The following narrative was taken from my personal website's DAT Ministries Home Page and rewritten for this public WikiTree biographical section. Eventually, I hope to have enough energy to rewrite this narrative and to finish the redesign of my website. For now, both will have to stand as-is until the hereditary disorder that I have, called MELAS, permits my body to do what my brain wants to do without the fatigue and pain that I constantly endure. Thanks for your understanding but, more importantly, thanks for your prayers! With that, here is my life's intro and some of my Christian testimony.
From an early age, I have had a passion to learn. One area that I chose to learn in was The Holy Bible; also known as The Word of God. My parents raised me in a good church-going family under the Methodist denomination. In Boy Scouts, where I obtained the rank of Eagle at the age of 14, I pursued the God and Country award. On one Friday evening while attending our church's Coffee House during my junior year in high school, a small group of us went into the church's sanctuary to pray. It was then and there that I experienced my first encounter with the Holy Spirit. While nothing in particular was felt by me, several others in our group were overcome with emotion and fell to the floor. I knew that I had certainly "missed" something special. Some time later, I was visiting a high school friend of mine named Russell Joyner and while we were talking in his backyard sitting on his swing-set, we somehow got on the subject of religion. I seized the opportunity to ask Russell about my church experience during the Coffee House to see if he had ever experienced something like that. While I cannot remember what Russell told me that day, I do know that I was still miffed at what I had “missed” that night at our church's Coffee House.
Fast-forward to the afternoon of 25 August 1982. My future-wife at the time, Theresa, and I had just returned to her parent's residence after one of our dates. While still sitting in my car, somehow we got on the subject of religion just as I had done with Russell some 10 years earlier. Still knowing and never having forgotten that I had indeed "missed" something special many years prior, I seized the opportunity to once again ask about my church experience during the Coffee House to see if she had ever experienced something like that. Much to my surprise, Theresa seemed to understand exactly what I had "missed" and did her best to carefully explain everything. We probably sat in the car a good hour as I tried to absorb what Theresa was telling me. Recall, that from an early age, I have had a passion to learn and this time it was no different. Explain she did and Theresa backed up her words with Scripture references. What I sensed was "missed" some 10 years earlier finally came into focus. It gelled in my brain. Call it "taking off the blinders to the Truth" in such a way that God, through Theresa's explanation, revealed Himself to me in a way that I had never experienced before. I wept. I finally understood that Sunday School memory verse from an early age, John 3:16 (KJV). "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior right then and there in my car, with Theresa, in her parent's driveway. No fancy prayer, no bells and whistles, just a simple request from me to God that my sins be forgiven as I turned my life over to His Son. Google "Romans 10:9 KJV" for the verse and you will find "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." I finally stopped trying to "figure out" theology and realized that I could not go through life without Christ. Note that I cited the specific date of this event in my life. It is my second "birthday" - the day that I was born again.
Fast-forward again to the early 1990's. Computers were becoming more affordable for in-home use and the Internet was starting to emerge enabling wide-ranging capabilities. After establishing an Internet presence for myself using CompuServe as my Internet Service Provider (ISP) and getting my first-ever E-mail address, I began to discover that people were discussing Christianity online. In order to further my involvement in God's Church, I created a few webpages explaining what I had learned over the years about God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I began to visit online "chat rooms" where Christianity was being discussed via the Internet. I offered my eMail address to those that had questions about Christianity. I found that I really enjoyed explaining God's Word and sensed that the Holy Spirit was inspiring my responses. I also began to receive prayer requests. As a result of successfully being able to reach out to others and hearing about positive results in people's lives that I only knew through the Internet, God began to show me His Plans for an online ministry. Somewhere around the mid-1990s, David and Theresa (DAT) Ministries was born. I used my CompuServe account's webpage production capabilities to build my first-ever website specifically for DAT Ministries. Over the next few years, God further revealed to me His Plans for the online ministry by literally sending hundreds of "virtual-visitors" to what was evolving into a "cyber-church" of sorts. I discovered from my website visitors who were asking questions about Christianity, that they were not church-attending people. They were telling me that my website was not threatening to them and that they felt comfortable discussing Biblical principles with me. I could see what God was using my CompuServe website and ministry for. I also learned that my visitors to the DAT Ministries website were not familiar with terms such as apostle, evangelist, prophet, etc. so I began to refer to myself as the "pastor" of the website. After all, God was sending people my way to be nourished in His Word so essentially, I was in-fact pastoring my website's visitors. From that time onwards, DAT Ministries informally became an online virtual church that I was pastor of.
From the start, I had decided that I would NEVER ask for donations thus I did not file to become an IRS 501(c)3 tax-exempt ministry. Too many people are turned off by television ministries that constantly ask for money. For DAT Ministries, I did not want to create any stumbling blocks for the people that I wanted to reach out to. I wanted to reach the unchurched crowd that perhaps were turned off by church-isms, were hurt by the church, or never wanted to step foot inside a church. As I continued to expand the online ministry of DAT Ministries, I became known as "PastorDATM" for a screen-name and by various no-charge eMail accounts. Another screen-name that I adopted was "Wheelin Rev" which is derived from my love of Jeeps and off-road wheeling activities and as a play-on-words now that I am a full-time wheelchair user. Google either of those screen-names and you will find my presence at many Internet locations.
Towards the end of the 1990s, I purchased the rights to an Internet domain name for my online ministry. I choose the unique domain name of "DATM.ORG" which is the acronym for David and Theresa Ministries (DATM). Recognizing my unique Calling into online Christian ministry for evangelistic purposes, I received my ministerial license as a minister in the Five-Fold Ministry of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13) from the World Ministry Fellowship (WMF) in 1998. Their website can be found here and they are based out of Plano, Texas. I would encourage anyone that feels the Call of God on their life to contact the WMF concerning their organization and the need for ministerial credentials.
The new online presence of DAT Ministries was launched on 24 May 1999 and continued in active ministry for 10 years. On 29 September 2008 after serving over 13,500 site visitors, I began a year-long effort to “remodel” the original cyber-church website into one where Christianity is still proclaimed but not as an active ministry that demanded a lot of time responding to eMails, participating in chat rooms, etc. I knew that I needed to slow down. This also coincided with a formal retirement from an active online ministry in October 2008. The website for DAT Ministries will continue to exist but with a new focus. It is anticipated to document my retirement years and my ongoing fight against the rare degenerative neuromuscular disorder that I have known as MELAS. Googling simply the term "MELAS" will result in many sources for information of the disease, how there is no known cure, how the disease affects all of the organs of the human body (many symptoms are similar to muscular dystrophy), and how the medically-defined end result is fatal. Not a pretty picture but with God, ALL things are STILL possible and I choose to believe the Word of God!
In summary, DAT Ministries first came into existence during the mid-1990s. I received the Calling of God on my life to be an online minister (Internet eVangelist) in the late-1990s. At that point in my life, I had been a gainfully employed electrical engineer for 20+ years and a Christian for 16 years. For the next 10 years, I remained in part-time ministry with licensure from the World Ministry Fellowship (WMF) even after being diagnosed with a terminal illness (MELAS) in 2005. Finally, as 2009 approached, I knew it was time to retire altogether. I simply did not have the ability nor the energy to carry on. Effective 1 October 2008, I made the decision to retire from active online ministry and rescinded my membership with the WMF. But my vision for DAT Ministries and love of online Internet eVangelism will never die. Only my weakening body will eventually expire. Of course, at that point in time, I will be in Glory free from all of the curses of MELAS. Thank you Jesus!
You may be wondering how my Christian testimony ties in with this well-thought-out and superbly-designed genealogically-oriented website known as WikiTree. It is actually a very simple relationship. For any individual's family tree, the ultimate goal is to research, discover, document and the connect the linear-relationships of all that appear on what really does take-on the appearance of a tree. Hence, we end up with a Family Tree. If one could ever trace their roots back to the foundation of time, each and every-one of us would find a common denominator. God. Likewise, think about what the WikiTree designers are attempting to achieve:
Now I say all of this not to start an argumentative dialog of theology. Whether you believe in a god or not, all family trees in a reverse-chronological arrangement of individual leaves on a tree started somewhere, somehow, at some point in time. Let's just leave it at that. After all, I chose to include the God-factor because first, I have been trained and chosen as a licensed minister and, second, the underlying theme of bringing the entire population of Earth into a single family tree, well... You see where we are going and we all must end up at the same point. Perhaps we can agree to call it the Master Family Tree? Whatever, call it what you may.
Bottom line, this should be an enjoyable project that ultimately brings all of us together by learning more about our most-distant relatives; regardless of age, sex, race, nationality, anything.
Thanks for taking the time to read this rather long biography. As an individual with an expected lifespan far-less than average due to a neurologically degenerative disorder, I will never have the opportunity to write a complete autobiography. It is by these means, using websites like WikiTree, that I can plant little seeds like this all over cyberspace that will continue to grow long after I am gone.
As for this global-effort to create that Master Family Tree, I for one pray that this tree continues to grow and never dies. If the founders of WikiTree can successfully complete their mission, I believe that their foundation for the ultimate family tree truly will bring all of us closer together.
May God bless you all, Dave, K4EET