By Ethan Jago
I grew up in a culture where it was frowned upon to ask hard questions. As the son of a pastor, I knew all the right answers to the right questions, but every other response outside of that box was simply: just have faith. This mentality is what led me to a rehearsed faith that simply imitated my parent’s and surrounding church members’ faith. Sadly, this seems to be a common theme amongst many today. There are churchgoers who don’t know why they believe what they believe. There are also former churchgoers who have left their faith to find other answers. By the grace of God, I’ve learned over time that God’s Word is sufficient and so many of the tough questions I had back then have answers.
In 2005, I joined the military to become a S.E.R.E Specialist in the U.S. Air Force. My career focused on surviving, evading, resisting, and escaping from the enemy. I continued my Christian facade for a time until I felt a sharp conviction that I was a self deceived Christian. I professed Jesus with my lips but my heart (and as a result, my lifestyle) was far from Him (Matthew 15:8). I was a sinner in desperate need of a Savior and acknowledged that it is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that I could be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9).
In my 15 years of military service, my wife, Dianne, and I moved to 5 different states, had 3 children, and faced multiple deployments. God used a number of trials to refine us and teach us to lean on Him no matter what circumstances He allowed on our path. We continued to serve in each local church as we saw the value of the Biblical community no matter where we moved. Dianne and I started a Christian women’s magazine in 2014 called Deeply Rooted. I also completed my Masters of Divinity in Apologetics (a defense of the Christian faith) from Liberty University. The military culture gave me many opportunities to minister to others and utilize what I learned in a variety of cultural contexts.
In 2019, God opened the door for me to enter into full-time ministry at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. Out of the military, my perspective shifted from training individuals on how to survive capture, to understanding God’s Word. Trained with a tactical mindset, I launched into full-time ministry with a fierce passion to expose the schemes of the bigger enemy and arm Christians to know why they believe what they believe. I am currently on track to finish my doctorate in Theology/Apologetics. These studies have helped me immensely to aid my own understanding and equip others.
In August of 2022, I gratefully accepted the role to be the lead pastor at 5 Bridges Church in Panama City Beach. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” and I see that God has led me down a path to this very point. I am excited to serve this church and the Panama Beach City community through expositional (verse-by-verse) preaching and making and growing disciples. I invite you to join us on Sundays at 10:15 a.m. and Wednesdays at 5 p.m. to discover a Biblical community founded upon the Scriptures.
Find us at 17495 Panama City Beach Expressway, PCB, FL, on Instagram at @5bridgeschurch, or online at 5bridges.church.