10 Questions with ... Michael Stewart
September 10, 2012
1. So you're the Business Development Director for Inspiration Cruises & Tours. What does that mean? What do you do?
I have the best job in the world! I get to work with Christian Ministries to put together once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences to incredible destinations. My focus is on developing relationships with the ministries and to help them figure out where they want to go.
2. What are some of the places you cruise to?
Alaska, Canada & New England, the Caribbean, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, Mexico, and more ... we go where our ministries want us to take them! In addition to cruises we also regularly do tours of Israel and this summer we have trips that are combining a "Footsteps of Paul" Mediterranean cruise with a "Land of Jesus" Israel tour. We are partnering next summer with PraiseFest Ministries for a missions cruise to Haiti called Cruise with a Cause. It will be the first time a cruise ship has docked in Haiti in over a quarter of a century. Over 3000 people involved in 12 different ministry opportunities during 2 days -- and ending with a massive festival of music and teaching in Port-au-Prince. This cruise will also feature over 20 artist and speakers like Josh McDowell, Steven Curtis Chapman, Fred Hammond, NewSong, Kari Jobe, Johnny Hunt and Donnie McClurkin.
3. What are the differences between what you guys do and other cruise companies?
One is we have been in this business for over 30 years and are experts in travel management for almost any kind of event (not just cruises). We focus not only on the needs of the passengers, but we are also here to serve the ministries. Our Christian leaders give so much day-in and day-out; they need vacations too -- and we are here to make that happen. Our travel events center around a particular speaker or artist. For example, we recently did an Alaskan cruise with Third Day and Max Lucado. We also regularly do cruises and tours for Michael W. Smith, the Gaithers, Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Greg Laurie, Bob Coy, Tony Evans, and many others.
4. Hey, you've got something coming up here shortly that is a new "partnership" of sorts, right? Tell me about that.
Yes I am getting married on September 22 to my best friend Sandra Bragg just a few miles from the civil war surrender grounds in Appomattox, VA. Which I guess is appropriate since she is originally from Michigan and I am originally from Kentucky.
5. So, is there a personal cruise coming up in your future? Where would be your destination of choice?
I think in addition to the Cruise with a Cause event I would like to go on a Mediterranean Cruise.
6. Where did you go to school?
Liberty University -- at the time it was Liberty Baptist College and there were only a few thousand students then and there wasn't a campus. Classes were held in a church and dorms were an old youth camp and a civil war era hotel.
7. What are some jobs you've held, places you've been, wars you've won?
I have been a youth pastor, a single adult pastor, worked for a missions organization (World Help), for a women's event (Extraordinary Women), served for 8 years as the Dean of Student Life at Liberty or as Dr. Jerry Falwell use to call me the "Dean of Fun". I had my own event planning, promotion and production business and in 2002 started Liberty's New Year's Eve festival -- WinterFest.
8. What are some of your hobbies? What do you like to do when you're not working?
It is not typically thought of as a very masculine thing but I enjoy gardening. Sandra's youngest son Andrew calls me "the plant man". It has always been a bit of a stress reducer for me.
9. Favorite sports teams, and how you arrived at being a fan.
Growing up in Paducah, KY (that is located in Western KY between Possum Trout and Monkey's Eyebrow), it was required to be a UK Wildcats Basketball fan and also a St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan. Last year I was able to see a UK basketball game (National Champions) and a Cardinals game (World Series Champions) with my dad.
10. If you could spend an hour with any living person, who would that be and why? What would you want to talk with them about?
Probably my Dad, Gerald Stewart. His experience and insight into life, both professional and personal, has been and continues to be invaluable to me! I enjoy being with him and learning from his life's journey.
11. Who are the three greatest mentors in your lifetime?
My Father Gerald Stewart, my high school Youth Pastor, and Doug Randlett. Doug is my former boss in Single Adult Ministry and now the Executive Pastor @ Thomas Road Baptist Church. He is performing our wedding ceremony.
1. Favorite Cereal
Cap'n Crunch, I was eating that long before the Newsboys started singing about Breakfast in Hell.
2. Favorite Cartoon
Really anything Warner Brother, Bugs Bunny etc. but hands down the Road Runner!
3. Phrase that the bumper sticker on your car SHOULD say
USE Your CRUISE.