Ministry in Everyday Encounters
For Jacob Ruchotzke, it is his everyday encounters that have become his ministry.
Raised in a Christian home with parents who were always involved in ministry, Ruchotzke accepted Christ while in the first grade. A few years later, his father moved the family from Cedar Hill, Texas to Kansas City and took a job as the associate pastor of what is now City Center Church.
Remaining in Kansas City after his graduation, Ruchotzke attended a local trade school and took a job as a production reporter for 10 years. During this time, he met his wife, Sarah, and the couple moved to Crane, Missouri so he could work for a local Christian TV station. While there, Ruchotzke’s life took a turn as he worked through a diagnosis for massive depression.
“The depression almost institutionalized me,” he shares. “If it hadn’t been for people lifting me up in prayer, I don’t know that I would have come out of it.” Jacob caught a passion for the power of prayer.
Ruchotzke joined the staff of Ash Grove Assembly of God as the Director of Media Ministry, under the leadership of Tim Pipkin. Pipkin states, “due to some things that were happening, Jacob began to spend a lot of time in prayer, and this really changed his personal life.”
As he began to see victory over his depression, Ruchotzke returned to work, but knew that God was going to use him for even more.
“One day my sister-in-law called me and said that she felt like God was saying I was going to get a new car and, in a few months, I would be used in ministry,” he says. So, Ruchotzke and his wife took the matter before the Lord in prayer and, although they had not previously been thinking about buying a new car, began to start browsing the market to see what was available.
“We went to a Honda dealership and the first car they pulled out was really nice, you know with all the bells and whistles,” he states. Although this was never the kind of car that Ruchotzke wanted, as he prefers to drive older vehicles, he began to feel a tug in his spirit to purchase the car.
“I knew I was going to have to bring in a little extra income to cover the payments,” he says, “but it just felt like what I was supposed to do.”
Ruchotzke decided to use the car to help bring in the necessary additional income and began to drive with a well-known transportation service. He started praying over the car before every shift and every time he saw the name of the individual he would be transporting, he prayed for him or her as well.
“That is when the coolest encounters started happening,” says Ruchotzke.
While downtown one evening, Ruchotzke recalls picking up a young kid who had been drinking and had just had a run in with law enforcement. The boy asked to be driven home but disclosed that he was afraid to tell his parents what had happened.
“I could tell he was shaken up so I just started talking to him about the grace and forgiveness of God,” he says. “He let me pray destiny over his life for 15 minutes and at the end he looked so calm and told me that he felt a sense of peace and relief.” As he pulled into his destination, Ruchotzke reminded his passenger that God had a special plan for his life.
Another encounter happened in the early morning hours as Ruchotzke drove a gentleman home from a bar.
“As we drove, I started to ask the man how he was doing and he told me that he was having all kinds of domestic issues with his girlfriend,” he recalls. As they pulled into the driveway, Ruchotzke asked if he could pray with the man and the man immediately reached up, grabbed his hand, and said yes. As they began praying, the man’s girlfriend came out and tried to initiate a loud domestic quarrel. Ruchotzke looked at the woman and said, “God has you tonight, can I pray with you?” The woman instantly started sobbing, agreed, and as the three ended their prayer, whispered that she needed to change.
Ruchotzke states that there are dozens more stories of such encounters.
“If we open our eyes and see the value in people, God can use us,” he says. “It’s not our job to make them receive it,” he goes on, “but it is our job to present the opportunity to them, invite them in, and then leave it to God.”
Ruchotzke states that he feels honored and humbled that God has chosen to use him to help people, just like He used people and their prayers to help him when he was facing his debilitating depression.
“With everything that Jacob has gone through,” says Pipkin, “I have noticed his desire to lift others up in prayer and share Christ with them. His new ministry has opened a door through which the Holy Spirit is using him for great things.”