April News

March came in like a lion and it went out about the same! I'm talking about the weather, of course. But ministry-wise, it also came in like a lion; Eleven events in eight days on the We Care Prison Ministry Banquet Tour.

Seven banquets,
two prisons,
one coffee house
and one church service!

Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. It was a blast... and it was profitable (pun intended). Much needed funds were raised for the Chaplains that We Care supports in Alabama.

As I write this, Lydia is in Sarasota where all of our children are right now. Katie is working for “The Amish Baking Co.” making donuts at Florida festivals; Adam is there with The Walking Roots Band for the 50th anniversary of The Lakeland Christian Retreat Center in Bradenton as well as two Sunday church services and Birky Square on Monday night. Amelia went down to support Adam and the band.
Note: I couldn't go because I preached at Light In The Valley Church on Sunday morning, March 29. But I flew down Sunday after church and surprised them as I walked into their “after concert” party. I was able to be at their Birky Square Concert on Monday night. It went well.


Last Sunday we did a very unusual thing... we went to the wrong prison! And they let us in! Unheard of! I have been turned away because my name was spelled wrong on the gate pass (“Schmidt” instead of “Schmid”). I had the wrong kind of pants one time and got sent packing (the same black denims I always wear, but wrong on that particular day with that particular guard). So, to show up unannounced and be let in... the Lord must have wanted us there for some reason. It was a good service, by the way. As we checked in the officer inspected my guitar. He pulled out my capo out of the case (used to change keys on a guitar) and looked at it real close, turned it around a few times and then said, “I used to make these.” The capo has the brand name, “Kyser” stamped on it. I had never paid attention to it. This officer was a neighbor, a friend and an employee of Mr. Kyser at his capo factory! He told us how and where they were made and a bunch of trivia about the capo. We wonder if that is what distracted the front gate enough to allow us enter.


Another first: The Abe Hochstetler family went with me to Marion Correctional. Nine of his eleven children and their spouses plus four married grandchildren went in. Twenty six total volunteers! And all from one family! The chaplain got permission for them to bring cookies in, so after I sang two songs, I introduced Abe and he and the family sang three songs. Then I sang and preached about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and the Hochstetlers closed with a slow Amish church song, Lebt Friedsam! And then cookies! A great, unusual Easter prison chapel service. They loved it! HE IS RISEN!

Common Ground Ministries

John was singing in a country western band at the time of his conversion in 1972. God changed his desire for stardom in Nashville to minitstry.

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