Jim Mather | Lead Pastor
Jim is married to Mary and they have 3 children- Daniel, Joshua, and Gabriella. Jim was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in the area until he joined the United States Air force at
age 18. During his third year of a 4 year enlistment, Jim became a believer in Christ.
After completing his enlistment, Jim spent some time in Dallas, Texas
studying scripture and learning about missions at Christ for the
Nations Institute. From Dallas Jim felt called to attend Nursing College
in Westchester, PA. He graduated in 1985 and was
married to the former Mary Schiavoni whom he met while attending a local
church near the nursing college. In 1987 Jim joined the U.S. Navy to serve
for 3 years in the Navy Nurse Corps. While stationed in Pensacola,
Florida, they attended a church that was very
active in missions and had its own Bible college. The Mathers felt called to
missions and studied at the college to prepare for missionary
service. In 1992, Jim and Mary left Pensacola with their two young boys to help start an eye
hospital in Pakistan. They served in Pakistan for 5 years and upon setting up the
hospital and training local staff felt led to return to America to
work in International student ministry. Jim and Mary have been the
directors of Friends of Internationals since that time. In the later
part of 2008 Jim and Mary began to sense the need to plant an international church in Mobile, AL.
Jim enjoys reading non fiction and running long distance races. A little known fact about Jim is that he was born in Nazareth (actually Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia, PA). His favorite food is anything Italian. Actually, he told his family at age 10 that he would marry an
Italian after eating real Italian spaghetti and meatballs at a family
function. Until age 21, he was afraid to talk to people and was considered an
introvert. After becoming a Christian, his personality became much more outgoing. Now he talks to people from all over the world!
Chris Estis | Associate Pastor
Chris grew up in Mobile, AL and began following Jesus at an early age. In 1999 he married Julie, his college sweetheart. For the past 13 years he has served several local churches in Mobile and Baldwin Counties- primarily in student ministry and most recently as a church planter at a growing church he helped start in 2004. After graduating from the University of Mobile with a degree in theology, Chris began graduate work at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In December of 2008, he and Julie began sensing the need to help plant a multicultural church on or near the campus of the University of South AL. Julie works on faculty at the University of South AL in the Department of Speech Pathology.
Chris and Julie enjoy spending time outdoors, having people in their home regularly, and the occasional trip to the beach! In August of 2009 they welcomed their first child, Carter who never ceases to keep them entertained. Chris loves a good project and looks forward to any opportunity to be creative- music, art, gardening, graphic design, or restoring something old. He also enjoys seeing life and beauty restored in the lives of people.
Jeri Stroade | Director of Refugee Ministry
Jeri grew up in a Christian family in Pretty Prairie, Kansas, but really began to "own" her faith in Christ while attending college at Kansas State University. It was during this time that she began to develop a love for other cultures and for the poor.
Jeri received her M.S. in Agricultural Economics with an emphasis in International Development from Kansas State University in 2003. Immediately she began working as a research assistant in the Department of Agricultural Economics while simultaneously attending Emmanuel House Seminary.
Jeri has enjoyed experiencing many different culures through extensive travel and through the many international friendships she has made here in the U.S. Jeri is an explorer at heart. She loves exploring the outdoors, exploring food (cooking and eating), exploring plants and helping them grow, and exploring exciting new places. Jeri is happy be in Mobile, AL and is looking forward to experiencing Southern culture too and the many new adventures that await her here.