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Charles Cole - Lead Pastor

Charles grew up south of Chicago in Kankakee, Illinois. At age four, Charles’ dad died in a work accident and then was reared (literally) by his mom, Earline, until age 11. His mother then married his stepdad Bob Wilms. Charles attended and graduated from an interdenominational high school called Kankakee Trinity Academy.

Charles was very involved with his local Open Bible youth group and was called into the ministry while on a mission’s trip with YWAM in 1986 in between his junior and senior year. He ran hard from that call for eight years.

While running from the call of God, Charles attended Olivet Nazarene University in the ROTC program, but due to a knee injury he lost his scholarship, his hopes of a military career and had to withdrawal from school. He then attended Kankakee Community College and earned an associate’s degree in law enforcement. Continuing his education, he attended Governor’s State University and was enrolled in the criminal justice program, with plans on attending DePaul University Law School. He served as an auxiliary office with the Bourbonnais Police Department for over two years.

In 1985 Charles met his wife, Deanna, at Open Bible Center in Kankakee, Illinois where both of their families attended. After knowing each other for 3 years and dating for just over one, they were married in 1989. They had their first of four boys, Michael, in 1990. Later they added to their family with Matthew in 1994, Mitchell in 1996 and Mason in 1999.

In 1994, while Charles was continuing to run from the call of God into ministry, a job opportunity came up with the state of Illinois. Deanna suggested that they pray about it and Charles, not being the spiritual leader of his family, agreed reluctantly. During prayer God spoke to Charles’ heart and said, “Why should I show you what to do now, when you didn’t do what I told you eight years ago?” Charles was broken and told God that if He would confirm through his wife this call, he would sell everything and move to Oregon to go to bible college. A few days later, Deanna came to him and asked if he had any sense of where God was leading and he said that he knew what to do about the job situation. Deanna asked for more details and he said that God was going to confirm it through her. She returned later in tears saying that she did not want to move (the job didn’t required a move) then she said that we are moving to go to bible college. Charles broke emotionally, honored his word to the Lord, sold most of what they had and moved his wife and two boys six months later to Eugene, Oregon and attended Eugene Bible College now known as New Hope Christian College.

Charles was a staff pastor of evangelism at Calvary Open Bible in Springfield, Oregon under Pastor Gary Emery for almost two years. During that time the focus of evangelism and outreach was ramped up and they were able to record at least 260 decisions/rededications for Christ. He later moved to Centerville, Iowa and was the senior pastor for a re-start church of only six people. When he left two years later there were over 40 who called Family Faith Center their home (now known as Lighthouse Open Bible). The next stop was Jefferson, Iowa and Gospel Open Bible Church. He and his family pastored there for six and a half years.

Currently, Charles is the lead pastor at Experience Church in Des Moines, Iowa and also serves as the Open Bible Churches Central Region Treasurer.

Charles’ heart beats for his family, God’s church, evangelism (personal & corporate) and the issues that confront the family & individuals in our American culture, such as political correctness and where does it fit in the church, calling sin what it is without being worried about offending people & living up to who God has designed us to be considering the world He has strategically placed us in for such a time as this.

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