On March 2nd the FLM Core (Board) unanimously voted to bring on Karl Reed as a full-time staff member. Karl (37) is married to Jessica. They have five kids. Karl has faithfully served as a part-time apprentice with Focused Living for 18 months. We appreciate Karl’s heart for seeing men experience the Gospel in their daily lives. His character, his skill-
set, his life story and his millennial generation perspective adds value to the team of Perry, David, and German. With Karl on board full-time, we
expand our capacity and we open ourselves in new ways to the next generation.
We interviewed Karl to introduce him to the wider Focused Living family. We hope you enjoy getting to know him in this brief interview...
FLM: Where have you lived besides Columbia, SC?
I was born in Grand Rapids, MI and spent most of my childhood growing up in the small, rural town of Sand Lake. I also spent about 5 years of my childhood in Swaziland, South Africa where my parents served as missionaries with Trans World Radio. I moved to Beckley, WV in 2001 to attend Appalachian Bible College which is where I met and married my wonderful wife Jessica. We spent about 5 years in Michigan after we were married and then moved to Columbia in 2010.
FLM: How did you end up in Columbia?
Well....Jessica and I got married after our junior year at Appalachian Bible College, and I never completed my
theology degree. God began to put it in my heart to leave the ministry position I was in at a church in Rockford, MI and to complete my theology degree. When God started to lead us in that direction, Jessica’s only stipulation for finding a bible college was that it had to be in the south. I found Columbia International University through internet searching and we visited the campus for a weekend....and the rest is history. We didn’t have plans to stay in Columbia after I graduated from CIU, but God certainly did!
FLM: Tell us about your spiritual journey.
I was born and raised in a Christian home, and even spent some of my childhood overseas as a missionary kid. So everything God, and church, were just a normal part of my life. I understood the gospel at a young age but struggled to really grow roots and walk in a personal relationship with Jesus. I really got lost in the ways of the world as teenager and began to pursue worldly lusts and passions and pleasures. I learned to deal with my sinful pursuits and the guilt and shame that accompanied them by hiding my struggles and faking that everything was all good. As you can imagine, that led me down a dark and lonely road. There’s a lot more to the story, but you will have to buy me a doughnut and coffee to hear the nitty gritty. I found myself far from God, lonely and beaten down by my sin, and 16 years into a pornography addiction and substance abuse. BUT GOD...overwhelmed my heart with his great grace and mercy and gave me the courage I needed to finally confess my deep struggles to my wife and ask for help. That began a process of recovery, but not just recovery from addiction, it was a recovery of who I am IN CHRIST. And it was that journey of recovery that God used to begin to transform my heart and my life. I now experience unhindered intimacy with God, an intense burning passion in my heart to help others walk in freedom and communion with God, and a deep faith and hope for the future.
FLM: You’re a father of 5. Describe your kids.
Evelyn (12) – She is growing into a beautiful young lady. Super smart, very responsible, goofy as can be, just a joy to be around.
Anthony (10) – Passionate, sensitive, outgoing and very talkative. He loves to play any kind of sport, just like me. And he is also very smart and a great student. He loves to laugh and to make others laugh.
Lillian (4) – Firecracker, super sassy, always going a million miles an hour. She likes to be the boss of her younger sister Charlotte, and tries to be the boss of the house at times. She loves to be silly and she loves to be tickled.
Charlotte (3) – Super sweet and lovey-dovey. She can turn my “bad days” into good days with just a smile and a kiss. She is very content being alone in her room with her toys but also has to be in the middle of the kitchen when mom is cooking.
Jackson (8wks) – Hungry! That’s all I can say about Jack, so far.
FLM: When it comes to parenting, what comes most easily and naturally for you? What’s the hardest part?
Having fun and goofing off with the kids is certainly the easiest part of parenting. Parenting with grace and patience is a continual battle of mine.
FLM: You’ve been married to Jessica for 15 years. How did you first meet and when did you realize you definitely wanted to marry her!
Jessica and I met at Appalachian Bible College (ABC) in Beckley, WV. ABC was a very small college and we were both incoming freshman at the same time, so we basically met the first day of college and hung out with the same friends all the time. I knew there was something special about her when I first met her. We hit it off right away and spent a lot of time together as “friends.” But it took us a couple years, and a broken engagement on her part, for us to take our relationship to the next level. We were married 16 months after our first official date.
FLM: You apprenticed with Perry, David, and German for 18 months. What draws your heart toward the ministry of FLM that led you to throw your life in with these guys full-time?
The guys (Perry, David, and German) have such authentic and passionate hearts for Jesus and His mission. They are so unified in their pursuit of building Christ’s kingdom through discipleship and unified in their dependence on God and walking in His Spirit. I was so encouraged and challenged in my own faith as I spent time with them that I knew I wanted to be around them as much as possible. I also saw first-hand how God was using their intentional relational discipleship to impact the lives of men and families around Columbia and I wanted to be a part of what God was doing through Focused Living. I feel so incredibly blessed to be on this team and I know it’s exactly where God wants me to be right now.
FLM: What will you be doing with Focused Living?
Primarily, relational ministry. I will be meeting with guys (seekers, young believers, disciples, etc.) and helping them in their pursuit of Jesus and His mission for their lives. I will be launching a new forum within the next year. I will shoulder the IT needs of the ministry (Videos for forums and Grip, website updates, app maintenance, etc.). I will also help with writing and formatting the Grip guide and the summer Fueled materials.
FLM: How can we be praying for you and your family during this transition period?
Please keep praying that Jessica and I will continue to find our strength for our marriage and parenting in Christ. Pray for Jessica as she makes the transition back to being a stay at home mom with 2 toddlers and an infant. Pray for me as I expand my relational ministry, that my heart would remain tethered to Jesus and my ministry wouldn’t be in the flesh, but led and directed by the Holy Spirit.
FLM: When you are not meeting with guys or corralling kids, how do you like to spend your time?
Sleeping! But seriously....I enjoy anything athletic and competitive. I like to get up early and get in a workout. I like to play basketball or just shoot hoops. I’ve recently been introduced to racquetball and I can already tell it’s going to be addicting. And I really enjoy spending time with my family, whether that’s at the pool, at the park, or on the couch watching a movie.
FLM: You’ve been to 6 different FLM Men’s Forums. Which one is the best?
I feel like I’m being set up here.... I really enjoy ALL of the forums, but the Tuesday morning one in St. Andrews was the very first forum I ever attended, so it’s definitely my favorite.
FLM: Yes, you were being set up. And you navigated that very smoothly!
FLM: How do you cultivate your intimacy with God?
Nothing compares to some good old quiet time alone in God’s presence, reading His Word and praying. I try not to move from that place until I truly feel like I have been in His presence, which usually expresses itself through feelings of peace, joy, satisfaction, and hope. I also love to listen to worship music loudly. I make sure it’s nice and loud so I can’t hear myself singing, because nobody wants to hear that.
FLM: You seem to be a really cool guy. Who is the second coolest guy on the FLM staff?
All of the guys are cool....in their own way.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved Karl and given him eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen his heart in every good work and word as he ministers with Focused Living. Amen.