Michael grew up in Newton, NC but moved to Spartanburg, SC just before beginning high school. He trusted Christ for salvation from sin as a child, but began earnestly walking with God while a student at the University of SC. Through the college ministry of his local church he was discipled and began growing in the gospel. After graduating with a degree in biology he moved to Wake Forest, NC to attend Southeastern Seminary, with the aim of one day serving as a seminary professor. SEBTS connected theology and worship for Michael, and it was a time of amazing spiritual growth. After completing two Masters degrees, Michael moved to the Chicago suburbs to complete doctoral studies at Wheaton College.
While a student at Wheaton, he was invited to teach for a missions team from Lincolnton that was serving in Mississippi. It was on this trip he met Jana Jonas—whom God would graciously give to be his wife in two years time. Though for years he had pursued academics, several weeks before their wedding God wrecked Michael’s pride and gave him a heart for God’s people and God’s church. He applied to join the staff of the church that had sent the missions team, and in 2009 he began serving as an Associate Pastor for Family Ministry.
That season of pastoral ministry was both deeply rewarding and gut-wrenchingly difficult. Yet God used the time to refine Michael and Jana and increase their contentment in the gospel. During a particularly difficult stretch, God provided the blessing of their daughter Kinleigh, who is a source of great joy. After that season of ministry ended, Clint reached out to Michael to encourage him and offer the support of Freedom Church. The Whites quickly fell in love with Freedom and they covenanted as members in January 2015. To Michael’s surprise, a one-week fill-in role as guest worship leader turned into a multi-week stint that still hasn’t ended. He officially began serving as Associate Pastor in February 2015 and was named Lead Pastor in May 2017 as Freedom sent former Lead Pastor Clint Darst to plant King’s Cross Church in Greensboro, NC. The Whites pray for the flourishing of God’s glorious gospel, that dead hearts may come alive and broken lives may be transformed in Lincolnton and to the ends of the earth.
Josh grew up in Raleigh, NC. He grew up in the church but didn’t really understand the Gospel until God opened his eyes his freshman year of college. The Lord had placed a couple of Christians on his baseball team at Wingate University and they began to help him truly walk with the Lord for the first time in his life. He got involved with Campus Outreach that year, meeting Clint who was on staff for them at the time, as well as another leader named David. David would disciple him for the next 3 years while he was in college and through David’s influence, Josh began to read his Bible and pray daily causing him to be passionate about the glory of God as never before. After going to several New Year’s Conferences and Summer Beach Projects with Campus Outreach he became one of the student leaders at his college while leading Bible studies and helping the ministry grow.
Josh graduated with a degree in accounting and went back home to Raleigh to look for a job. After bouncing around with a couple jobs and getting plugged into Imago Dei Church, Clint challenged him to try and find work here in Lincolnton and be a part of Freedom Church since he became the Lead Pastor. Josh began working with Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Gastonia in April of 2013. Four months later he married he best friend, Brie. After a year and a half of working there he received a promotion that required them to move to Greensboro, NC. However, the move wouldn’t last long as Freedom reached out to Josh about becoming the Admin Pastor and he and Brie, after much prayer, gladly accepted the Lord’s new direction for their lives. So only five months after moving to Greensboro they packed up everything again and brought their new three month old daughter, Elisabeth, back to Lincolnton for good in December of 2014. The Sugg family is very grateful to be here and can’t wait to see what God has in store for Freedom Church!
- Ric Goodhue
- Micah Isenhour
- Rob Owen
- Eddie Sipe
- Josh Sugg
- Darren Turner
- Michael White