I was supposed to do it.
Years and years I struggled with the idea of being called to ministry. I ran from it so fast. Jesus had called me into my worst fear and I wasn’t about to walk into that. (lol) Fear of getting onto a stage and preaching, led God into a seven-year chase after me. (you know what I mean) And it was a heck of a chase. The theme was the Lord’s constant unwavering pursuit of me, and my lack of ability to listen. I remember constantly being blown away at the love I felt from the Father during that time.
My junior year of college He directly answered another one of my prayers, and my world was rocked. At that moment the brokenness and comfort I felt at one time was beyond emotion I could describe through text. (ask me about it in person) Right then I signed up to follow Christ wherever He wanted me. I accepted an internship for a youth group that summer. (this was a big moment because I had told them “no” the previous summer) I went on my way expecting that summer to define my ministry role, giving me clarity on what my career path in ministry would look like. I left that summer a little broken, and a little lost. I thought youth ministry would be my role, but it didn’t seem that way after the summer ended.
Confused and wandering, I walked through my senior year volunteering in FBCO’s youth ministry and fully expecting to serve with them in some way. I began meeting with them becoming very involved their ministry. I was headed to Opelika to meet with them when Trace texted me to ask what my plans were after graduation. This was strange because I had previously talked and prayed about doing residency, and Jesus said no because my desire was to do what I wanted, and not laying down my life for what He wanted from me. I was content with that. And Trace knew that. So this meeting was a little weird. But, I was leading a missional community at the time, so he wanted to make sure I’d be around to continue, or replace me. I sat in his office, and we talked about my plans and He began to pour his heart out about simple churches and in a moment I saw all my struggle, discontent, and confusion come into place. Everything that I had been SO confused and deeply troubled about came together. It was like the Holy Spirit had definitely spoken to both of us in that moment. It was really cool. When I left the office, I knew that the Lord was calling me into church planting with the college ministry. And here I am, on this website. majic.
Hosts | Email
After years of researching and questioning I ended up not believing. I didn’t believe He existed and so I put my trust in myself and believed that the world could offer fulfillment and meaning.
After years of disbelief and running from God, I found myself worn-down, struggling with anxiety and depression, aimless in direction and chained by what I now know to be sin. But then, I moved into an apartment complex in my junior year of college where unbeknownst to me, I was smack-dab in the middle of a strong Christian community. Over the course of the first semester I got to know my neighbors, who bewilderingly cared deeply and lovingly about me and wanted to pray for me and invited me to church! (I asked myself, who am I to say no?)
Over Christmas break of that year I went home and while at the Christmas-Eve service at my family’s home church I heard a sermon that so deeply felt as though my heart had a laser pointed at it and that every word was melting away barriers of disbelief and pain. God granted me faith that night and I placed my life unconditionally in his hands, I accepted Christ into my heart and asked for his forgiveness and that he would take the burden of life off of me. I prayed like a mad man for weeks that the Lord would help me draw in to himself. He rose far above and beyond my wildest imagination.
Since that day I have sought the Father daily, he has provided community that I didn’t think possible, he has sanctified and healed me, provided restful peace and abundant joy and He has protected and guided me by His spirit. He has become my greatest gold! He has used my story and life as a testimony to others, it is a tremendous privilege to get to expand his Kingdom and be a part of his redeeming work in the hearts of the lost. Praise be to God for His sovereignty, abundant grace and mercy. “The size of grace, beyond anything I can grasp but it grabs hold of me. So I hold on tight and hug it back. Surrounded by grace that surpasses the past. Beyond anything we could hope for or ask.” – The Size of Grace
Outreach | Email
I don't remember a day that I didn't know Jesus's name. That's how it is for most people in the South, I suppose. There are churches on nearly every block and I grew up well-acquainted with the inside of mine.
When I was seven years old I said to the world, "I believe that Jesus is the one true God!" And I'll describe my life since then like this. When you take a picture with a camera, the photo you end up with is accurate, sure. But it's only one small frame of the whole landscape. That mountain you see on paper was really there, but you're also missing the grandioseness of the entire range. So it was with my understanding of God. I had a tiny, snapshot understanding of His greatness. The things I knew from childhood on to high school graduation were true - that He created the earth, that we as humans had rebelled against him, and that anyone who believed Jesus was God would be saved. Oh, but I was yet to understand His grace. I tried and tried and tried to do "good things", because I believed that if God were Creator, this yielded some kind of response out of his creations. But did I understand how cheap my efforts were in comparison to His ACTUAL perfection? No. No, that didn't come till much much later. My frame of understanding has been ever-widening since then to include more of the true, and better, picture.
Missional Communities | Email
I accepted and believed in Jesus when I was 9 years old, but it wasn’t until a few years later that I understood this meant my life was no longer my own, but His, and that this wasn’t a burdensome realization but joyful and freeing! It was when I was 15 that I felt like the Lord asked something of me for the first time, that He asked me to choose yes to Him and His desires over my own - it’s a longer story, that was a huge deal to a 15 year old, but saying yes to the Lord over what I felt would please others and protect my name and make the most sense shifted the trajectory of my life completely. (& praise the Lamb that these are 3 deep rooted struggles I so desire to see people find freedom in, and praise the Lamb I have such an open door to do that in this job!)
It was later this same year that the Lord put the desire on my heart to spend my life committed to ministry in whatever form, which at the time crippled me because my definition of ministry was so so small, and my view of my own worth and adequacy was probably even smaller. But the Lord is good and patient and knows me so dang well, and here we are!
He pursued me before I even saw my need. The Lord so graciously gave me Auburn, the good and the bad, when I didn’t even ask for it (and had never even stepped foot here). He gave me community and family here when I didn’t even know the beauty and depths of Him I would see in it (will talk to you all day about the gift discipleship has been/is!), and so graciously gave me nursing school, 2 of the hardest, most trying, most refining and stretching years when I didn’t even know if I wanted it, but definitely knew it wouldn’t look how people expected it to on the other side. Since I first heard about it, the Residency was so clearly something the Lord intended, but I can also confidently say that the Lord didn’t waste the waiting and training that needed to happen leading up to it. For me, that training looked like getting a certain degree, with a certain group of people, for such a time as this. It’s an avenue I would have never chosen myself, but has proven so pivotal to being a part of this team, which leaves all the more room to boast in Him.
What I’ve learned (what I’ll probably never stop learning the depths of) is that He’s for me, He’s for His children, He delights in and desires communion with us and He’s not a God of confusion that hinders this from happening; He’s always working for our good and His glory and those two aren’t separate but one in the same. And I’ve seen this time and time again in life alongside Him. Yes to Him isn’t always easy or practical - two things I’ve learned my flesh is very prone to - but I would do every yes over and over again, hopefully more willingly than I did the first time around, joys and sorrows, because He’s always good and always worth it.