Pastor pleads for prayer after shooting of outreach director: 'Believing in God for breakthroughs'

Hans and Zulya Schmidt
Hans and Zulya Schmidt | GoFundMe/Brad Currell on behalf of Zulya Schmidt

Pastor Gary Marsh of Victory Chapel First Phoenix is pleading for prayers across the nation for the outreach director of his church who was mysteriously shot in the head while street preaching on an Arizona street in November.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Marsh provided an update on how his church is managing in the aftermath of Hans Schmidt being shot on the corner of 51st Avenue and Peoria in Glendale before a Wednesday night service on Nov. 15.  

Schmidt, a recently married military medic and a father of two young children, is hospitalized and remains in critical condition.

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Marsh said he encourages anyone who knows about Schmidt to keep him in their prayers as he and his family navigate his recovery in the hospital. 

"Pray for financial support for the medical bills the family is facing. There's been contributions from all over the world to help him. But we're not asking for that. We want people to pray for him. What can they do? They could help in that way," Marsh told CP. 

"Primarily pray for Hans' full and complete recovery and that he can be rejoined with his wife and kids again at home. Please pray there are no long-lasting side effects from his injury," he added. 

"We are believing that God's going to raise him up, put him back up on his feet, and he can then go back to doing what he loved to do the most, which was winning souls for Jesus Christ." 

Marsh said Schmidt moved to the valley within the last year to work as his church's outreach director and has "been faithful in his desire to preach God's Word and reach lost souls for Jesus." 

"Hans is one of the finest young men I've ever had the privilege of working with. He has some military background. He's incredibly disciplined and just great, good-natured, great personality, loves God, genuinely saved. He was also raised in a home that has experienced the true salvation of Jesus Christ, being born again," Marsh said. 

"He was the one who planned and executed outreach efforts. We are a very evangelistic church. We take the Word of God literally. The Bible says, 'Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every living creature.' That's what we attempt to do to the best of our ability," Marsh said. 

"We plant churches, both within the U.S. and around the world. We support the work of God in every way we can. Our outreach director is involved in planning, organizing and carrying out outreach efforts, which are intended for the primary purpose of winning souls for Jesus Christ, and that was his responsibility as the outreach director." 

Marsh said the communities neighboring his church and people worldwide have shown Schmidt and his family support during this challenging season. 

"The outpouring of the love of people and financial resources to help the family has just been staggering. We have heard from worldwide, and people reaching out have helped and supported greatly," Marsh said.  

"We're just believing in God for breakthroughs. It's not a money issue. It's not the cost of hospitals and doctors that is our No. 1 priority. We want to see Hans back with his family and out of the hospital. That's our No. 1 goal."

Marsh, who lost his wife to cancer, noted that it's crucial during unexplained tragedies, such as the shooting of a street preacher, that Christians remain hopeful and faithful to God. 

He remains hopeful and encourages his congregation to put their faith first, even amid an unknown future. 

"How do we keep the faith? How do we remain faithful to the Lord? There's many things in life that happen that we don't understand, and we can't always put a stamp of our understanding upon things that happen," Marsh said. 

"I lost my wife to cancer. Certainly, nothing that was planned for. Certainly, nothing that we dreamed up. It just happened, as it happens to other people. There's unfortunate things that take place in life. The only way you can cope with it is to keep moving in the same direction. Don't let it deter you," he continued.  

"Don't let it overwhelm you. Obviously. There's been lots and lots of people sorrowing over Hans' situation. I, myself, it hurts me deeply to see this young man laying in a hospital bed. It's just not what we would expect, not what we prepare for. But it's the reality of life."

Marsh is trusting in the love of God despite the critical condition Schmidt is facing.  

"Life is harsh. Life can be very cruel at times. We believe in a loving God. We believe in a God who makes all things possible. We're believing for Hans's full and complete recovery," he said. 

"I'm almost positive I can say with assurance that once Hans is finally out of the hospital and back on his own two feet, functioning again, as he always has, he'll be back out on the streets proclaiming the Good news of the Gospel to win people for Jesus again."   

Last week, Schmidt's wife, Zulya, shared that her husband is "making progress" in the hospital, but there is still a "long road ahead." 

"The fact he is here is a miracle in itself. Hans is fighting and working really hard every day," Zulya Schmidt stated in a social media post.

Law enforcement is seeking the public's assistance with any information related to the shooting. 

​​Gina Winn, the public information officer for the Glendale Police Department, said during a press conference last month that the intersection where the shooting occurred in question is typically busy, and it is likely there were people in the area when the incident happened. 

The Glendale Police Department requests that anyone who knows any information regarding the incident call its non-emergency number at 623-930-3000. 

A $10,000 reward is being offered to anyone who comes forward with information surrounding the shooting of the 26-year-old church outreach director.

Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. 

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