leadership team


Senior Pastor

Dr. Jim Johnston

My wife, Lisa, and I are so happy to be part of the Camelback family.

I began following Jesus as a young boy in Minnesota, and we soon moved back to France where my parents served as missionaries. Some of my earliest memories are waking up early and heading downstairs to read the Bible with my dad on his lap.

We moved from France to Deerfield, IL while I was in grade school, so I grew up in the Chicago suburbs. I attended Wheaton College (1988) and went on to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for a M.Div. and eventually a Ph.D. (New Testament). Our family spent a memorable year at Tyndale House, Cambridge, where I worked on my dissertation. I have been a pastor for some
30 years.

Lisa and I met when I was the Singles Pastor at College Church in Wheaton, IL—that’s a fun story for another time! We have been married since 1996 and God has blessed us with four wonderful children: Claire, Julia, Sarah, and Andrew.

I love hiking, reading, long road trips, and National Parks. But most of all, I love the church. I look forward to meeting you!

jjohnston@camelbackbible.com | 602-955-6370

Pastor of Discipleship

Ron Elwardt

I moved here from Wisconsin (Go Packers! Go Badgers!) with my wife, Ruth, in June of 1989. At the time, our daughter Megan was five years old, and our other daughter Becca was only two.

I moved here to pursue my Masters in Divinity at Western Seminary – Phoenix. I’d previously been prepared with degrees in Education (Bachelors from Wheaton College, Masters from Northern Illinois University) but the true desire of my heart was to be prepared biblically and theologically for the work of the church.

Since moving here, I have been privileged to serve at Camelback Bible Church. It was my joy to watch my girls and a generation of Camelback children grow up learning of the riches of Christ. It is thrilling to work with a team of dedicated parents and other volunteers – all pouring out our lives to see children come to know Jesus!

It is a great privilege to have served the same community for so many years and to see another generation (including my grandchildren) growing up to know and love the Lord.

I can think of no greater goal in life than to pursue a knowledge of Christ, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude I’ll never repay. By His grace I hope to continue to point others to the abundance of life that comes in knowing Jesus.

relwardt@camelbackbible.com | 602-955-6370, ext. 101

Pastor of Music and Worship

Dr. Luke Lusted

I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where I grew up in a Methodist church. After graduating high school, I moved to Ruston, LA to pursue a Bachelor of Music Education degree at Louisiana Tech University. While attending school there, I was involved in the music ministry of a local church. It was here that God placed upon my heart the desire to lead and serve in the church. After undergrad, I moved to Tucson to study at the University of Arizona where I earned the Master of Music and the Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Choral Conducting.

While finishing my DMA, I served as Assistant Director of Tucson Chamber Artists. It was during this time that I not only sang at Camelback for a concert, but also met Guy Whatley, where he began to share with me all of the ministries opportunities. It was apparent that there was something special about Camelback – the rich soil on which Camelback was harvesting such spiritual fruit and the caliber of music and worship with which we, the body, exalt Christ.

Throughout my career, I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve in many musical capacities, which include Artistic Director of a large choral organization, chorister in professional choirs, and composer and clinician for schools and churches across the country. Although I thoroughly enjoy the professional and academic environment, there is nothing quite like pastoring and using the gifts with which I have been blessed to glorify Him and His kingdom. It is humbling to accept the call to become the Pastor of Worship and Music at Camelback and I feel truly blessed in doing so.

Most recently, God has blessed me with a beautiful wife, Jennifer. We look forward to beginning our lives together in Phoenix and at Camelback and are eager to see where the Lord will lead us.

llusted@camelbackbible.com | 602-955-6370, ext. 103

Pastor of Students

Bijan L. Mahlouji

I grew up in a Christian home where my family went to church every Sunday and I attended a Christian school as well. Ever since my elementary school days, God put in my heart a conviction of His holiness and my sinfulness. As I got older, I began to see my sin more and more, but I also began to see how God’s grace went deeper and deeper.

It was in High School that I felt a call to ministry in general, but also to youth in particular, which brought me to Grand Canyon University. There I met my wife Amy and we got married in 2015. The Lord brought Amy and I to Louisville to attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where I graduated with my Masters of Divinity. During these times, the Lord blessed us with three beautiful and joy-inducing children: Eliana, Levi, and Lucille. We are both excited and full of joy to be at Camelback Bible Church and see how God will work among the youth.

bmahlouji@camelbackbible.com | 602-955-6370, ext. 102


Gary Balok
Mark Ortman
Rollie Leeman
Nate Perkins
John Milligan
Scott Whyte
Chuck Patton
Clay Connor


Director of Administration
Jon Rich
Director of Contemporary Worship
Austin Bratton
Administrative Assistant
Nika Osuna
Administrative Assistant
Aubrianna Stough
Facilities Manager
Paul McNutt
Facilities Assistant
Tobin Huizenga
Mikayla Abrams
Organist & Director of Camelback Concert Series
Guy Whatley

Stay Tuned with Updates