God has worked through Daniel and his wife Angela (’95) in a special way. They have spent the last 20 years working for non-profit and ministry organizations. They both served oversees at Youth of the Mission before they came to IWU, where they met and started their journey together. “Ever since then, we’ve had a heart to serve the poor and the marginalized,” Daniel said.
Over the years, the Stoltzfus’ have served in organizations including The New York City Relief, The Bowery Mission and Arizona Youth Partnership. Daniel is now the Chief Executive Officer at Interfaith Community Services (ICS).
“Everything Angela and I have done has been motivated by Isaiah 58. It is our life passage that we try to live out as it talks about loosening the chains of injustice, setting the oppressed free, helping the poor, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked,” Daniel said.
What they love about this passage is that the Lord later goes into a series of promises: your healing will quickly appear, the glory of the Lord will go before you and His righteousness will be your real guard. “I like to tell people that is like God saying He’s got our back,” he said.
Their current mission organization, ICS, offers emergency financial assistance to those coming off the street. They also help seniors who are lonely and isolated, and provide mental health education.
Over the years, Daniel has seen a lot of heartache and suffering. He explained that there was one moment – before going to college or starting a life in missions – that directed his path.
When Daniel was working with New York City Relief, he was in the midst of a lot of crime and drug activity. He had grown up in a small town as a pastor’s kid, so working with the Relief Bus was overwhelming to him. They had turned the bus into a soup kitchen, and Daniel was serving as best he could. “I walked into the men’s restroom in the public park and there was a woman laying on the floor with a heroine needle sticking out of her arm. I don’t know what it was in that moment, but I just felt incredible compassion that I can only believe came from the Lord. It was basically a challenge to say, ‘This is what I want your life to be about – to be about serving my kids that are in this situation,’” Daniel said.
All of the work he has done since that moment has been grounded on that experience. He understands that life is not about him, it’s about God. Because of this, the Stoltzfus family has moved around a lot, following where they believe the Lord is directing them.
Rebekah Stoltzfus, Daniel and Angela’s daughter, is a freshman at IWU this year. She expressed that her parent’s mission has shaped who she is as a daughter of Christ. She’s grateful that they showed her how to follow God no matter what. “I was very uncomfortable a lot. We moved around a ton and it was hard at the time, but thinking back on it, it shaped me… God doesn’t want us to be comfortable. He wants us to be uncomfortable so that we work for His glory not for our own comfort.”
The Stoltzfus family has seen a lot of hurt, but God has rewarded them for their faithfulness. He has shown them transformation and healing. Recently, at ICS, a grandmother and her grandchildren showed up at their front door. These people had come from the street – hungry and tired. Daniel was able to get them into a family shelter and provide comfort. He saw this grandmother again just a few weeks ago.
“She was just beaming with hope and joy,” he said. “To me, that’s why we are here and why we do this work. It’s that opportunity to give joy… To help people find that kind of hope. We do it motivated out of our love for Jesus and our belief that this is a big part of the work He has called us to do. That’s what it’s all about.”
Written by Kelly Reed. Kelly is a senior Strategic Communications major with a focus in Public Relations. She is the President of IWU PRSSA and hopes to work as a communications director of a nonprofit organization after graduation. She loves to tell people’s stories through written word, artwork, speech and strategy. Visit Kelly’s personal website and blog at www.kellyreed.weebly.com.