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GRADUATE RETURNS TO THE MISSION AS CHAPLAIN, PROGRAM ASSISTANT
When Timothy entered the Mission’s Life Recovery Program six years ago, he didn’t imagine he’d still be here all this time later, leading men who are struggling just like he was. In April, Timothy was hired as program assistant at the Mission and is relishing his new role. “I’m so grateful to be back here doing what I learned, what the Lord called me to do when I was here,” he said.
After Timothy graduated the program in 2016, he came on as an intern before taking another job for six months or so. He started volunteering to drive, and soon enough, he was working for the Mission again, driving as well as working at the thrift store.
The Mission wasn’t able to keep Timothy on at a certain point in early 2019. “I was off duty for a while,” he said. “I’d been wanting to get my license and ordination for being a chaplain for some time, but as busy as we are here, I hadn’t had the chance. So I felt I was given that time because God was telling me to step aside for a minute. I took it as, ‘I want you to do this.’”
It was early 2020 and the country was shutting down due to COVID. “They were going to cancel the class, but there were enough people who wanted to do it that we ended up doing it over Zoom,” Timothy said. “It was tough to be in that (online) meeting for 10 hours a day. And we kept having these technological issues. But then we decided to pray over it as a group, and from then on it was smooth sailing— not a single glitch after that.”
Timothy did not grow up in a Christian household. “In fact,” he said, “I had an anti-faith background. So to be in this (class) with people who believe in the Bible, believe Jesus is the way, the truth and the light, it was really cool. That’s the way they teach, and it was really amazing to get that from somewhere besides where I learned it from (the Mission).”
After Timothy earned his license, he did some work for the International Fellowship of Chaplains and took leadership classes at his church. “A couple months ago, they told me they’d like to have me as a leader at the church. I was like, ‘No, no, you guys have the wrong guy,’” Timothy said with a laugh. “It reminds me of a day back in 2016, when I said a prayer with Pastor John (Schmidt, program manager) … I had a change of heart. I gave my life to Jesus in the back room of the program house. Pastor John ended up asking me to oversee the other (transitional living) program. The Lord definitely has a sense of humor.
“For the church, a leader is someone who is following in Jesus’ footsteps. Someone loving, caring, welcoming, committed. I pray for people—there is a group of us. It’s led to a minor opportunity to teach. I’m now a small group leader, once a week, for the men.”
Timothy applied for the new position at the Mission in February. “If you give the Lord time, He will do his thing,” said Timothy, who officially rejoined the Mission as program assistant in April. “It wasn’t very long before Pastor John had to be somewhere first thing in the morning. He asked me, ‘Do you think you could do a devotion?’ It was really cool when I got to do that, speak in front of the guys, telling them about the position I was in when I came in (to the program). I was an unbeliever. I had other plans. And the Lord challenged me.”
Timothy started reading the Bible in November of that year and finished by Christmas. “I didn’t retain the whole thing, but enough to know it was true,” he said. “It broke everything off of me—the anger and the doubt. Talking to the guys, seeing them take notes—it makes me tear up. I was, in 2015, here doing what they are doing now. And here I am talking to them today.
“I’ve been able to come back to the place where I first found the Lord, and I’ve been able to share the fruit. It’s going to be part of their testimony, their time at the Rescue Mission, and what Jesus has been doing with them and for them.”
Timothy has also enjoyed restoration within his family in the last couple years.
“I’ve been talking with my dad since I graduated, and in 2019, he accepted Jesus as his savior too,” he said. “My dad and my little brother hadn’t spoken in 30 years. In 2020, I started talking to my brother, and started telling my dad about talking to my brother … I saw desire between the two of them to reconnect, but they didn’t understand how to do it. Being a chaplain, I talked (them through it). We were able to surprise my dad on Father’s Day (last year). We’ve been talking ever since, like nothing ever happened.”
Timothy has a son, now 12, and is still hoping to reconnect with him. “I’m working with the Lord on that,” he said. “This is what happens when you don’t know the Lord. I made my son’s mom really mad, not that I did it intentionally. … I want to apologize. I am trying to do it God’s way. I’m walking in faith that God is working on her heart, same as he is on mine. I’ll never stop trying to do it in the most loving, Jesus-like way.”
During the pandemic, Timothy started his own YouTube channel. His shows include about 15 minutes of Biblical teaching. “My dream is still to become a pastor—that’s still my pursuit,” he said. “I want to give back, be consistently in prayer, and keep sending the lost and broken here. The Lord has been answering that prayer. I see a season of growth coming.”
Search for Chaplain Timothy’s channel on YouTube under “Timothy Tardie Sr.”