Speakers from the Summer of 2022

June 7 — Your Relationship with your Neighborhood – Loving & Impacting

Gary Kendall

Married to Belinda for 43 years, 3 children, 3 grandchildren.
Ministered in KC for 43 years in 3 churches.
Started Love KC .
Works for Gloo as a Cities Lead.
Founded Indian Creek Community Church in 1985. It grew from seven families to 2,000+
Led an international ministry to China for 11 years.
Started a church planting network, Church Multiplication Association, planted 79 churches.

“I’m passionate about equipping the everyday disciple because I believe it is the small, ordinary, everyday conversations that matter most when it comes to reaching our world for Jesus. We say, we will help you live your faith with confidence and know how to lead your friends to Jesus.”

June 14 – Your Relationship with Work

Pat McCown

Pat McCown began a relationship with Jesus in the spring of 1972. Since that time, he has served in lay leadership roles in a number of organizations including Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Young Life, Christian Campus House, youth and young adult ministries, small group leader, worship leader and on leadership and elder teams for various churches over the past 40 years.

Pat is founding partner and retired CEO/Chairman of McCownGordon Construction, a large commercial construction firm serving the greater Midwest region. Pat currently serves on the board of directors for McCownGordon as well as a number of civic and philanthropic boards in Kansas City, some of which include serving as past Chair of the Kansas City Art Institute and Trustee for the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He also serves as chair of the Kansas City Symphony Board of Directors and on the boards of Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, William Jewell College, The University of Kansas Medical Center Advancement Board, Johnson County Community Foundation Board, and on the Board of Trustees for MRI Global.

He and his wife Beth are both actively involved with numerous charitable organizations throughout the Kansas City area, including City Union Mission, Kansas City Rescue Mission, Faith Driven Investors, Golden Shores Initiative (Myanmar) and faith-based impact investing groups around the nation. He and his wife Beth were honored as KC’s Philanthropists of the Year.

Pat holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Missouri University of Science & Technology and a Master’s in Business Administration from the Bloch School of Business – University of Missouri Kansas City. Pat was bestowed an honorary doctorate degree from William Jewell College in May of 2018 and Pat was inducted into the Academy of Civil Engineers from Missouri University of Science & Technology. He resides in Leawood, Kansas, with his wife Beth and is the father to four children and the proud grandfather of eight grandchildren.

June 21 – Your Relationship with Diversity-Developmental & Behavioral Misconceptions

Dr. July Jean Cuevas

I come from a beautiful half island in the Caribbean. I am from the Dominican Republic (DR), which shares territory with Haiti. My roots are deep in both sides of the island. I consider myself a follower of Jesus and a proud Black, Hispanic/Latina, immigrant woman. I come from a Christian family. I am the oldest of two. My brother and I are 18 months apart and grew up playing together. I lived in the DR until June 2012. I lived in NYC for 3 years and now have been living in KC for the last 7 years. I married 3 years ago and have a 15-month-old daughter who makes our lives brighter and better every day! I enjoy listening to music, dancing, and talking with friends.

I am a physician. Specialized in Pediatric development and behavior. The official job title is Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician. I see children from infancy to age 21 with developmental disabilities, delays, autism, anxiety, and ADHD. I work with special needs population and children with different abilities. Education and teaching have been a big part of my career and I have been teaching in different settings since I was in medical school.

“Following your calling in life is a scary thing to do, but if you listen close and trust what God has for you, it becomes the bravest, most wonderful thing. I enjoy seeing patients and their families grow and live to their full potential. I am passionate because I believe that I am doing what God has destined me to do. I never thought I was going to do what I do today; or that I would be working where I work or living where I live. I have been humbled to find the ways God can use me as an instrument to guide families in difficult moments. We often see families in vulnerable situations and give life changing diagnoses daily. That has taught me compassion, sensitivity, and empathy. I learn everyday by supporting others in their journey.

It is important to understand what families with special needs members go through daily. It gives you an insight into a reality lived by many around us. We can do more for others than we think.”

June 28 — Your Relationship with the Hard Things
(In Africa & when our kids take their own route)

Lee & Tammi Bramlett

Lee grew up in Northwest Arkansas around his extended family in a small community until his family moved to Colorado where he graduated from Limon High School. He attended John Brown University where he met Tammi. They settled in Kansas after graduation and Lee worked at an Antique Refinishing company until their departure to France to learn French in 1992.

Tammi grew up in DeSoto, Kansas near Lawrence. She grew up in the same house as her dad, which is also the house that her grandfather built. Tammi has a Bachelor of Science in Education degree for Elementary Education from John Brown University.

Lee was a Bible Translator for Wycliffe Bible Translators for 25 years. He spent 13 years in Cameroon, Central Africa translating the Bible for the Hdi people. The Hdi New Testament was dedicated in December 2013. After living in Cameroon he moved to Dallas, Texas to serve at the SIL International headquarters (a sister organization to Wycliffe. Lee used his Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership to serve leaders in the Bible Translation movement focusing mainly in Southeast Asia and India.

Tammi did all the linguistic training for Bible Translation and was a huge help to Lee for the 13 years in Cameroon, Central Africa translating the Bible for the Hdi people. Most of her days in Cameroon were schooling their 4 daughters and running the Field Education Service for the other remote translation families in Cameroon. After living in Africa the Bramlett’s moved to Dallas, Texas to serve at the SIL International headquarters (a sister organization to Wycliffe). For 10 years, she served as the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director. Upon relocating to Kansas in 2016, she began working at the University of Kansas in the Technology Transfer office as a Senior Admin Assistant, where she continues to be employed.

“We want to encourage all parents that you can make it through any hard things that your life and children throw at you. God is sufficient and His grace is always on time.”

July 12th – Your Relationship with Rest

Jordan Wilbanks

I am married to Bev and we have a little boy, Noah, who was born this spring. We are extremely grateful for the church family here at New Life. I grew up in north Florida and went to college at the University of Miami. I moved to Birmingham, Alabama after school to live near my older brother’s family. My parents taught me to love the church; in Birmingham, God used my pastors and my mentors and small group community to deepen my faith and understanding of Scripture, and then he gave me the opportunity to teach and lead as one of the elders of church plant in Birmingham. I lived in Alabama for almost 9 years before being called to Kansas City to work at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

After most of my work life being in the business realm, I now serve as the Director of Church Partnerships at Midwestern. I love working at Midwestern because it is a school founded by churches, it is committed to biblical truth and Christ’s love for people, and it is fiercely devoted to the local church. To put it simply, I moved to Kansas City because I was offered a job centered on a) supporting and caring for pastors, and b) helping to raise up a new generation of pastors and ministry leaders. I met Troy (and learned of New Life) through my work. My department oversees multiple initiatives geared at providing various resources to help pastors equip the saints for the work of ministry. We hope to help church members know God better through a better understanding of His Word. We hope to help pastors lead their church members toward a better understanding of their roles in kingdom work. And we work to train up new pastors in godliness and resource them for longevity in faithful, humble, God-centered ministry.

“A biblical understanding of rest points us to none other than the gospel itself!”

July 19th – Your Relationship with Unhealed Hurt

Geony Rucker

Geony is wife to a great husband, Martin T. Rucker II, and mother to 3 AWESOME kids aged 4 and under. She’s a former DI and DII NCAA volleyball player whose tough life experiences inspired questions that drastically challenged her faith. It was in the wrestle that she came to personally understand the difference between having knowledge of the Word and having Holy Spirit inspire a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus. She enjoys teaching about trauma, purity, and what it looks like when those two topics collide. She encourages authentic conversation, self-reflection and most importantly, for people to wrestle with God about the “tough stuff”.

With nearly a decade of experience in violence prevention and education in the nonprofit sector, Geony offers unique insight when discussing complex issues related to trauma response, crisis intervention, and human trafficking. She provides real-life scenarios that engage her audience members in a deeper exploration of prevention, peer support and advocacy-minded responses for victims. She is founder and president of Value Unconditional, a nonprofit helping adults heal from trauma through God’s Word. The impact of her work led to her nomination as a 30-Under-30 Ink Magazine Honoree for the Class of 2017. In 2019, she was nominated for the We Raise Foundation Leadership Award for her work to interrupt cycles of poverty, violence, and inequality in the Greater Kansas City Metro area. In May of 2022, she was honored by the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s Criminology department, receiving the Kansas City Community Resiliency Leadership honor, which highlighted advocates and allies working to reduce violence, respond to those who’ve experienced violence, and/or serve as community assets in building resilient, vibrant communities that are fair, equitable, and safe. Few things fill her cup like seeing victims and survivors have their hope restored through the Holy Spirit’s guidance of God’s Word.

“I’m passionate about discussing the relationship we have with unhealed hurt because there are way too many people carrying burdens, sometimes for many years, that they were never meant to carry. Many times they’ve been told these are things you “just have to live with”. Other times they’ve been taught to sweep it under the rug and “maybe it will go away”. They would gladly lay the weight down, but they just don’t know where to start. If God can use my life experiences to show even a single person how to lay the weight down and find freedom from past hurt, I’m confident many more lives could be impacted through that one person.”

July 26th – Your Relationship with Finances

Jonathan Harrison

Jonathan Harrison earned his Master’s in Biblical Theology from Maranatha Baptist University, but took plenty of calculus in college for the fun of it. At the time, he had no idea how these left brain and right brain ways of thinking would come together. But God had a plan!

Jonathan and his family moved to Kansas City to help start New Life CityChurch in the Crossroads District. “Things really started to click when I worked at the National Christian Foundation Heartland (NCFH) as a giving concierge,” he says. “I helped high net worth individuals with their philanthropy, which entailed both interesting family dynamics and complex giving. And on the technical side, I developed experience in the charitable arena few advisors can.”

After earning his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation in 2011, Jonathan became a giving advisor, guiding his clients with more complex giving and charitable projects. During his time at NCF, he got to see over a billion dollars given away for charities and nonprofits. “What I enjoyed more than anything was serving those families,” he says. That determination to serve families drove his transition to Sound Stewardship.

Today, as a Financial Planner at Sound Stewardship, Jonathan enjoys guiding his clients in solving problems that can sometimes feel insurmountable. “Money problems can seem overwhelming, complicated and impossible, but I enjoy helping clients as we get through all of that and see that burden roll off their shoulders.”

He and his wife Karen have three children and one dog, an Airedale Terrier. Outside Sound Stewardship, Jonathan enjoys running half marathons, reading and serving as board treasurer for Impact Foundation. He also enjoys working on his family’s 130-year-old home in Kansas City’s Pendleton Heights neighborhood, where he’s active in the community.

August 2nd – Your Relationship with Success, Calling and the Workplace

Tony Totta

Tony Totta is the current Chief Sales Officer for eShipping, a market leader in logistics with a comprehensive supply chain offering a full-service distribution chain management, and based on Parkville, MO. eShipping serves a mission call to “create opportunities for individuals to fulfill their destiny in a way that glorifies God” and embraces the values of Faith, Family, Integrity, Loyalty, and Maximize Potential. What began as a 20-person operation in 2009 today employs over 400 people servicing over $1 billion in logistics across the US.

In 2003, Tony began a career in corporate sales for Lanier Worldwide, based in Atlanta, GA and later entered sales management. In 2006, Lanier Worldwide was absorbed by Ricoh Americas, where Tony continued in Sales Management. In 2009 Tony joined eShipping, a small privately-owned logistic firm, to help build out the company under a mission-focused culture. Over the past 13 years, Tony has filled a variety of roles helping to enable the eShipping growth story: In 2011, Tony transitioned into operations to assume the leadership of eShipping’s Client Services division increasing the suite of operational services as well as building an employee recruiting and development model that is employed across the organization today. In 2013, Tony assisted in the development and launch of eShipping Exchange, a sister company and partnership sales channel. As Chief Sales Officer, he is responsible for all new business development for eShipping, eShipping Distribution, and eShipping Exchange.

Tony received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Clearwater Christian College in Clearwater, Florida; and later a Master of Business Administration degree from The Helzberg School of Management at Rockhurst University, in Kansas City, MO.

Tony grew up in a Christian family and was blessed with the strong value of family tradition and hard work discipline. He found a personal relationship with God in high school and college that began to shape the trajectory of his life. Through personal adversity in 2005, Tony was challenged to live a purpose-driven life lead by his faith. In 2007, Tony and his wife Sarah helped launch New Life CityChurch in downtown Kansas City, MO, and in 2008 Real Life Downtown, a business networking luncheon to encourage faith integration, authenticity of character, and integrity in living.

Tony and his wife of 19 years, Sarah reside in Parkville, MO with their four kids: Anthony, Angelina, Roman, and Dominic.