Amy and I met in an Old Testament Poetry class at college when I was a senior and she was a junior. However, it was more than three years later before I asked her on our first date — so that I could show her photos from my spring 2006 trip to northeast Cambodia. Amy (formerly Sutter) and I married in the summer of 2008, and the Lord has blessed us with three children: Becca (11/2009), Isaiah (6/2012), and Anna Grace (4/2014).
Josh: I grew up in a Christian home, going to church and Sunday school, and hearing the Bible at home regularly. At the age of 5 I told my mom that I wanted to be saved, and she helped me pray to confess my sin and call on God for salvation. I was baptized to confess my faith later in the year. Towards the end of high school I came to understand a couple things: first, the assurance of my salvation should be coming from an active life of faith, not merely from a memory of a decision; second, faith in God is relational, not only intellectual, and God’s purpose is to grow Christlikeness in me as His child. I now have a strong assurance of being united to Christ through faith.
Amy: I grew up in a Christian home. From an early age my parents taught me truths from the Scriptures. Around the age of 4 or 5 I had a nightmare about Satan and hell. This led me to talk with my mother about salvation, and at that time I confessed my sin and asked Christ to rescue me. I was baptized several years later. I do not rely on the “experience” I had as a small child for assurance in my salvation. As Josh states, the assurance of my salvation comes from an active life of faith that continues to grow and produce Christlike fruit.
Our calling and preparation
Both Amy and I grew up with parents who are in full-time Christian service, so vocational ministry always seemed like a natural choice for both of us. In high school I told God that I would be a preacher if He wanted me to (though I didn’t particularly want to!). In college I pursued an English major with the idea that it would be a good foundation for seminary. During my college years I was increasingly drawn to missions through associations with missionaries, including the J.D. Crowley family. I visited the Crowleys in Ratanakiri province, Cambodia, in 2002 (the summer before my senior year in college) along with Brian Kane and Jeremy Farmer. This confirmed my interest in both missions and Cambodia as a field for ministry.
My interest in language led to my pursuing an MA in Bible Translation at Bob Jones University (where I got my BA in English), and I took another trip to Cambodia in 2006. This served as additional confirmation of a God-given interest in this field. I earned a PhD in linguistics (The University of Texas at Arlington) to increase my qualifications for undertaking a ministry with a major language component. I wrote my dissertation on a Vietnamese dialect of Jarai, the language we plan to focus on in Cambodia. In addition to giving me a knowledge of Jarai grammar (which is similar for Vietnamese and Cambodian Jarai), my dissertation research has enabled me to a make professional contacts with Jarai speakers in the Dallas area.
When Amy and I married, she expressed a strong desire to be involved with me in foreign missions. She had spent time previously in Suriname assisting a Wycliffe Bible translator, and she had also taught English in Macedonia on a missions team. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Music Education, her master’s degree in Bible, and her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction (all from Bob Jones University). She has constantly encouraged me to keep pressing forward with our goal of being missionaries in Cambodia.
God has confirmed his call by giving us the desire to serve as missionaries in Cambodia. Additionally, other missionaries in Cambodia have expressed the desire for us to join them.