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.
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.