When Charles Wise first asked me to help put together his bio for this website, I started to launch into the typical biographical information. But, we’ve all read that before. Does it honestly give you a better picture of the person than when you started? I would wager not. Instead, I want to share with you what I think of Mr. Charles (as my kids call him).
Charles Wise loves God. He is passionately in love with his wife. He is a loving and strong father to his two children. And he loves God’s people. That is not just a set of statements written to sound, well, lovely. They are the absolute truth. I have worked closely with Charles for almost a decade now. We have traveled around the country, speaking and teaching and vision casting and eating BBQ. We have ridden together in vans for fourteen hours, cars for ten hours, and planes for four hours. We have sat in small prayer rooms and big sanctuaries. And we have sat across the table from each other at a LOT of meals. Day in, day out I saw the same exact person.
You learn a lot when you travel with a person – it can bring out the worst in them. But not Charles. He is always joyful, praising God, and thankful to have a chance to serve. He loves teaching. He loves working with people and seeing their lives change. In his heart, he wants to see them discover God in a powerful way. He is a prayer warrior. He is always reading God’s Word. He constantly listens to sermons, wanting to discover even more about Jesus. This doesn’t make him weird or unenjoyable to be around. Instead, people are always drawn to him. It could be a waitress, a desk clerk, a fellow plane passenger, a complete stranger. They all are pulled to the Jesus that is alive in him. Personally, I love spending time with Charles because I walk away refreshed and strengthened. So I can see why people respond the way they do.
Professionally, Charles has used his natural charisma, his God-given joy, and his love for people to create multiple avenues to reach people with the life-changing message of the Gospel. For twenty years, he has served as licensed mental health counselor. Thousands of people have spilled their hearts out in a room with him as he prayerfully considered what wisdom could offer healing. Sometimes he is extremely gracious and merciful. At other times, he has to be harder and confrontational. So many lives have been touched. Charles founded Pathway Counseling Ministry as the nation’s first integrated auxiliary of the local church. That means that Pathway can establish sites at churches anywhere and still be covered by non-profit guidelines. Pathway has partnered with dozens of churches in Central Florida and Eastern Tennessee since its inception. But counseling was not the end of Charles’ vision to reach people.
For roughly 18 months in 2004 and 2005, Charles was unable to speak – a real problem for a therapist! During that time, Charles spent a lot of time praying and learning about God’s desire for intimacy with His people. He also observed how God’s people have lost their craving for an intimate relationship with God. When Charles regained his voice, he used it to call people back to that close personal walk with God. He did this through other ministries under Pathway’s umbrella. Defender Ministries was founded in 2005 to help students, parents, and churches deal with issues of media, pornography, sex, and technology. Butterfly House worked to help abused women. Legacy Builders was established to help men rediscover their ability to lead and serve. And the Pathway Ranch was created to minister to ministers, giving them a place to be renewed and restored. Pathway also used its resources and influence to help other ministries and groups reach people in their own communities – like Rethreaded in Jacksonville, Fresh Start Ministries in Central Florida, and Narrow Gate in Tennessee.
I love Charles Wise. He is one of the truest friends I have ever known and most genuine men I have ever encountered. The impact he has made on my life can never be measured. And I am just one of thousands who can say that. In the words of Gladiator, what he has done here on earth will echo into eternity. I can’t imagine anything making Charles happier than to have that statement be true.
Rev. David Staples | Co-Founder of Defender Ministries