May 24, 2023 at 6:45 a.m.
When John Marquis was 25 years old, he made a decision that would change the trajectory of his life forever.
His father was a pastor and Marquis spent much of his early days running from the church.
“I knew what God’s voice sounded like,” Marquis recalls. “I always did, but I always ran from it.”
Then, he ended up behind bars.
However, that night in jail Marquis felt a stirring in his heart and spirit. The feeling that this was his last chance to make the choice to take a more positive and sustainable path was almost palpable, he says. If he didn’t take the chance, he was scared it wouldn’t happen again.
When he got out of jail, he dedicated his life to living for Christ.
“That’s not to say I didn’t make mistakes then or that I don’t now, because I do,” Marquis says. “But it is a growing relationship.”
Marquis gave his life to Christ in 2005 and made the decision to enter the ministry.
“I felt the call that I needed to do something in the ministry but I wasn’t sure what it was,” he says.
Marquis moved with his wife, Anneliese, to Marion, Indiana, where he enrolled in Indiana Wesleyan University. The couple worked in youth ministry for a period of time, but their hearts were in street ministry, Marquis says. For four years the pair pursued street ministry in Terre Haute and have continued to do such outreach every place they’ve lived since.
The pursuit felt natural. All of it felt natural, Marquis says, like the couple was doing what they were meant to do.
Anneliese’s heart was always in the ministry, and she had always said she was going to marry a pastor, Marquis says.
“She loves to help others and give them resources so they can help themselves,” Marquis says. “We were able to come together, and it was just natural. I don’t think we ever talked about it, we just did it.”
In 2017, the couple moved to Hope.
They’d been looking for a church and it was happenstance that a good friend of Marquis’, Barry Goodman, had plans to go to Florida, which allowed Marquis the opportunity to become a candidate for Hope First Wesleyan.
Having worshiped at the church previously the Marquis family were already familiar with the congregation so, again, it was a natural transition.
“God just moves and when you are just a vessel, you just go,” Marquis says. “And when you are fluid enough to do that, you end up exactly where you are supposed to be.”
The feeling of space and ease Marquis felt with the move was a far cry from the unpleasantness he’d unfortunately experienced at the previous church he’d been involved with, he says.
“A mentor of mine approached me and wanted me to pray about it,” Marquis says. “And then everything opened for us to come here.”
The first year at Hope First Wesleyan was a healing experience not only for the Marquis family, but for the congregation as well. The love of the church and its members is what carried the family through, he adds.
“I know this is where God wants us to be,” Marquis says.
Now, a full-time pastor, Marquis uses his previous experience as a social worker to further his passion for helping others.
“The reason I got into the ministry is because I wanted to give somebody something in their life that I didn’t listen to in mine,” the 43-year-old former Marine says. “I just want people to fall in love with Jesus and have a relationship, not a religion.”
However, Marquis is very cognizant of what that means in today’s society.
Admittedly, being a Christian in isn’t the easiest path to tread.
“Truth is not something people want to hear,” Marquis says. “I’m not saying, ‘Let’s go out there with a martyr attitude,’ but I am saying that when you follow Christ you know that these things are going to happen. The world has just become more fallen and the further it falls the harder it is going to be Christian.”
The path itself isn’t inherently difficult, however, attempting to make sense of and quell all the noise that surrounds can be challenging, Marquis says.
"For me, it's been learning to get myself out of the way.," Marquis says. "I have to slow down a lot and say, 'God I want this to be yours and not mine.'"
Finding moments of clarity and calm are all the more reason to keep things simple.
Marquis’ curriculum is just that, simple. It’s the Bible, he says.
“I don’t sway from it and I preach exactly what it says,” Marquis says. “I make it applicable to people I’m ministering to by speaking at their intersection of their life. I never judge anyone for their intersection, I always want to be at their intersection, I want to love on them and bring them to the Cross.”
The father of three adds that having faith and following the teachings of Christ doesn’t translate to immunity from the problems associated with being human. But it does make the experience a bit easier knowing one doesn’t walk the path alone.
“With Christ you at least have the problems with peace and understanding that God is working through it to bring good for the Kingdom,” Marquis says. “I tell people to have trust and faith and work through the trials with the One who calms the seas.”
Admittedly, Marquis was a completely different person prior to coming to Christ, he says. Addiction is an ugly place and Marquis was very familiar with the perils and chaos that surround that type of lifestyle.
“I was a pretty ugly dude before I got saved,” he says. “The transformation in my heart and mind, I am a totally different person.”
In addition to serving as pastor at Hope First Wesleyan, Marquis is also on the district board and recently began coaching other pastors in churches helping them to revitalize so they are more effective in their communities, he says.
“I am doing that work with Dirt Roads Network based out of Kansas,” he says. “They incorporate pastors all across the United States and help churches to recover. Since COVID, many rural churches have had a difficult time getting motivated and focused.”
Many things begin at home. Faith is no different.
Marquis readily admits his first ministry is his family. Then extends outside the walls of his home, he says.
Self-care and nurturing one’s own soul and family is foremost. After all, one cannot serve from an empty cup.
“I’ve found the only thing I can take with me to heaven is my family,” Marquis says. “My being in the ministry and ability to teach, walk with them, love on them and teach them to love on other people – my family is my biggest blessing and number one ministry.”
When he isn’t ministering and helping others on their path, Marquis is spending quality time with his family watching movies, going for walks and playing sports of all kinds, including basketball and softball.
“I don’t have much free time because the girls are involved in things that keep us hopping,” Marquis says. “I try to spend as much time with my wife as I can and that is a balance, too. She is my rock and partner, for sure.”
Looking ahead to the future of his ministry at Hope First Wesleyan, Marquis is excited for what the future holds.
“I just want people to know that we are a people just like them,” he says. “We have the same struggles and challenges and I just want people to know they are welcome, and they don’t have to go through life by themselves.”
** For more information about Hope First Wesleyan Church please visit them online HERE or visit on Facebook HERE **