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Conference Bios

2020 Cedar Springs Global Mission Conference Guests


alvarez_gmc20JEFF & ELLEN ALVAREZ
Mekong Ministries - Thailand

Jeff and Ellen Alvarez have served Asia’s Unreached People Groups since 1991, first in China and then in Thailand. In 2004, they started Mekong Ministries, a highly focused church planting ministry in Asia engaging 5 UUPG’s (unengaged unreached people groups) in Laos, Burma and China. They have seen 2 of the 5 UPG’s have significant movements to Christ.

Jeff and Ellen have 2 daughters, Meilii who is married to Evan and working in Denver, and Gracei who is working in Honolulu.

baloyi_gmc20SYBIL BALOYI
Hllauleka Mumpswa - Mozambique

Sybil, who is a trained nurse, child evangelist, and educator, has been a missionary in Mozambique for 25 years. She is the founder of an association called Hlauleka Mumpswa, which means “be holy, young person.” Under Hlauleka, Sybil runs programs that train Sunday school teachers, conduct children and youth clubs, and support around 140 orphaned and vulnerable children. In 2008, she opened a preschool that now holds 200 children, and in 2013, she started a private Christian primary school that has 450 students. This year, a secondary school for 8th graders will open.

Sybil proudly mothers 4 girls from different families that were all in need, as well as her adopted 13-year-old son, Tom.

bianconi_gmc20DAVID BIANCONI
CLC - Knoxville, TN

David wants men to become servant leaders - fully devoted to their Master, Jesus Christ. He experienced CLC (Christian Leadership Concepts) first as a participant, when in 1995 one of his friends from Cedar Springs Church invited him to be in a group. It changed his life! In 2004, after completing his third group, David became the CLC Area Director for Knoxville. Since then, hundreds of men in Knoxville give testimony that God is faithful, and that their diligent pursuit of Jesus through the vehicle of CLC has produced much fruit.

In his spare time, David likes to hike in the nearby Smoky Mountains, spend time with his wife, Kristin, his children and grandson, and work with his hands.

branch_gmc20JIM BRANCH
Core Leadership - Knoxville, TN

Jim and his wife Carol are Knoxville natives and longtime members of Cedar Springs. Jim was even on the staff of Cedar Springs from 1992-2002. He also served on staff with Young Life for eighteen years. Now he directs Core Leadership, a Knoxville-based ministry of spiritual formation and nurture to leaders throughout the city, state, and country. Jim’s calling and passion is to help leaders cultivate their inner lives with Jesus in a way that allows them to give from a place of abundance, rather than one of scarcity. This takes many different forms: one-on-one meetings, small groups, retreats, speaking engagements, consulting, writing, etc.

Jim and Carol have been married for 37 years and have three grown children (Tim, Michelle, and Hunter) and one wonderful daughter-in-law (Katie).

All Nations - Germany

After coming to know Jesus as their Lord in the late 1970’s, Kevin and Tammii Carmody participated in a number of short-term ministry trips to Central America and Eastern Europe while also raising their two children. In the mid 1990’s, the Lord asked them to consider Abraham’s “other” descendants who lived in the Middle East. In response, they resigned from their executive positions in order to receive missionary, cultural, and Arabic language training. Since 2003, the Carmodys have lived, served, and ministered to Abraham’s non-Jewish descendants in the countries of Oman, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and Germany. In recent years, God has been using the mass migration of those coming out of the Middle East to bring Abraham’s non-Jewish offspring into His household (Isaiah 60). The Carmodys have dedicated themselves to sharing Jesus with these people and helping others to understand how they too can be a part of what God is doing today.

cazana_gmc20KRISTIN CAZANA
BLC - Knoxville, TN

Kristin Cazana is the National Executive Director of BLC (Becoming Like Christ). In 2009, as a new BLC group member, Kristin was struck by how the Lord works when women open up to each other and earnestly seek to follow Him. She went on to co-lead a BLC group as well as the BLC Knoxville City Leadership Team. In 2015, God called her out of the professional world of Speech-Language Pathology and into the ministry of discipleship training. The best part of her job is that she gets to meet with women, hearing where they are, and encouraging them in their relationship with Jesus.

Kristin and her husband of 22 years, Justin, have two children, Andrew and Caroline. Her favorite things to do are travel with her family and hike in the Smoky Mountains, and one day she would love to plant a vegetable garden.

cockrum_foster_gmc20JANET COCKRUM
Safe Families for Children - Knoxville, TN

Janet completed her masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Tennessee in Child and Family Studies and a certificate in Life Coaching from CRM Empowering Leaders. Her years as a teacher, athletic director, church planter in Spain, and adjunct professor of marriage and family at UT laid the foundation for her role with Safe Families for Children and mentoring young adults. Her passion is praying for young people to know the transforming power of the gospel, experience intimacy with God, and to hear His call on their lives. Joining Janet at the conference is Cara Foster, a Safe Families Case Worker. Both Janet and Cara enjoy working with their SFFC volunteer host families and mentoring the biological families.

Janet’s favorite roles are being a mother of two adult children, a mother-in-law, and a wife to Mark.

cunnington_gmc20RALPH CUNNINGTON
City Church Manchester - UK

Ralph became a Christian shortly before going to university in 1996. After 7 years working as a university law lecturer, he trained for pastoral ministry at WEST and Westminster Seminary London and was then Assistant Pastor at Aigburth Community Church, Liverpool. Ralph is on the Steering Group of City to City UK, he represents the FIEC on the Council of Affinity, and is also on the Board of UCCF: the Christian Unions. Ralph is passionate about church planting. He convenes Plant North and co-hosts the Planters Collective in Manchester. Ralph recently authored a book on Word and Spirit in preaching titled Preaching with Spiritual Power.

Ralph is married to Anna and they have three children: Sophie, Zach, and Jacob. When he doesn’t have his hands full looking after his children or pastoring the church, Ralph enjoys playing squash and watching cricket and football.

davis_gmc20PAUL & KARAN DAVIS
TEAM - France

Paul and Karan Davis are church planters in France with TEAM. After graduating from Columbia International University in 1976, they moved to France in August 1978. They have since been involved in six church planting projects, with the most recent one having been completed in January, 2020 in the city of Pontcharra, located between the Winter Olympic cities of Grenoble and Albertville. They are now starting a regional ministry of training, coaching, and mentoring French pastors in the French Alps region to see more churches planted in cities that still have no gospel witness.

Paul and Karan have five children and ten grandchildren.

eric_gmc20YASSIR ERIC
World Missions Academy - Germany

Rev. Dr. Yassir Eric is a professor of Islamic Studies and Theology at the European School of Culture and Theology in Germany, as well as the Columbia International University (CIU) in Columbia, South Carolina.
He is also the director of The European Institute of Migration, Integration and Islamic studies (EIMI) in Germany and is involved in training Europeans in cross-cultural studies and Islam. Yassir travels on a regular basis to the Middle East and acts as a consultant to a number of European politicians and governments.

essenburg_gmc20MICHAEL & KIM ESSENBURG
Resonate Global Mission - Japan

Since 1987, Michael and Kim Essenburg have been using Christian education to reach Japan for Jesus. They have served at Christian Academy in Japan (1987-2014) and Okinawa Christian School International (2015-2019), and in April they will begin serving at a different international Christian school: Kyoto International University Academy.

Michael grew up as a missionary kid in Japan, and Kim grew up as a pastor’s kid in the US. They met at and graduated from Covenant College. They have 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren.

kramer_gmc20JUERGEN KRAMER
All Nations - Germany

Juergen lives in Hamburg and is leading the work of All Nations in Europe. He is a church planter, as well as a successful businessman who leads his own consulting practice for senior business leaders. Since 2003, Juergen has supported missions work in many countries around the globe through visits, training, and coaching. In 2015, a new focus emerged with the immense influx of Muslim refugees to Germany. This created the opportunity and need for developing a focused missional team which has planted churches among various unreached people groups in the diaspora.

Juergen holds an MA and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Hamburg, Germany. He is married to Monika, and they have two daughters and three grandsons.

larmey_gmc20STEVE LARMEY
Young Life Africa - Tanzania

Steve has been on Young Life staff for over 20 years and now serves as group senior vice president of International East: Africa/Middle East, India, Asia and Australia. The Larmeys have served the mission of Young Life in Africa since 2002 when Young Life was operating in a couple of high schools in only one city in Ethiopia. In 2019, God has grown the ministry to 26 countries, almost 8,000 volunteer leaders and almost 225 national staff. Young Life Africa/Middle East is the fastest growing frontier of Young Life ministry. Over 1 million kids have been reached for Christ and 94,000 kids and leaders attended a Young Life camp in Africa/Middle East in 2019.

Beyond recruiting and coaching the team of staff and leaders who oversee this work, Steve and his wife Dyan are active in their local church, volunteer with WyldLife, and sit on the Board of Trustees for Haven of Peace Academy. They have four children who all attend college in the US.

macmillan_gmc20NEIL & LOUISE MACMILLAN
Cornerstone Church - Scotland

Neil is the Church Planting Pastor of Cornerstone Church, a church planted in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2014. Neil has planted multiple churches and leads a thriving church planting network called Generation. Neil graduated in Politics from the University of Glasgow, and in Theology from Edinburgh Theological Seminary where he now teaches Mission and Evangelism. He is Moderator Elect of the Free Church of Scotland.

Neil is married to Louise and they have 4 children.

Student Ministries - Middle East

N shares the Gospel on college campuses in the Middle East, and he and his wife have served full time in ministry for 13 years. N is an elder at his church and is passionate about teaching God's Word and evangelism.

N serves in a Creative Access country, and due to security reasons, has requested that we not publish his photo or full bio. For more information about him or his ministry, please reach out to the Missions Staff at Cedar Springs.

mellema_gmc20JEFF & IRENE MELLEMA
TEAM - Thailand

Jeff and Irene Mellema serve in Thailand where they have just finished their first term (3 yrs) studying Thai and linguistics. Upon their return to Thailand in May, they will be working towards their long-term goal of translating the Bible for an unreached minority people group. They hold B.A. degrees from the Moody Bible Institute (Irene in TESOL and Jeff in Biblical Languages). Jeff also holds a M.A. (Biblical Exegesis) from Wheaton College and is working toward another M.A. (Linguistics) from Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Jeff and Irene have two children, Hudson (8) and Jade (6).

meredith_gmc20CRAIG MEREDITH
Child Evangelism Fellowship - Knoxville, TN

Craig Meredith is the Local Director in Knoxville for Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), a global children’s mission. He has served in this role for 3 years and had previously worked in IT sales for IBM. Craig had little experience working with children prior to joining CEF but says he enjoys “praying as a child.”

Craig has been married to Christine for 30 years, and they have 2 daughters and 2 grandchildren.

meyer_gmc20TOBIE MEYER
City to City Africa - South Africa

Tobie pastors Ligpunt, a church which he helped plant in 2010 and that now forms part of a city network called The Union. He also acts as catalyst for City to City Africa, seeking to help stimulate movements of the gospel in the major cities of sub-Saharan Africa. Before studying theology at George Whitefield College in Cape Town, he worked as a lawyer, first in South Africa and then in the UK. He was also part of the CTC International Intensive in 2009.

Tobie is married to Mariana, and their three daughters (Amélie, Juliette and Jean-Marié) give them enormous joy. Getting somewhat lost while exploring remote parts of Africa is Tobie’s idea of a great holiday.

Church Planter - Chile

Patricio and a core team have planted two City to City supported churches in Chile, both of which are reaching the most unreached Chilean people group: the middle-upper class. A former engineer and businessman and the only Christian in his family, Patricio felt compelled to study theology in Sydney instead of pursuing his family’s business tradition. Since then, he has channeled his passion to raise new generations of leaders and pastors in the context of church planting by setting up a training foundation, Fundación Generación. Patricio has also been involved in helping set up City to City Latin America and is very excited about serving with an interdenominational network in his city (Evangelio360).

Patricio and wife Dagmar, a designer and artist, have served God together since they were teenagers. They have 4 children and enjoy coffee and spending time sharing with people around a nice Chilean BBQ.

Student Ministries - Middle East

S works to establish bible discussion groups across college campuses. The universities are filled with students both from the Arabian Peninsula and from nations within the 10/40 window. He came to faith 11 years ago and has been involved with this ministry in a full time capacity for the last 8 years. He also currently serves as a deacon at his church.

S serves in a Creative Access country, and due to security reasons, has requested that we not publish his photo or full bio. For more information about him or his ministry, please reach out to the Missions Staff at Cedar Springs.

TEAM - Mexico

Carlos and Sandy are church planters with TEAM in Guadalajara, Mexico. Carlos is the missionary pastor of Rivers of Grace Community Bible Church. After turning over their church plant in Cabo San Lucas to a Mexican pastor, they moved to mainland Mexico in 2012. Both have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible. Additionally, Sandy holds a B.S.W. and a M.A. in Missions. They have served with TEAM for 30 and 38 years respectively (Sandy in Japan for 13 years).

Carlos and Sandy have been married for 23 years and have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and 4 grandchildren.

stiles_gmc20MACK & LEEANN STILES
Erbil International Baptist Church - Iraq

Mack Stiles and his wife, Leeann, have traveled and lived in many places (including 15 years in Dubai, UAE) before landing in Erbil, Iraq in July 2017. Mack is the pastor of Erbil International Baptist Church and has authored five Christian books. The most current book is Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus. Over the years, Mack and Leeann have been involved in university student ministry, church reform, and church planting.

They have three grown sons, two amazing daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren.

bethany_staff_gmc20LYNSEY STUBBS
Bethany Christian Services - Knoxville, TN

Lynsey Stubbs joined Bethany Christian Services in 2018 and is the Assistant Area Director in the Knoxville office. She earned her bachelor's degree in sociology in 2006 and her master's degree in organizational leadership in 2013. Lynsey has over ten years of experience working with children, youth and their families in foster care, education, and, most recently, with survivors of sexual exploitation and violence. Joining Lynsey at the conference is Carrie Cate, the Adoption Supervisor of Bethany’s Knoxville office.

Lynsey is married to her best friend and they parent their sweet but stubborn dog.

stutz_gmc20SHAWN STUTZ
FOCUS Ministries - Knoxville, TN

Shawn Stutz is the Executive Director of FOCUS Ministries. Shawn has served as a nonprofit leader in Knoxville for six years, following 16 years of pastoring churches in Tennessee, Georgia, and California. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Union University and a Certificate of Spiritual Direction from The Leadership Institute in Southern California.

Shawn is married to Michelle and they have two adult children.

warren_gmc20ANDY & BEV WARREN
MTW - Ethiopia

Andy and Bev Warren began their missionary service with MTW in 1982 and have ministered in Kenya, Hungary and Ethiopia. Since 1996, they have served in Ethiopia where Andy leads MTW’s church planting and mercy ministry team. In 2002, through a partnership with SIM Ethiopia, they started the ACT project in Addis Ababa. Working with the poorest residents, the team cares for medical needs, makes sure children are fed and sent to school, plants churches, and disciples believers in the community. Over the last 18 years the project has planted a church and served more than 1,700 families in 5 slum communities. Bev’s ministry has focused on helping families become self-supporting through business skills training, savings programs, and small grants.

Andy and Bev have four adult children, Hannah, Cooper, Asher, and Christopher.

wood_gmc20CLAYTON WOOD
Thrive - Knoxville, TN

Clayton Wood is the Executive Director of Thrive Lonsdale and a pastor of Lonsdale Community Church in Knoxville. He was previously a member of Cedar Springs for many years and became involved in his ministry work through the CSPC missions department. Clayton is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Washington and Lee Law School. He is still a practicing attorney, though most of his legal work now is pro bono. Prior to entering ministry, Clayton worked in constitutional law with Jay Sekulow and then in business development for a nanotechnology company.

Clayton is married to Danielle, and they have five children.