With our latest hire, we are fortunate not to just be adding one, but four people to the PMI team! TJ McCloud is joining PMI as our Regional Director in Central America. TJ will be moving to Nicaragua with his wife, Holly, and two children, Ian and Isla.
We had the joy of hosting TJ and Holly at our US headquarters last week. There’s a lot more than meets the eye with this couple, as we found out in an exclusive interview with TJ. Check it out.
Why do you want to work for PMI?
I was really impressed with the vision for sustainable healthcare access. In my work and travel, whether it has been short-term or long-term, it’s been really clear that access to healthcare can absolutely change people’s lives. It allows them to take care of their families. It allows them to start businesses and be involved in other people’s lives. When your access to healthcare is so fragile or nonexistence, one little thing cannot just ruin your life, but it can take your life. As Holly and I thought about what are some areas where we feel passionate and want to get involved with in the developing world, healthcare was definitely on the top of the list. I’m not necessarily a healthcare guy; I’ve been involved in music and ministry and missions, but I do know that being able to encourage, support and sustain the development of PMI’s work is going to change a lot of people’s lives. That’s an exciting role.
Tell us a little bit about your background:
My wife and I are originally from Oklahoma. She bounced around, but both our families have roots there. I have lived in Nashville for the last 10 years off and on. During that time, I worked and lived in the Dominican Republic for 3 of those years, all while staying connected to our Nashville community.
I was originally a singer/songwriter. I spent about 8 years touring and recording professionally, first with a band and then as a solo artist. Those experiences continued to deepen my love for travel and the developing world. I got to see places I would have never seen otherwise.
Could you tell us a little bit more about your band?
Music has always been a creative outlet for me. Somewhere in high school I realized that girls really like guys who play guitar and sing, and people would actually pay me to do it. That realization set me on a 10-year journey of playing music. It’s how I got through school. My band was a regional act through TX, OK, Kansas and Arkansas. Then one day we got a phone call from this lady with a funny accent. She said, “is this TJ McCloud of the band Stephen Speaks?” Come to find out she was from a band management group in Manila and we had a number 1 hit and a platinum album in the Philippines and other parts of Asia. We ended up having several number 1 hits in the Philippines and toured there several times. Here we were, college students, eating ramen and sleeping through our finals; then we showed up to the Philippines and were treated like rock stars. It was the most surreal experience of my life.
How did you make the transition into mission work?
Holly and I have been married 11 years now. We met on a mission trip to the DR. During that time we both fell in love with each other and with the developing world. It’s been a shared passion of ours all our lives. One of the things I was originally drawn to about Holly is that she was so interested and excited about the world and wanted to jump into it. And I did too.
At some point, we felt like we wanted to transition to fulltime missions. That’s when we moved to the DR and started a youth outreach center there. We focused on mentoring, education and spiritual development programs for street children.
What is one of the biggest lessons you learned during your time in the DR?
People are capable of anything if they have the right resources and encouragement. We spent a lot of time around kids who did not think of themselves well, did not expect much of themselves nor have access to adequate resources. We found when some of those things were augmented (when we helped them access, were able to pour into their lives and help them see themselves in healthy ways) they could do anything.
Do any of the kids you worked with stick out in your memory?
One of our kids, a guy named Randy, loved baseball. All Dominicans love baseball, but there was something really special about this kid. He was from a rough background, had a hard time at home and was wild on the streets, but everyday he would go to the field with his duct tape baseball glove and play.
I got a Facebook message from Randy last year. He had been called up from Dominican League and was playing AAA ball in Kentucky for the Twins. He was obviously special, had special talent. It was a really cool thing to see him succeed and to know somehow we were a part of that. God used us somehow, and that’s really exciting. The ministry is still going strong (Manna Global Ministries).
So then what?
After the DR, we moved back to the states, and I worked in a church doing young adult spiritual development. I really enjoyed that. Young adults have such an awesome ability to do things that others can’t, because they have not set their feet firmly in one thing. They have the ability to do a lot of different things and make an impact. Some of our young adults were really excited about clean water, and that group has started a water ministry that has built 1500 wells.
All those experiences continued to reveal a deeper desire to be involved in developing world ministry. So now one of my favorite things is to combine the two – to use creative arts in the developing world. I’m excited to get down and meet some local musicians in Nicaragua and make some music with local kids.