I was born the third of six children to Scott and Debbie Christiansen. My dad was a pastor; so, of course, I grew up in church and heard the Gospel regularly. I had made a profession of faith and been baptized by the age of seven, but the truth was that my trust was more in my prayers than in Christ. I rightly began to doubt my salvation at the age of nine, and shortly after, I decided to make sure I was saved. I went forward at the end of a Sunday night service and prayed, this time trusting Christ alone. I was baptized the same night.
When I was twelve, I went to my first Youth Conference in Hammond, Indiana, where I heard Dr. Jack Hyles preach, resulting in my surrendering to full-time Christian service. That decision was strengthened the following year when I went to Teen Convention in Longview, Texas. I did not know which avenue of full-time Christian service I was supposed to take, but as I grew older, I just began to assume that I would be a pastor or a missionary, as they were the options that most appealed to me.
I went to college and started with a pastoral major, but I decided to switch my major to missions in the second semester of my freshman year. I finished my bachelor’s degree in four years, and on my pastor’s advice, I began a master’s degree in education. It was while I was working on my master’s degree that I met and started dating my future wife Abbie. We had been dating for a year when I began a two-year internship at First Baptist Church. The first year and a half, I interned for Danny Brannon, the director of the Chapel Ministry, which was my ministry for most of my college experience. I interned for FBMI my last semester. When I was finished with college, Abbie and I were married on August 3, 2013.
I was born and raised in a Christian home. My parents, Tim and Kathy Cortopassi, made sure that my four siblings and I attended a Christian school and that we went to church as a family every service. Since I grew up in church, I heard the Gospel often. I may have been saved at the age of seven. I remember my mom talked to me during church on a Sunday morning. I prayed that morning and got baptized that evening.
Sometime later, my family watched the movie Left Behind. I got scared, wondering if I were really saved or not. I went through several years not sure if I was going to Heaven but assuming that I was because I had prayed with my mom and gotten baptized.
In seventh grade, I started going to Teenage Soul Winning. I started leading people to Christ but still was not sure if I was saved or not. In November 2001, I sat on my bed with my Bible, and I looked up the verses for the Romans Road. I went through the verses as if I were leading someone else to Christ, but I was doing it for my own benefit. I wanted to settle my doubt once and for all. I prayed, accepting Christ as my only way to Heaven. When I finished, I felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders. Since that time, I have not doubted my salvation.
Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a missionary. It was with that in mind that I went to Hyles-Anderson College and got my bachelor’s degree in elementary education. At that time I wanted to be a missionary to China, so I tried to take a missions trip there three different times. Every one of the trips was canceled. After trying for the third time, I really felt that God had closed the door to my going to China.
I did go on a missions trip to Honduras and Belize in 2010, simply because I wanted to take a missions trip before graduating from college. A week before my trip, Micah and I had our first date. We dated for three years before getting married on August 3, 2013.
Team Ghana’s driving purpose is making disciples of Jesus Christ, and the result has been the multiplying of churches. God has blessed the efforts of the men and women serving Him in Kumasi, Ghana. Fundamental Baptist Church International has been in existence for 8years and has already directly influenced the start of 36 other churches in Ghana and Liberia.
The church in Kumasi is also home to Hyles-Anderson College of West Africa, which has 61 graduates and an average of 37 students per month. The college prepares the young and old alike. The current student body is made up of young men who are aspiring to be in ministry, as well as current pastors who see their need for better training.
I eagerly anticipate doing as my fellow team members have done: winning souls, discipling converts, and helping advance the spread of churches across Africa. One of my specific duties on Team Ghana will be to disciple children. God has given me a passion for reaching children, so I eagerly anticipate this opportunity.
It is well known that children are the most easily reached people group, and I would contend that they are also the group with the most potential. Half of Ghana’s population is 20 years old and younger; young people truly are the key to making a long-term impact in Ghana and the surrounding regions. I look forward to teaching Ghanaian pastors and workers how to develop Children’s Ministries so that the next generation is reached across Ghana and beyond.
In addition to leading the Children’s Ministry at Fundamental Baptist Church International, I am excited about teaching in Hyles-Anderson College of West Africa and Fundamental Baptist Academy. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to mold the lives of pastors, pastors in training, and the young people of our Christian school.
My family just celebrated Thanksgiving here in Ghana, and as I think about my blessings, I have to thank God for all of you who faithfully support us financially. This has been a tumultuous year, yet throughout all the difficulties, our supporting churches have continued to be consistent in their giving. Many have had to sacrifice to make this possible, and I want to express my appreciation. Souls are being saved, and lives are being influenced for Christ. It is because your giving allows us to live here; you are laying up treasures in Heaven. God bless you!
I am also thankful that we have been able to start our children’s department Sunday school classes again. More than that, we were able to start two new children’s classes! This brings some much-needed relief for teachers who had classes with 50 children or more!
Sometimes small things help us to feel the love of God in a special way. Since I was a small boy, eating cranberry bread was one of the highlights of Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, in our nearly four years in Ghana, I had never seen cranberries here. Abbie learned that there were some at a particular store, got them secretly, and made cranberry bread as a surprise for me! What a treat! We even found cranberry sauce at a store this year. AnnaBeth and Ezekiel love it! Maybe one day we will convince Abbie to like it too!
It looks like the government will allow schools to reopen in January. By that time, most children in Ghana will have been out of school for 10 months! With school reopening, we should also be able to do Bible Clubs again, and I plan to start a Sunday afternoon program to get our children into soul-winning training and Bible memorization. We are so excited about the opportunities connected with reopening, but please pray for us. Challenges are sure to arise, and we need wisdom.
Fruit to Your Account
Sometimes you find a good “fishing hole” for soul winning. One day as I was going soul winning in a new area, I met a young man named Frank who was sitting in front of an electrical store. Frank turned out to be a church member, and though he was already saved, he gathered three of his friends and made them sit down to listen to me give them the Gospel.
No one trusted Christ that day, but I learned that six electrical apprentices work at that store. They all come to work on Saturday, and there usually is not enough work for all of them to do. That usually leaves at least one of them with enough free time to listen to the Gospel.
Over the last month and a half, Lawrence and Boateng have put their faith in Jesus alone to save them. Sarkodie has heard the Gospel, and while I think he understands what the Bible is teaching, he has a hard time believing that salvation is by grace through faith, not of works, and that once you are saved, you are always saved. Solomon has heard a partial explanation of the Gospel, but I have not been able to finish it yet. I have not been able to witness to Isaac at all yet. Frank’s younger brother Elvis doesn’t go to our church, but he came to see his brother at the electrical store one day, heard the Gospel, and got saved!
Please pray for Sarkodie, Solomon, and Isaac to be saved and for all these young men to have the conviction to leave the churches teaching them false doctrine and to grow in Christ.
May God grant you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!