The news of Dr. Rudy Rasmus and wife, Pastor Juanita Rasmus, transitioning from their senior pastor roles at St. John’s Downtown Church came as a surprise to many. But should it have been so shocking?
For over 30 years this dynamic duo has preached a message of, to borrow the title of Juanita’s book, “Learning to Be,” with self, God and God’s constant urging to move seekers into the next episode of their spiritual journey.
From that perspective, the move Rudy is making, joining Bread of Life, Inc. as executive director, makes all the sense in the world.
“This is not a retirement, but rather a ‘rewirement,’” Dr. Rasmus said to several members of local media, assuring all who have ears that though his stint at St. John’s has come to an end, his and his wife’s hearts for service remain as strong as ever.
Juanita’s “rewirement” will take the form of concentrating on a national public speaking tour and her books. Recently, she shared via a Facebook post, just days before their last Sunday as St. John’s senior pastors, her gratefulness for their St. John’s ministry legacy.
“I am so grateful for the privilege of having been able to work together for 31 years,” she said of her work with her husband, who she described as “an amazing coworker, cofounder and copastor.”
“I never imagined that we would get to do the work we have done, but God gave us the capacity to split the list of to-do’s. We each were able to bring our gifts, grit, and grin to just the right areas.”
During their 30th anniversary of St. John’s ministry celebration last September, the Defender asked the couple to share their most memorable ministry moment.
“The most memorable was the first day we got here,” she said. “Rudy called me and he said, ‘Baby, this is the place.’ We knew God was calling us to ministry. We didn’t know where it was gonna be. We had a sense it was gonna be urban. We had no idea exactly where and what it would look like. So, that’s been absolutely the image that has guided us and has empowered us in this time, and has for me been the most meaningful. It was the place where we knew we were called to serve the least, the last, the lost and the left out.”
Rudy said the 30-year anniversary was “a reminder that we haven’t wasted our time; that we have been here and have touched lives in many cases that we would never, ever meet and even more cases that we’ll never see the outcome. But just to know that our work hasn’t been in vain here over these 30 years.”
Their September words might also have been a preview of the couple’s current decision to move to their ministry’s next phase.
“We have 30 years of experience that has been purchased with a lot of heartache, purchased with some pain, and also purchased with some occasional success. And as a result, we think we can combine all of those collective experiences to impact this community even greater on the road ahead,” said Rudy.
“For me, the way the future gets summed up is the way the scripture always sums up the future, Jeremiah 29:11: ‘I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord. Plans not to harm you, but rather plans to prosper you.’ And one verse says ‘Plans to give you a hope and a future you never could have imagined on your own.’ So, for me, that’s what the future is. It’s expansive and it’s yet to even be experienced,” said Pastor Juanita.
A huge cog in the 30-year ministry of St. John’s has been Bread of Life, a non-profit organization founded by the couple in 1992. Its mission: to serve hot, nutritious meals to homeless individuals in downtown Houston.
Since its inception, Bread of Life has grown at the speed of faith to not only focus on homeless ministry, but also improve health outcomes, relieve hunger for the homeless and housed and operate a radio station, KMAZ The Amazing 102.5 FM that positively engages the mind, body, and soul of listeners through music, community events and programming.
Bread of Life was busy in 2022, donating $3.5 million to Houston families in need; providing 44,376 individuals with food and supply boxes; acquiring $30.1 million worth of donated products and supplies to give to Houston communities; engaging nearly 2,000 people via community health workers; distributing $66,000 worth of fresh food to in-bound seniors; and graduating 47 students from the Bread of Life Academy.
And if the Rasmus’s past is prologue to their future, there’s more incredible ministry to come.