Friday, September 23, 2005

Whence Matt? - Joe H. Shultz

The first real entry in this series is a bittersweet one. One of my earliest mentors, Joe H. Shultz, died last Wednesday.

Joe was a gospel ventriloquist and illusionist who worked with young people when my Dad was a teen in Canton, Ohio. I met him when I was a teen, and he was still leading youth to Christ and discipling them--and going strong. Joe was irrepressibly funny (I learned lots of things about humor from him, including spoonerisms and other funny ways of talking), engaging to listen to, and full of Scripture. He was a definite influence on my life and ministry.

Joe took me to my first Fellowship of Christian Magicians Conference when I was only a teen. It was at FCM that I first began to feel the tug towards a proclamation ministry (initially using my juggling skills!).

Then, when I was at Moody, Joe led me through an evangelism internship in Wichita, Kansas. He lined up several opportunities for me to speak about Christ, counsel spiritual seekers, and watch him in action. It really gave me a feel for the life of an itinerant evangelist and the privileges and difficulties of gospel ministry. We also had a lot of one-on-one time during that two-week internship. Up until that time, I had not had many close mentoring relationships. Joe was a first. I still do many of the things Joe taught me and remember a lot of the wisdom that he shared with me those two weeks in Wichita.

One of my regrets in ministry has been (and now I'll have to live with it forever) is that I never had Joe out to preach in our church here in Pennsylvania. I'm sure that it would have been a rich, fun, and Christ-honoring experience.

But I'm happy for Joe that he is now in the presence of the Savior. There is no better place to be.

[This is a little of what Joe meant to me. But he meant a lot more to a lot of people. Joe H. Shultz's full obituary posted was in the
Canton Repository on Saturday.]

Part of an ongoing series about major influences on my life, thought, and ministry. "Whence" is an old English word that means, "From Where?"


I haven't seen Joe Shultz in years, but his influence is still in my life from when I was a teen. He took me to an evangelism camp where I learned to lead another person to a saving knowledge of Christ. I have, over the years, been able to use that training in a blessed way. He also gave me confidence to reach out and use my talents in ways I never would have otherwise. He will be missed, but I am happy for him to be home at last. -Sudzy

I am Joe's daughter. It is comforting to me to see how wide Dad's influence was. Thank you for making this note about him.

I am Joe's wife and I had the privilege of living with him for almost fifteen years.I thank you for your kind words.He was the kindest ,most generous man I have ever known.I remember meeting you at my first FCM meeting with Joe.Also when you came to Wichita
Joe was so proud of you.He would have loved coming to your church and seeing you in action-all grown up and with a family.
At this point I really don't know how I am going to go on without Joe so please pray for me that I will trust God with His decision.I know he did not plan to leave us this soon but he said many times that he was ready whenever God called.He had meetings scheduled and was preaching better than ever. Thanks again Matt and keep up the good work.


Thank you for your gracious comments. Joe was a great man who left a broad and deep impact for Christ. It was an honor to know him.


Matt, you may remember another man that worked with Joe in Canton. He worked with the clubs and with the LINK program that dealt with juvenile delinquents. Earl Bailey worked with Canton YFC in the early 60's and then went on to direct YFC in Indiana.
In fact, you had someone leave a post on Feb 17th 2008 about Evangelist Dr. Earl Bailey.
I am glad to report he is still preaching and also hosts a radio broadcast that is heard in every country of the world.
Joe was one of a kind. He loved Jesus, loved lost souls and loved to see them come to Christ. He led my wife to the Lord in 1965.

Dr. Earl

Dr. Earl!

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Yes, I remember you. It was under your preaching at our UM church in Shelby Ohio, that I came to understand the gospel (it was I who wrote that post on Feb 17).

Thank you for your faithfulness to Christ and His message of salvation!

I'm walking with Christan in laboring in His ministry today because of men like you and Joe.

I want to be faithful like you have.

-Matt Mitchell

It's funny how things go in one's life. I met Joe through our church many years ago (getting old and can't remember the exact years) sometime around 1972. Off and on I've thought of him and tried to locate him through the internet, but could not find much except dates and places he was going to be preaching at. There was never any place close to here, and eventually memories went more to current events I've experienced. Then today (8-24-14) he just "popped" into my mind. I did an internet search, and learned with sadness that he had passed. I remember Joe as a funny, kind, and gentle man with a strong message. He had a way of helping people to accept Christ as their Saviour without, how should I put this, being pushy. At one point he had plans to start a Youth Camp near Canton, and he invited me out there to take care of some riding horses and eventually teach youths how to ride while at the camp. I packed up my stuff, including 2 dogs and a cat and a friend gave me a ride out there. Unfortunately there were some problems with acquiring the land and the camp fell through. I had been there almost 2 months, during a very hot summer, living in an old mobile home in the middle of nowhere. I felt bad it had fallen through, but have always believed everything happens for a reason. Joe had a couple who worked with him give me a ride back to Northern New England, and that was pretty much the last I had heard about him, until I found this. I will always remember him, and I know he has had a tremendous influence on many lives. My younger brother has always said that Joe was one of the most significant influences for his interest in becoming a ventriloquist. He will be missed, but he will continue to bring laughter and good memories to all.

I was one of Joe's foster kids around that time. I still remember living under the Shultz. I can't thank them enough for helping me grow into the human being I am today. My biggest regret was that despite him being only my foster parent, I never did call him dad. It matters not how many dads have raised me over the course of my life, for Joe is equally as significant to me as the rest. My prayers go towards my first foster mother Darlene and her adopted son Timothy whom I used to play with under Darlene's care. Bless you Joe. You are in a much better place now. I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you've done for me.

Benson Xu