My Story by Pastor Dennis Schmitt
I had the privilege of growing up on a farm in a small community in Dubuque County. There was a Bible in our house, but it was almost never read. Instead, it was mainly used for the simple purpose of recording births and deaths.
I attended church weekly as a child, but as I grew older, I decided that I didn’t need church. At age 18, I joined the Army and that’s when I started down the path of substance abuse. After I was discharged, I got a job making more money than I had ever seen before and felt like I could do anything I wanted for the first time in my life. I believed the lie, “You only live once, so go for the gusto!” You do only live once but I was using that as an excuse to live an ungodly life. I was drawn more and more into the world and lived only to please myself. I tried everything the world said would make me happy but it didn’t work.
One day, I found a tract at my work place and read it. I prayed the prayer to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior and started reading the bible and going to church but, unfortunately, that didn’t last long. I gradually quit and was drawn back into the world.
After approximately five years of digressing, being miserably selfish and chasing away everyone who loved me, I finally hit bottom. I cried out in pain, “Nobody cares about me!” To my complete surprise, I heard a voice in my heart and knew it was Jesus speaking to me – the same Jesus who I had betrayed for the last five years. He said, “I love you, and I have always loved you.” My whole life changed that day. I decided to truly give my life to Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I began to read His Word daily, applying His principles in my life, and began to attend church every Sunday.
That’s when I also decided, after all He had done for me, there would never be any job too small or too large that I would not do for Him. Tasks as simple as taking out the garbage and washing dishes or as important as helping other hurting people were all ways of me being able to thank the Lord for His grace poured out on me.
I found a new joy and peace that I had never known before. God began to put my broken life back together. After going through all the heartaches I brought on myself, I now had a desire to help other hurting people and asked God to show me how to do this. I was hoping to lead a small group of 2 or three people but God had a bigger plan. In 1992, I became Pastor of Dubuque Community Church. It was a small group then but God has blessed us tremendously and we have steadily continued to grow.
I now have the joy of daily encouraging and challenging God’s people to read God’s Word and apply it in their lives. I am now able to share the wonderful message, “God has always loved you and He always will!”