The Story of Jon Reeverts
Jon Stuart Reeverts was born to Daniel and Elizabeth Reeverts in Slayton, MN on July 7, 1959. He was the youngest of five children.
Jon spent the first seven years of his life in Leota, MN (a town the size of Vona) where his love for small town living was embedded in his heart. Jon had a pet rooster named Mr. Fluff and he taught it to ride on the handlebars of his bike.
In 1966 Jon’s dad took a job in New York City where he pastored a church for 17 years delivering messages in both German and English. Jon was very upset about this move. In his childhood-self he couldn’t understand this decision which left a huge imprint on him as a person.
While growing up in New York, (Ridgewood Queens to be exact), he refused to take on the east coast accent. In junior high he had a teacher that tried to correct his grammar –She said to him “It’s Lon-giland - Jon would correct her grammar, and say “no it is Long Island.”
His favorite tv shows while in New Yok were Green Acers, Petticoat Junction, and the Beverly Hill Billie’s and he couldn’t wait to visit his cousins back on the farm in Illinois. The only thing he liked about New York were the Mets. At the age of 11 he went to a Billy Graham Crusade with his parents at Shae stadium where he received Christ as his Lord and Savior. That event was essential for the rest of Jon’s journey. Jeramiah 29:11 says that God know the plans He has for us.
Jon attended Brooklyn Tech High School which was an 8-story city block building with barred windows, a police officer was always posted at the front doors, and his outside PE classes were on the roof with a cage over the top. In high school he worked at Radio City Music hall as a doorman. Rich men would try to purchase him for the evening to escort their daughters to parties. Jon played church league basketball in his neighborhood rather than high school basketball because he said it was a much safer option.
In 1976 - A cousin was visiting their family and was on her way back to IL, so Jon told his parents that he was getting out of New York and was going to go live with his brother in Colchester. He packed up his things and left. He always had regrets on how he handled that because he was especially close to his mom. Later, that really came back to haunt him when we let our daughter Mackenzie leave home to attend Lutheran High School in Parker Colorado her junior and senior year.
Jon attended Central College in Pella IA. He finally got to play competitive basketball as a walk-on freshman. He graduated with a BA in English in 1981. He knew he wanted to teach in a small town and coach basketball. He landed his first teaching job in Stratton, CO along with an entire staff of first year teachers. Can you imagine?
While in Stratton, I think he tried to experience the country childhood that he never got to have in New York. His first senior class, the Class of 1982 was not only his students but probably too much of his friends. I have a picture of him helping the Bractenbach’s castrate pigs. Jon had told me this story, but it was funny hearing it from Richard Ramos the other day - who was in Jon’s first senior class. Jon loved Shakespeare and was teaching it to his students. As they were reciting passages, the kids were changing the words all while spitting chew on the floor. Jon loved those guys. He loved Stratton!
I was in college when Jon came to Stratton. My sisters would tell me about their English teacher and that he was also the basketball coach. I came home after graduating from Fort Lewis with a Psychology Degree in December of 83. My plan was to attend an Advanced Training class through Grace Fellowship International located in Denver in the spring to prepare me to become a Christian counselor. In the meantime, I was going to coach the Stratton cheerleaders and do a little subbing after the Christmas break. My sisters were his students and they set us up by getting us to sponsor a dance, 10 days later he asked me to marry him, I said yes, and 6 months later we were married. I never did attend the advanced training class. God’s timing for that was to come several years later.
What was God’s purpose for Stratton in Jon’s life? To fall in love with Eastern Colorado and the people here, and to marry a farmer’s daughter. However, we left that following summer mostly because I didn’t want to live in my hometown, so we closed our eyes and put our finger on the left side of the map as far away from New York as we could, and we landed on Spokane, Washington. We had no job and no place to live. We just said, “We would figure it out when we got there.” That was a crazy two months.
At the end of the summer, we decided we better do something because Jon’s paycheck from Stratton was going to run out. So, we went to Adam State college in Alamosa where Jon got his master’s in physical education and I recieved my elementary teaching certificate.
At the end of that year Jon said “Burlington has an English and coaching opening. Let’s go there.” Back to Eastern Colorado we went.
We were in Burlington from 1986 to 1993. We were both teaching and coaching before we had kids. I remember how we would sit down for supper at nights and talk about our students. We felt like kindergarten kids and seniors were not that different. Canaan and Keala were born during that time and I wanted to be a stay-home mom. Burlington had been on a pay freeze for a few years, and we knew we couldn’t survive on one teacher’s salary.
1993 Jon took a job in Laramie, WY. We were there for 6 long windy years. However, we did get to watch Cory Wedel play football for the cowboys. It was so hard being away from family and all of our friends back home!
Mackenzie was born in 1996 and at 18 months she needed a major surgery that cost a quarter of Jon’s salary that year. In order to pay the medical bills, Jon would teach all week, go to Denver on Friday night, drive a shuttle van for airline pilots all weekend, drive home on Sunday’s and begin teaching on Monday morning. He did this for a year and a half. We were walking through brokenness which needed to happen, and our faith began to grow. We were learning to depend on God in a way that we had never done before.
So a little back story… At the age of 19 I attended a Grace Life Conference that taught me what it meant to exchange my life for the life of Christ. I was in a dark place and this message was what got me through my brokenness. When I graduated from college, I wanted to counsel kids using the exchanged life message. God said it wasn’t time yet. But I couldn’t get it out of my head after all those years. I would try to tell Jon about it, but he wouldn’t really listen. He was a Preachers Kid. He thought he already knew everything about God. Through a series of events I was reconnected to the Exchanged Life message and attended a workshop that Peter Reinertsen was doing. He offered to do a conference at our home-church in Laramie, which I was like “yes! Come!” Mostly because I wanted Jon to hear from Peter, which is what David alluded to in his introduction. God used Peter to change Jon forever! He was so alive in Christ, and he had a mission! This message of grace changed us individually, our marriage, the way we raised our kids, everything!
In 1999 God said It is time to begin your ministry
While we were in Laramie, Marilyn Sexon from Burlington High School would call Jon every year that there was an English opening and tell him he should apply. In 1999 that call came one more time. This time, God made it possible for us to come back to Burlington. Jon said “We need to bring the message of grace back to Eastern Colorado and start a nondenominational youth group.” We planned and strategized on how we were going to break down denominational walls and bring teens together. As a teacher he watched kids struggle with their identity and finding a purpose. He knew that if we could bring them together in the name of Jesus, teach them their identity in Christ Jesus, God could change the atmosphere in our schools and change the course of their lives. The Evangelical Free Church helped us get started as their youth leaders. They loved us, they encouraged us, and they supported us in reaching into the youth of the community apart from church walls. It was amazing! So, we started in our home and kids came and they invited their friends.
Jon was the visionary, always looking for ways to bring kids together. He was not a detail person, so I took take care of a lot of the logistics. I could hardly keep up with him.
Middle school and high school youth groups
Power Core/ Power Lunch
See You at the Pole
Rappin Rockin New Years Eve Party
Kick ball in the park on Tuesday nights
He created the game Plunger head
Middle School and high school movie nights
Youth Retreats to Estes Park
Camping out at Greg and Tara Penny’s or out at the lake when we had one
Pray off our Senior nights
It seemed like we had kids in our house all the time which our own kids loved!
Everything was going great until 2008 when Jon was diagnosed with thymoma. We thought that was a one-time deal. They took it out the tumor, and we thought, “All is good.” But in 2010 he was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and another thymic tumor. Jon told God, “You have my complete attention.”
Romans 12:1 says Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.
What Jon told God that day was “You have all of me for your glory!” We told our kids that we could either blame God about this diagnosis and act in a way that was independent of Him (Jesus), trying to handle it out of our own strength, or we could trust God and live out what we had been teaching the youth for 8 years.
He poured into his students at Burlington high school with everything he had, and Burlington poured their lives into us. What was God teaching us? God taught us to receive all His riches and to see life through His eyes. See the broken hearted and their pain. It opened our eyes beyond youth group, to truly see the hurt people were walking through.
But in 2017 Jon felt called to go back to teaching one more time. God spoke strongly to both of us that He needed to go to Hi-Plains Schools. It was like another mission. There were more kids to reach, more memories to make, more life to live.
What did God teach Jon through Hi-Plains? He taught him a new dance, to live with more urgency than ever before, to live freely, to embrace every moment of life, to hold nothing back.
Hi-Plains welcomed us as part of their family and they greatly impacted our lives. He told them they were taking a risk hiring him because of his cancer. They didn’t care! He learned the word oxytocin and he said that’s what he got every day from being at Hi-Plains.
We knew his battle with cancer was only becoming more difficult. He would say to me that he lived through a different lens than most people. He never knew how much time he had, and he wasn’t going to waste a minute. He was never going to stop giving his hugs, stop pouring into the lives of his family, into the lives of others. He knew he had a date that was already determined. He didn’t want to miss a moment or an opportunity.
Jon Loved the constitution of the US and the American Flag. About a month ago, he told me that he might end up in jail someday. I told him that he had done jail ministry before so…
Jon was our wealth of information:
Spelling, grammar, calculations, knowledge of history, but most of all, Scripture! His Bible is loaded with sticky notes, personal notes especially in the book of Romans!
Stories from you –
Jon literally saved some of your lives, helped change your course, give you courage to be more than you thought you could be and teach you about Jesus – A typical theme was that He always made you feel like your life mattered. That you were the most important person at that moment. That’s because it was true.
And Jon listened to your stories and he hugged, and he cried, and he prayed, and listened, and he hugged, and he cried, and he prayed. But he also rejoiced loudly in your victories!
And you know, it wasn’t because he was trying to please God or that he thought he had to earn his way to heaven. It wasn’t about his efforts or his need for attention. He knew that was all settled at the finished work of the cross. He was already fully accepted by God. Jon knew that God’s greatest purpose for His children was to allow Christ to be expressed through us. Jon just submitted, Jon presented himself as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to Him as an act of worship. God took Jon’s willingness and his unique personality of compassion, tenderness, and strength and said “Thousands of lives will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of you.”
I cannot even express how blessed I was to Be the wife of Jon S Reeverts and being the mother of his three children. I learned a long time ago that he didn’t just belong to me. We shared this beautiful life together in every way, but he also belonged to all of you. Life on this earth will never look the same without him, but Life in Christ Jesus always will. I pray that what you have learned from my husband will have a rippling effect and that we will all carry on the mission of sharing the life of Christ with everyone we know.
Jon battled cancer the past 12 years before facing complications due to COVID-19. He received his glorious invitation to meet Jesus face to face on March 12, 2021 with his family by his side.