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“I knew this young man when he was 6 years old.” Two inmates were standing in front of the chapel after I had given an invitation. They were waiting until everyone was finished praying so they could speak to the congregation before the yard was opened and the chaplain would release them to go to supper. When the prayer time was over the chaplain looked up and nodded for them to step up to the mike ...
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This past weekend, September 23, 2017, the world was scheduled to end. David Meade prophesied that a planet was going to smash into earth and destroy the world. Since you are reading this, you probably realize that it didn’t happen. Not to worry: Meade has rescheduled this collision for the end of October...
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The story is told of a Scotish farmer named Fleming who heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. A young boy was stuck in the black muck up to his waist and was screaming for help. Farmer Fleming helped the boy out. The next day an elegant carriage stopped at the farmer’s house. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out...
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In the Klondike Gold Rush in Alaska around 1896, the Canadian Mounted Police would not allow anyone to enter the Yukon region unless he had a year’s supply of food and equipment. (No Yukon Wal-Marts in those days.) These men would hike up the steep, icy, muddy, narrow Chilkoot Pass carrying about 65 lbs. of goods, drop their load off at the top of the hill and go back down for another load until they had about 2000 lbs. of food & equipment at the top. After 30 trips up and 30 trips back down...
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The Drimoleague Methodist Church in Ireland is a relatively small building with stone walls that are two feet thick. The sanctuary is about the size of my timber frame barn/office: 24’ X 36 (?). “It was built in 1865 as a result of the Revival of 1859,” the locals told me. “The Revival of 1859?!” I asked. And then I started hearing the stories of this amazing move of God. The Revival started in Northern Ireland and spread over the whole country. A group of people got saved here in Drimoleague and began meeting west of town...
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Samuel Morris

In Bolivia last week David Harriman told about a man who knelt in front of a tombstone and prayed, “Lord, give me the same spirit that you gave this man, Samuel Morris.” Samuel Morris was born Prince Kaboo in 1873 in Liberia, Africa, the son of a Kru tribal chieftain. As a child, he was captured by an enemy tribe. They demanded his father bring them a present each month if they wanted to see their prince again. His father brought a present each month, but it was never enough. When he could bring no more, Kaboo was beaten every day.
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The Consequences of One Wrong Choice

Last week, we sat in a cold, oppressive courtroom. Hushed words were spoken and little emotion was shown on the solemn faces of attorneys and investigators. The defendant’s family members sat on the front rows on the right side of the room. We sat on the left side, supporting the widowed spouse, her grieving parents, in-laws, brothers, sisters and close friends of the deceased victim- a young man; a fireman and soon-to-be first time father. He was senselessly murdered two years ago.
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Fourteen year old Timmy Kane was watching SuperBowl XXVI in 1992 with two older boys when one of them said, “We’re going to go rob a house!” With no thought of consequences, Timmy foolishly went with them. By the time he realized what these older boys were actually going to do, it was too late. “You’re not going anywhere,” ordered 19 year-old Alvin Morton when Tim wanted to leave. As he hid under the dining room table, he heard the shotgun blasts.
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The prison band at St. Clair Correctional in Alabama is about as good as it gets. They play like professionals, they have written songs and they even have a music video of their band that has gone to churches outside the walls. At our We Care Revival chapel service there last week (Jan 25), they sang a song for Bullet Bob. “You guys remember Bob?” the guitar player asked. A cheer of recognition went up from the prison chapel.
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I visited my friend, Joe Miller, Jr., in the hospital in 2002 after a bicycle/car accident. Tubes, beeping machines, hissing sounds and liquids in hanging bottles surrounded him in his ICU room. He was unresponsive. “He may not make it,” I thought. He didn’t. I resolved right there in that hospital room,,,
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No matter where you stand politically, you may have noticed that in the last few months that the main stream media has not been very accurate in their attempt at prophesy. They haven’t even done a very good job of simply reporting the news. In the recent presidential election they reported that Donald Trump would not run. Then they reported that he would not last two weeks. Then they gave him two months. Then they reported that he was a fraud. He’s a decoy,
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Several miles from where I grew up, and about the same distance from where I now live, there is a flow of water beside State Route 83 known as Butler’s Spring. It’s a couple of miles north of Holmesville and most of my life, if you looked real close (and quick) as you drove by, you could notice a small white cross a few feet up the hill from the spring.
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I sang a few songs, including Howard Grey, at the Belmont Prison Chapel service on Sunday, and then I invited the volunteers who came with me to introduce themselves and share whatever God laid on their hearts. Here is what Atlee Mast shared...
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Henry Clay Morrison was a Methodist preacher before he became president of Asbury College and founded Asbury Theological Seminary in 1923. This is his story of a remarkable women in his first parish in Stanford, Ky. around 1887.
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HOWARD GREY: 1948-2016

I heard of Howard Grey at a Ramblin' Jack Elliot concert in the fatigued basement of one of the stately College of Wooster buildings in 1990. Neighbor Ed Schrock had tickets to hear this legendary folk singer and invited me to go along. We sat at tables with random folks and one of the 'randoms' at our table was Gary Hall, a singer. “You're the man who sings 'Howard Grey!” Ed exclaimed. “Yes, that would be me,” answered Gary.
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In 1986 our son, Adam, was in Millersburg hospital. It was just a few days shy of his first birthday, and since he didn't talk yet, he couldn't tell us where it hurt or what was wrong. He just writhed in pain and threw up.

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Every now and then I hear a story that encourages me to keep going. I plan going to keep going, no matter what, but encouragement always helps. I received this letter recently:

Hello John and Lydia,
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Si Hoc Legere Scis Nimium Eruditionis Habes
(Per contra, Scientia est Potentia)
Translation: “If you can read this, you have too much education.
(On the other hand, knowledge is power).”

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” - Albert Einstein
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On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, a tornado hit Lancaster County, Pa. Fifty buildings were damaged or destroyed. One of the completely destroyed buildings was the Whitehall Amish School House. On Monday, February 29, classes were held in the new building! Yes, folks, it took three days to clean up the destruction and build the new building! The students missed two days of school! News reports that more than 1000 volunteers showed up around Lancaster County on Thursday to help where they could. That is community!
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I went to school with Bob and Cheryl Moeller, who now live in Chicago. Cheryl showed me this letter she received from a Native American friend. I asked permission to reprint it here.
From Shirley Duncan, National Church Representative Hephzibah Children's Home Ministries
Hello Cheryl...
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A look at 2015 A.D. in my rear view mirror: JANUARY- *The year started out with my 90 year old Dad in a rest home after suffering a stroke in December while on a fishing trip to Florida with brother Steve. He rallied a couple of times, but passed into God's presence on Feb. 4th. A good dad. He gave us a great childhood. I miss him everyday.
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“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed...” The Christmas Story! It is told in Luke 2, which I memorized in fourth grade. With a little practice, I can still recite the first 20 verses.
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Three days ago I was at an Amish wedding in Lancaster, Pa. An “old” man shook my hand and called me by name. “Have we met?” I asked. He told me his name, but I didn't recognize it. Knowing that most of the Lancaster boys had nicknames, I asked if he had one. He hesitated and grinned. “Ketchup,” he said. “Ketchup! Yes! I remember you! Florida!” We ran with the same bunch of youth in Pinecraft forty some years ago! I had never heard his real name. We reminisced until the wedding started.
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I had the privilege to be on the Sing & Sail Cruise to New England, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick last week. One of the musicians was Eduard Klassen, who grew up in a Russian Mennonite Colony in the jungles of Paraguay. He is now an internationally known harpist, traveling all over the world, playing his harp (not a harmonica- a real harp) and telling his story.
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Mike Swiger got a frantic call from his brother. “I got in a fight with my best friend, and I killed him!” Mike jumped in his car and drove the several hours to the college where his brother was attending. “What are we going to do?!” Mike knew what the right thing to do was, but his love for his brother clouded his sense of right and wrong. He helped his brother cover up the crime. They lied to the police.
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He built not only solid buildings, Benedict built a solid life. He was a builder, a preacher, a teacher, a 'mayor' of sorts, a leader in the community, a friend to all. When he learned in 1830 that an Amish boy, Wilhelm Bender, was an indentured servant [that is: slave] near Baltimore, he rode his horse the 190 miles and paid the farmer the remaining several year's wages to “redeem” him.
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I saw the Cathedral of Worms in Germany, last week, where Martin Luther was put on trial in 1521 for standing against the heresy of the church. He stood alone against the whole world as he was asked, “Did you write these books?” “Yes.” “Do you recant?” Luther must have swallowed hard, but history says that he looked at the authorities and said..
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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!
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HOMER SCHMID 1924-2015

“Another member of the Greatest Generation drops out of formation...” -Brad Fisher (My cousin)

Dad passed into eternity in the early hours of Feb. 4, 2015. He was 90 years old and relatively healthy until December. He lived by himself until last summer when he took in a boarder who needed a place to rent, but also who helped Dad fill the lonely hours. He suffered a hard stroke in December, rallied for a while, but then started to fail in February. The professionals and family called in Hospice, who made him comfortable in his last days and hours.
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THE ACTS OF AN APOSTLE (or... My January Schedule)

For the last 15 years, every January we go to Sarasota to sing at the Christian Fellowship Mission Haiti Fund Raiser Concert with The Inspirations- of Bryson City, NC. It is an honor and a pleasure to be a part of this vital ministry and to become friends with such a well known and 'real' quartet. (Not all well known groups are “real.”) This concert blew my theory of how to book a concert. I never liked going to the same place two years in a row because I thought the people would get tired of me
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This November I went to Costa Rica for a reunion of the Young Life group. Those students are now in their 40's. I went a week early so I would have time to look up friends and former students and I am happy to report that many of our “disciples” are doing well. I thought of 3 John 4: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth.” Here is a report on some of our former students and friends:
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Is. 55:11

In the last year we spent over $20,000 sending correspondence Bible Study Courses to Ohio Prisons.

Question: Do they do any good? Last week our area grading coordinator, Mary Mast, forwarded this note that was attached to a Bible Study that she graded:
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“You sang that song two years ago when you were here and it really got me to thinking.”

I had just come off stage from my half hour slot at the London Correctional Freedom Rally, which is put on every two years jointly by Common Ground Ministries and The Gospel Echoes Team from Goshen, IN. The bearded inmate with no upper teeth, lots of tattoos and bright eyes, was smiling as he thanked us for coming.
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On Tuesday, August 12, we got the tragic news that our friend, Orley Miller, was killed in a freak horse and wagon accident while driving some of his family through an animal park near Berlin. A week later, I was having breakfast at the Mt. Hope Auction when the phone rang. It was Lydia.
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Do you shop at Amazon? Did you know that you can support your favorite Charity when you shop? Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to John Schmid Common Ground Ministries Inc whenever you shop on AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same Amazon Prime benefits. Support your charitable organization by starting your shopping at



I left Benton, Ohio on Sunday afternoon, June 1, and stuck my front bicycle wheel in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday evening, June 6. I had challenged you folks to pledge per mile and I estimated that the trip would be 500 miles. The pledges added up to $27.00 per mile ($13,500) to be used for our transportation needs. When I went to perform the symbolic “wheel in the ocean” ceremony, I noticed that my odometer read 499½ miles. So I rode a half mile farther down the beach and held the ceremony there! Yes, folks. It was 500 miles! And it wouldn't have been 500 if I hadn't got lost a couple of times on the way. Keep Reading >>



If all goes well, by the time you read this, I will be on my bicycle tour to the east coast. Last summer I peddled from Seattle to Benton, and this summer I intend to finish the “Coast to Coast” tour and at the same time raise funds for our transportation needs. So far you have pledged $24.00 per mile. That's $12,000! Thank you!


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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 Berlin, Ohio 44610
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