Posts in Staff
Meet the Staff: Caleb Ives
Caleb and his wife Latoya.

Caleb and his wife Latoya.

This week we have the privilege of sitting down with Caleb Ives, the executive director of Emmaus Ministries. Caleb came on staff in 2012 when Emmaus Ministries was a bible school in the mountains of North Carolina. Caleb and his wife Latoya moved to Florida with their 4 daughters during Emmaus’ relocation and relaunch in 2015. Caleb is known for teaching the word of God with life and being a friend to all that he meets.

Caleb, lets just jump right in, what do you do around here?

I guess I do “director” things!  I teach in our different programs, shepherd the staff team, lead board meetings, and think a lot about vision for the future. But honestly, I feel like I spend most of my time in conversations. Whether with staff developing teachings and designing ministry programs, with students wrestling through difficult Bible passages and life challenges, or with pastors & leaders exploring ways to equip their Church to follow Jesus and engage their Bible. I end up spending a lot of my time in conversations.

What is your favorite part of your Job?

I love pretty much everything about my job, but my favorite part is seeing people discover new things in the Bible. It’s exciting to see individuals and churches feel equipped and gain renewed excitement to engage the Bible. And it’s incredible to get to play a part in them becoming captivated by the beauty of the Gospel and the character of God as He is revealed in the Scriptures.  Basically, I love having a front row seat to see the gracious work of Jesus transforming lives and communities! Dang...I love my job!

When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?

Well, this really is a three part answer. PART 1: In 2011, I was Pastoring in Michigan and felt a tangible sense of lack when it came to my knowledge of the Bible. Along with this I was struggling with anxiety and a lot of shame. At a retreat in Florida, a mentor told us about the School of Biblical Studies and my wife and I knew this was what God had for us. That retreat center in Florida “happened” to be Canterbury Retreat Center in Oviedo, FL. Four months later we were living in the mountains of North Carolina, and I was studying the BIble all day, every day in the School. Over the next year, I became a new person as the Gospel saturated my heart and the Spirit reshaped my life. PART 2: I came to the School planning to leave afterwards, go work at a church while finishing seminary, then go plant the church I’d always dreamed of planting. But, during my student year, my wife and I began to feel a desire to serve this ministry that God had used to impact our family so much.  After graduation we interviewed with a couple of awesome churches and tried to find something we could do OTHER than join the missions staff. Ultimately, God continued to pull us back to Emmaus. So, we committed to joining staff for two years, (while I finished Seminary) then we were going to go plant a church. PART 3: After those two years, I was a part of the staff team who discovered God was directing Emmaus to relocate to Central Florida...to a retreat center...by the name of Canterbury Retreat Center in Oviedo, FL (see Part 1). It was a crazy collision of our original call for me to be a student and the deepening call for this to be the ministry we give our lives to. It was through this process of discernment that our family really felt God running deep roots of this Emmaus calling in our hearts. In 2015 we moved with a few other staff to Central Florida to relocate Emmaus. Then in 2018 I accepted the commission as the new Executive Director of the ministry. It’s been quite a journey!

Which Bible Character would you want to get coffee with?

Am I not allowed to say Jesus? The right answer is pretty much always Jesus. If not Jesus, I think I’d like to grab a coffee with the exilic prophets. I have really been inspired by the faithfulness of the ministries of Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel. They are rejected, persecuted, mocked and ignored. Jeremiah is told from the start of his ministry that no one will listen to him, but he remains faithful and is willing to do absolutely insane things in obedience to God and in service to the people. Daniel manages to be both incredibly humble and unbreakably strong as an exile in Babylon, his courageous trust in God has always challenged me. Ezekiel essentially has to redefine everything he thought he would be doing as a priest in Jerusalem, instead being called to be a prophet to the Exiles in Babylon. Another reason I’d want to have coffee with those guys, their stories would be epic: Jeremiah took a three month walk to bury his underwear as a prophetic sign; Daniel spent a night with lions; Ezekiel cooked food over cow poop and saw some super trippy visions. That would be an entertaining conversation for sure!

What was your favorite Christian Song to jam out to growing up?

Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith were definitely a background soundtrack for my childhood, but I’d say Carman was my jam as a kid. He had these ridiculous music videos and I thought they were amazing! I was also 110% “Down with the DC Talk” in my early adolescence. I can pretty much rap “I Don’t Want It” word for word to this day. It was the only Christian song I knew that used the word “sex” so, it had my attention as a middle schooler. In high school I discovered the Christian rap legend that is Antonious (sarcasm), but those bass lines rattled the windows of my 1988 Ford Taurus for a few years. You can probably tell that I was super cool.

Why Emmaus?

First of all, because Emmaus is committed to addressing perhaps the largest problem of the Church in America today: Biblical Illiteracy. Studies show that engaging the BIble is the number one discipline that produces life-long spiritual growth. Also, the Emmaus Road of Luke 24 is an experience that continues to repeat itself. As people journey together with the Jesus who opens the Scriptures, it continues to produce burning hearts with renewed passion for Jesus & His mission. It settles the anxious heart with the hope that is in Jesus. I’m so glad God has called our family to be a part of this ministry!

 If you would like to partner financially with the Ives family you can follow the link below or if you would like to read Caleb’s updates you can follow that link below.

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Meet the Staff: Samantha McRae
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This week we’d like to introduce a very important staff member. Without this person, our ministry would undoubtedly come to a screeching halt. Samantha McRae does everything from cooking breakfasts to running the behind the scenes administration that keeps our ministry going. Sam plays a crucial role in making Emmaus what we are today. Let’s dive in and learn more about Sam and her role on staff.

What do you do around Emmaus?

I am one of the "hosts.” Essentially, this means I am part of the team that plans and prepares our weekly breakfasts and our community events.

I am the calendar queen, I know, sounds important. I work on keeping our schedule clear and make sure there are no conflicts between the Emmaus and Canterbury Retreat Center’s schedules. (I also secretly aspire to be the “Emmaus Mom” pertaining to birthdays and such, but we’ll see what happens. We do have quite a few moms in our midst now.)

I also assist in the financial department, grade student assignments, and disciple female students through what we call “one-on-one's”. Oh, and I check the mail, so that’s pretty cool..

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love the staff I get to work with, in some ways they are my family. The women have become some of my dearest friends and I’m so thankful for each of them in my life. I very much enjoy the discipleship aspect of working with students, seeing another woman, a sister/friend, drawing closer to Jesus through the truth of God's Word is amazing, I feel so blessed to be able to live life beside these women as we each grow in our faith and understanding of who God is and who he made us to be. (And I really enjoy preparing breakfast and organizing schedules. Breakfast and organization make me happy.)

When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?

In the fall of 2016, during my student year at Emmaus School of Biblical Studies, that’s when I first considered the option of staying on as a staff member after graduation.

Which Bible character would you want to get coffee with?

I think it could be interesting to speak with Rahab and hear her story, including her reasoning behind choosing to follow the Hebrew God, instead of following whatever gods she had been serving until that point in her life. I sometimes wonder if her reasoning was merely fear induced or if she was secretly yearning for the true God and the fall of Jericho presented the opportunity. Either way, I admire the way she took a stand and saved those in her household.

Another person I would like to speak with would be Ruth. I’ve heard her praised for her faithfulness and disparaged for her blind following of others but I’m interested in knowing her heart. Why did she do the things she did? How was she feeling in those situations?

Why Emmaus?

Originally, Jacob and I came to Emmaus School of Biblical Studies merely because they would accept me without having experienced a YWAM DTS. (YWAM = Youth With A Mission and DTS = Discipleship Training School) But, after spending some time around the staff of Emmaus, we realized they lived life differently than we had experienced anywhere else. We wanted to live lives immersed in the Word of God alongside other children of God. Emmaus seemed like the right fit for us. We wanted to be part of a community that actively sought the will of God, whether it was simple or not. We no longer wanted the "easy life" we had been living before. (I know, that sounds crazy. Easy sounds much better than difficult. But, Jesus makes it all worthwhile.) And we wanted to see people embrace the truth of the Bible for themselves. It transforms you. Jesus transforms people by loving them where they are. Once you accept His love your entire mindset changes. He loves you enough to challenge your preconceived notions and to convict you to change, to become a better version of yourself. And he loves you through the challenges, even when you fail. That’s the kind of God we serve and He’s who we attempt to imitate in this ministry.

Samantha and her husband Jacob are currently raising support! Please consider joining them as financial partners in ministry, if you would like to do so, follow the links below!

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Meet the Staff: Kristi Marsh
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Kristi Marsh is one of our newest members to the Emmaus staff! Recently Kristi was teaching the Bible at a high school in Tennessee. She left her full time job to become a missionary on our teaching team. Kristi loves teaching about theology and engaging with students one on one. She’s passionate about discipleship and community which means the perfect fit for our staff. What she’s not passionate about, is the summer Florida weather! Let’s take some time to get to know Kristi!

What do you do around here?

As with most ministries we all wear a lot of different hats. I joined the staff in January and I teach in the school and get to disciple students one-on-one. I will be helping to organize some of our community events and facilitating opportunities for students to get to know each other and the staff. I also get to network with different churches and pastors regarding our Narrative Series and Seminars. I will soon start teaching Seminars and will also be a part of our ongoing development of the Seminars. It's an honor for me to spend my week studying and teaching Scripture and connecting with so many people.

What is your favorite part of your Job?

It's hard to say since I really enjoy all of the aspects of my job. I love studying the Word to teach it to others and getting to watch the Scripture come alive for people. I also really love getting to walk alongside of people and disciple them, but I think the most unique part of this job is the privilege of spending every day working and doing life with people who are passionate about God. The authentic spiritual community at Emmaus has been a huge blessing.

When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?

I had been praying about leaving education and after taking a Strategic Futuring class last March God made it pretty clear that Emmaus was the next step. The final project of the class was to write a very detailed paper of where we wanted to be in 15 years. It was a very specific assignment and when I called Caleb (my long time friend and Director at Emmaus) he described almost everything I had written in that paper! I had initially been resistant to moving to Florida (it's too hot and too far from home) and becoming a missionary but within 24 hours God completely changed my heart and I made the decision to join the team. It was definitely the right decision.

Which Bible Character would you want to get coffee with?

That's hard, I don't like having to make this choice. I recently saw a drama that showed Peter as a young man and followed him until he was martyred. It was really powerful and connected me to Peter in a new way so if I have to choose, then today, I will choose to get coffee with Peter. Tomorrow I will choose Paul.

What was your favorite Christian Song to Jam out to growing up?

I was, and am, a big Shane and Shane fan. However, you don't really "jam out" to their worship music. So I guess I'll have to go with DC Talk.

Why Emmaus?

My passion is for people to know God and His Word and to grow and be transformed. I think that happens best in the context of consistent relationships and intentionally studying God's Word and applying it to your life. Emmaus is the full package for me. I believe that what we do, and how we do it, provides a space for the Holy Spirit to really transform people. Only the Holy Spirit can change hearts but I think Emmaus creates a meaningful and unique opportunity for the Holy Spirit to do a deep and enduring work. It is a special season of life where someone comes to devote themselves to God and the study of Scripture, and not only are they discipled and equipped with tools for a lifetime but their lives are usually changed in the process. I wish everyone could spend a year of their life at Emmaus.

If you would like to learn more about Kristi and receive her personal blog updates, follow the button below. If you would like to join Kristi as a regular supporter follow the button below.

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Meet the Staff: Jacob McRae
Jacob McRae with his wife Sam McRae

Jacob McRae with his wife Sam McRae

One of the first things people tend to notice about Jacob McRae is his amazing beard! One of the next things that people will notice is his genuine heart for people and for helping them see the Gospel through service. Jacob grew up in Virginia, after his DTS (Discipleship Training School) he moved to Homer Alaska where he meet his wife Samantha. Jacob and Samantha moved to Florida to be students at Emmaus’ School of Biblical Studies before coming on staff 2 years ago. Jacob is on the teaching team, manages student administration/admissions and oversees all of the meals and social gatherings at Emmaus.

What do you do around here?

My role here at Emmaus includes a variety of jobs. Most of my time is spent as a part of our teaching staff. This means that I spend the majority of my weeks studying and preparing to teach books of the Bible for our students, grading, and meeting with students for discipleship one-on-ones. Secondly, I'm in charge of handling admissions for Emmaus, which means processing applications, connecting with potential students, and helping them to prepare for their time here. Finally, my wife and I team up in order to prepare a delicious breakfast for our students every day before class.

What is your favorite part of your Job?

As most of our staff would probably agree, one of the most rewarding aspects of this job is getting to see the Scriptures come alive for our students, it's an incredibly powerful experience! But, being a new, self-proclaimed Bible nerd, I immensely enjoy preparing to teach books. Nothing helps you understand book like preparing to teach it and I’ve very much enjoyed the aspect of getting to really dig deep into the texts. I've definitely come to learn a lot during my time as staff, and it's even more fun to do so in a whole community of other Bible nerds!

When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?

When I was a student at Emmaus, I once accompanied our Director to a men's Bible study that he was teaching that morning. At that time, I still had plans to pursue other passions of mine (in this case woodworking). But I remember sitting in that Bible study and listening to our Director speak about the Bible with such ease and understanding and he did so in such a relevant way that clearly impacted the men at that Bible study. It was in that moment that I found myself thinking, "I want to know my Bible like this guy more than I want anything else!" From then on, the passion to help others know their Bible in a deep and intimate way has continued to grow in me day by day.

Which Bible Character would you want to get coffee with?

First answer would probably be the author of Hebrews....I just want to know who that person is...I mean come on, just sign the letter! My second answer would probably be Daniel. Through the process of teaching for the school, Daniel has become my absolute favorite book of the Bible. Daniel is someone who faced innumerable trials and gut-wrenching situations and still proved to be one of the few Old Testament characters that continually served as a model of righteousness and faithfulness throughout his life. I want to know that guy!


What was your favorite Christian Song to Jam out to growing up?

As any decent 90's youth group kid should answer, my go-to's were anything by Relient K, Five Iron Frenzy, and the O.C. Supertones.

Why Emmaus?

Growing up in an incredibly loving, Christian household/church, I lived my life with the constant notion that my Bible was supposed to mean something to me, but the truth was that it just didn’t! Regardless of how many times I vowed to read through the Bible in a year, I often fell off the wagon somewhere in Exodus. Here was a book that was supposed to lead and define my faith and yet I didn’t know how to read it and found it incredibly intimidating! This shook me to my core, and it sent my wife and I on a path towards Emmaus. After I embarked on my own “Emmaus Road journey,” to encounter God through His Word, I truly did feel my own heart burn within me (Luke 24:32). My wife and I suddenly found strong purpose in the mission of Emmaus Ministries, to help equip others with the Word of God. I want every believer to understand that knowing the Bible in a deep and intimate way is a goal very much within reach, and that it’s never too late to start your own Emmaus Road journey!

If you would like to join Jacobs financial partnership team or read his blog click the links below.

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Meet the Staff: Stephen Ray
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This week we want to introduce you to Stephen Ray. After Graduating college at Oakland University, Stephen moved from Michigan to be a student at Emmaus. After his student year, Stephen joined the staff. He’s now been a part of the teaching team at Emmaus for 2 years.

All right Stephen, what do you do around here?

I have my dream job here at Emmaus, I am a part of the teaching staff. This means I get to teach entire books of the bible for our school, Biblical Literacy Seminars and even our Biblical Narrative Series. I'm also in charge of the weekly devotions that we do with as a community, grading homework and meeting for one on ones with our students.

What is your favorite part of your Job?

My favorite part of my job is seeing the moment of discovery in the students. Whether it be our part time School of Biblical Studies students or people attending one of our seminars, I love seeing people “Get it!” It could be a specific book of the bible is coming alive or the gospel is getting deeper and deeper into their hearts as they dig into the text.  

When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?

When I was a student I remember working on my homework for 2nd Corinthians. I was getting so excited about these New Testament books coming alive to me for what felt like the first time. As I was studying, I thought, “Man i wish i could keep going deeper.” At that moment, I felt like God said to me “You can if you stay”. Not to long after that Tom Phillips (the former director) invited me to be on staff.

Which Bible Character would you want to get coffee with?

I would love to have coffee with Paul. His letters are so theologically dense, and people still debate constantly on what he is trying to say. I would love to have a full, in depth conversation with him to talk through some of his more confusing passages and see what he was trying to say. I would also love to have coffee with the Apostle Peter. In many ways, Peter reminds me of myself and i would love to talk with him over our similarities.

What was your favorite Christian Song to Jam out to growing up?

When i was a kid Switchfoot was just getting big. So I would rock out to “Meant to Live” and “Beautiful Let Down.”

Why Emmaus?

One thing about this ministry that has continually drawn me in is the community. We aren’t just a bunch of intellectuals debating theology, seeking deeper knowledge of scripture. We are community of believers committed to walking with each other through life. It was pretty easy to say yes to Jesus and come on staff because I have always felt such a strong presence of “Home.” I’m genuinely friends with every single person that is on staff. That’s a great gift to have.  


If you would like to partner with Stephen financially or read his blog follow the links below.

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