This is going to sound like a script for a Hollywood movie. I went from homeless to Harvard. I overcame a life of crime and a 3-year addiction with heroin and cocaine. In those three years everything I ever loved and worked for was taken away, from an opportunity to be a professional BMX freestyle rider to potentially becoming a US Marshall to friends overdosing from our drug use to a small time shoplifting scam that spanned all of New Jersey and much more.
I hit rock bottom on several occasions and hurt as many people as I possibly could in the process. On my 15th arrest, I was sentenced to 3 years in a New Jersey State Prison. Instead of going to prison, I was offered an alternative sentence to attend a faith-based rehabilitation program called: Teen Challenge (Now it is for all ages). The program not only saved my life but changed my life forever. Through the power of God at work in the program, I was completely delivered from my addictions, and discovered my calling to be a pastor and start churches.
I graduated the program in 2003 and I was off to Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, PA where I earned two Bachelor degrees—Pastoral Ministry and Theological Studies. Following that, I attended Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, MA where I earned two Master degrees—Biblical Languages and a Masters of Art in Religion with a concentration on Starting New Churches. While at GCTS, I attended Harvard Divinity School for one year to complete one of my Masters. During my graduate work, I authored two books: The Discipleship Dare and Cultural-Deficit Disorder.
In 2010, my wife Elizabeth and I moved to Harford County, Maryland to begin planting churches that extend God’s love and grace to our community, especially to those struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. In the last five years, we have opened four churches. The first was in an old small church building that we inherited in 2011. In April of 2015, we took over a 26-acre church campus which we remolded both the Office and Worship Centers on the property and completely relocated our headquarters there in August of 2016. Two of our locations in public high schools moved in to permanent facilities which includes a 5 acre campus in Port Deposit with 33,000 sq ft (Aug. 2016) and a 2.3 acre campus in Fallston with two buildings (Jan. 2017). Our fourth location meets in Elkton High School. We are in the the process of launching our 5th location in Towson on September 17, 2017. We have an extensive community outreach plan that reaches 25,000+ people each year, and we are expanding to the Lewes, Delaware area as well in the Spring of 2018.
We wanted to share our vision for this new life giving church at a super causal Vision BBQ on July 9 at 6 pm. Pastor Jess Bousa, the founding and lead pastor of Restore Church, will be there to share his story from homeless to Harvard, Restore's vision and values and the next steps.
We will be starting an interactive small group based on Pastor Jess' sermons starting July 16 at the home of Jason and Stephanie Bleau in Lewes, DE. All are welcomed to join us. Please message us at email@example.com if you have any questions, need location for small group or in need of prayer.