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Mission Celebrates 10 Years With Pastor John at the Helm of the Program

Jan 30, 2019

Pastor John Schmidt, program manager, hit a big milestone recently: In December, he celebrated 10 years at the mission. “When I started, there were 25 guys at the ranch (the mission’s former location), and it was just me. I was the only staff member,” John said. “It’s been wonderful. We have such a great staff—they just love these guys to life.”

While John wasn’t looking for a job—he was a full-time pastor—he felt called to it. “I come out of that background myself, of addiction, and a non-Christian environment,” John said. “I thought this would be a great thing to be involved in, helping people out of addiction, off the streets, out of prison. I know it’s my job, but it’s always been my passion first.”

John grew up with his “own issues,” he said. “I had a rough childhood, didn’t graduate, didn’t have any Christian influence. My brother and sister became Christians when I was 12 and I thought they had lost their minds. I had rejected the Lord. I didn’t want to believe in him. I couldn’t figure out how God, if he is love, how he would allow that stuff to happen to me.”

After nearly 10 years of John’s brother talking to him about God, he cracked. “I had been up for seven straight days and I got a hold of my brother and he asked me to go to church with him. I was standing in my place alone, and when I said ‘Yes,’ I knew that I was actually saying ‘yes’ to the Lord.”

John went to church, a little dance hall with about 40 people inside, and stood up publicly. He went into a discipleship home, where he says his life was “revolutionized. That’s where I learned about the love of Jesus Christ. It melted away years of bitterness, anger. It changed my life.”

John said he has contact with probably 140 of the men who have come through the program. “We keep track of our guys. These relationships are eternal. When they leave, they are always in touch. They’ve connected, not just with me, but with the mission, the other graduates. The passion and focus that we’ve always had is the relationship side. To us, they become of our lives, become of our family’s lives.”

John said it’s easy to make judgments on the mission’s clientele. “One of the misconceptions people draw, not intentionally, but they think, ‘Man, these guys are homeless. They are just a bunch of guys who have an addiction.’ But these are men who have lost all hope because of their brokenness. They come to us with their own self-worth completely depleted. They aren’t just homeless or incarcerated—they are someone’s son, father, grandfather, sibling.”

John said the mission’s supporters are changing lives. “My burden is to help those who are reading, wondering, giving, to realize that behind the scenes, not always in forefront, there are lives being incredibly, eternally, verifiably changed. A lot is happening because of their generosity. They don’t always get to see it, but it’s happening. It’s an incredible blessing.

“In reality, none of these testimonies, none of these lives would be changed without them. We wouldn’t have the opportunity to do this without them—it’s a powerful thing and a wonderful thing. We may never be able meet these people who give, but one of these days we will—in the presence of the Lord.”

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