SPENCERVILLE — Brian Schwartz’s dream growing up was to have his own hog farm. After graduating from Spencerville High School, he attended the College of Wooster where he majored in swine productivity and management.
He started out as a farrowing manager at a 350 sow farrow-to-finish farm, or, in other words, a farm where the pigs are bred and grown to their slaughter weights. He was promoted to production manager in 1997.
While his professional life was going well, Schwartz’s home life was falling apart, and he went through a painful divorce which left him a single parent with a young son.
“I went through a very turbulent time,” said Schwartz, “but during that time, God brought me back to him.”
The church he was attending, First Baptist Church of Antwerp, was in need of a youth pastor. After working in vacation Bible school and going on a youth event, Schwartz had been feeling the tug to work with youth, so when the pastor asked him to fill in when the church’s youth pastor suddenly resigned, Schwartz began to pray about it.
Over the next year, Schwartz first became the youth director and then later, with God’s leading and a lot more prayer, he became the youth pastor which required him to be ordained.
It was during this time that he met his current wife, Beth, through an online Christian chat room. She had a village and youth ministry in the Philippines, and the two became prayer partners for the next five years before things began to change.
“I felt like maybe God was bringing us together as a couple, but we weren’t sure, so we agreed that God would come before the relationship,” said Brian Schwartz. “It was through Beth that I did a 10-day mission trip to the Philippines. That’s where God really got a hold of my heart. On the second night I was there, God woke me up in the middle of the night. He led me to the verse in Luke 4:16 -21 where it says that Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on how to take the Gospel to the poor, blind, and oppressed. He then led me to the Mercy Me song, ‘Here I am.’”
Brian Schwartz still wondered how God could lead a hog farmer into missions. While he was there, Beth Schwartz had set up a time for him to go to the Nasuli Bible Translation Center, the first translation center in the Philippines, built in 1953.
“The center administrator said to me, ‘Brian, I need to talk to you because God led me to you,’” he explained. “I met with him the next day, and he asked me if I would consider coming as the center’s superintendent.”
The superintendent’s job included maintenance and oversight of the center’s buildings. Brian Schwartz was uniquely qualified for this job. “As a farmer,” he said, “you have to be a jack of all trades.”
After praying about it, Brian Schwartz felt that was where God was leading him, and he arrived there on Feb. 11, 2009. Ironically, his first assignment was to close the Nasuli Bible Translation Center due to the economic downturn. Only six weeks before he helped to close the center, Brian Schwartz married Beth.
After the Nasuli Translation Center was closed in May 2010, Brian Schwartz then accepted a job as the facilities manager at Faith Academy Mindanao which is located on a southern island of the Philippines.
“Primarily the place is for educating missionaries’ children,” said Brian Schwartz. “One of the main reasons missionaries leave the field is lack of a good education for their children.”
The school has about 150 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Brian Schwartz’s job is to make sure the facilities are conducive for learning. This includes making sure the electricity is working, overseeing construction projects and doing campus maintenance. He also oversees a team of eight employees that he described as his hands and feet in getting the many jobs that are needed done.
The couple returned to the United States in December 2012 for a home assignment of rest and retooling. “Retooling is taking classes that can keep me up to date,” Brian Schwartz explained, “as well as raising support.”
Brian Schwartz needs to raise support by Dec. 2 for his family of four — which includes his son Jacob from his first marriage and the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Rebecca. They plan to return to the Philippines so he can resume his role as facilities manager in January 2014.
While Brian Schwartz is happy with his current assignment in the Philippines, he said he is always open for wherever God wants him. “I follow God wherever He wants me to go,” he said. “I have prayed that he will open the doors he wants me to go through and close the ones he doesn’t want me to go through. That’s been a pretty successful prayer.”
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