Mission Trip Experience
My name is Alain Leistikow, Director of Student Ministries at First United Methodist Church of Livingston. I am married to the Lakeview famous Natalie Jeane Leistikow, who has blessed me with a beautiful baby girl in 2021 named Junia Joy. Any theologians out there recognize my daughter’s name from scripture? I have been in youth ministry for about 12 years with half of those years spent in Livingston. I am a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary with my Masters of Arts in Theological Studies specializing in Youth Ministry. I love to fish out on Lake Livingston, hunt whitetail deer in South Texas, and play video games specifically on the pc. That is basically me in a nutshell.
Something many churches and for that matter many congregational members don’t realize is that Children and Youth ministries was a particular passion for Jesus. I am sure many of you can think about the time Jesus taught adults to be more like children, or the time when he commanded to let the little children come to him. Plus, the 12 disciples were not men in their 30s or 40s, but actually ranged in age from 12-21. As such I have spent the majority of my adult professional life dedicating myself to building children’s and youth ministries in the model that Jesus gives us all. In the past 6 years at Livingston, I have grown the youth ministry from 10 teens up to 200 pre-pandemic, and then during the pandemic from 30 up to 60. Along with numerical growth I have taken this youth ministry all over the world on mission trips from the Dominican Republic to Israel. Lastly, in 6 years this youth ministry has raised over $100,000 in fundraisers for missions, Summer camp, and over various activities. I can help you build a Jesus focused, worship-oriented children’s and youth ministries who through faith will go out into the world on various mission trips.
My name is Jack Matthews. I was born and raised in Houston and currently live in Tyler, TX. I have been working and volunteering in a ministry of some kind for the last 15+ years. Volunteering on a U.M. ARMY workday in 2010 actually led me to meet my wife, Marla, while building a wheelchair access ramp. Marla and I got married in 2011, we have two boys, Jackson, and McClain, who have managed to keep us on our toes, but also show us a deeper level of connection to God and our Church. I currently work for U.M. ARMY as a Regional Director, setting up and facilitating mission trips in the Texas and Louisiana United Methodist Conferences for church groups large and small.
My calling is to help churches and their congregations redefine how they see mission opportunities. Many think about missions as something international or far away. I focus on local missions because you do not need to travel far to have an impact. As an employee of U.M. ARMY, it is my job to facilitate mission trips for youth and young adults. I want to use the knowledge I have gained by working for U.M. ARMY to help local churches have the tools they need to get to know and help their neighbors. How can I help your church grow missionally? Through connecting it to organizations like U.M. ARMY, or as a consultant analyzing what you are currently doing and showing you a way forward. Let’s redefine what mission looks like at your church together.
Rev. Eric Pugh
Eric is a native Ohioan, who grew up in Central Ohio, attended The Ohio State University earning a BS in Biological Sciences. Eric served 8 years in Parks and Recreation Management in Ohio and Texas, prior to answering his call to ministry. Eric has been in full-time ministry with the United Methodist Church since 2005, serving in Youth, Young Adult, Family, Missions. Currently he serves as the Executive Pastor for John Wesley UMC in Houston, Tx. Eric is an ordained Deacon in the UMC, with an MTS from SMU - Perkins School of Theology. He is currently working toward a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching, from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, in Chicago. Eric has been married for 21 years and has 3 teenage daughters. Eric is an outdoor and travel enthusiast. He is passionate about helping others discover their God given gifts, answer their unique call to ministry and achieve their goals. Eric is an excellent communicator, with great interpersonal skills which allow him to lead in small and large group settings.
Eric has a heart and passion for servant ministry. During his 15+ years of full-time ministry, Eric has planned and led more than 30 week-long service opportunities for youth and adults, both in the US and abroad. Eric has worked domestically with JUMMP, UMARMY, Big House, Mountain Top, Texas Ramps, and various other community service organizations. Internationally Eric has worked with Living Water International, Trinity UMC (Kenya) and Project Chacocente, where he currently serves as member of the board of directors. Eric believes that the key to servant ministry is relationships. Establishing mutually beneficial relationships is essential to successful long term missional impact.
Rev. Gaston Warner
Gaston is experienced in Christian engagement with poverty alleviation, and for the past ten years has led Zoe Empowers engaging with hundreds of short-term and virtual mission trips interacting with orphaned children and vulnerable youth in Africa and India. Gaston is an elder in the Texas Annual Conference and has worked/consulted with numerous para-church organizations striving to alleviate poverty locally and internationally. Gaston holds a BA from Brown University, a MDIV from Duke Divinity School, and an MBA from the University of Durham, England.
Gaston Warner enjoys assisting congregations in thinking through how to conduct mission trips, in situations of long-term poverty, which center upon God's work, the dignity of all involved, and avoid common pitfalls which have limited missional relationships and effectiveness in the past.
A native Houstonian, I grew up on the west side, attended Spring Branch ISD schools, and received my BA from the University of St. Thomas with a major in music. After about 18 years as a small business owner/operator I entered the nonprofit field, first at Goodwill Industries of Houston, then worked for three nonprofits whose focus was providing free home repairs for low-income, elderly, and disabled homeowners, the last one being U.M. ARMY where I served as Executive Director 2005-2017. I retired in 2017, but quickly went to work for Disaster Ministries of the TAC doing Hurricane Harvey recovery in SETX and retired again in 2018.
I was a member of a Southern Gospel men’s quartet (The Southernaires) for about 20 years, where I sang and played guitar, performing at local Opry’s, revivals, and church services. Additionally, I started and led 2 praise bands for start-up contemporary worship services.
I am married (34 years) to Rev. Sharon Sabom, an elder in the TAC, have 3 adult children and one grandson. We live in rural Fort Bend County, hobbies include music, photography, bird watching, and feeding the deer.
I have extensive experience in local missions, facilitating volunteers to provide free home repairs for low-income, elderly, and disabled homeowners that are physically and financially unable to make needed repairs to their homes. I am able to help in all aspects, identifying prospective clients, determining scope of work, recruiting, and organizing volunteers, funding ideas, obtaining supplies and materials, work site evaluation and supervision, and engaging the church in the project.