In 1984, Rodney Pitzer at the age of 16 was in a motor vehicle accident that left him paralyzed from the belly button down. Through God’s Divine intervention, that “accident” of fate, redefined his life as he trusted Jesus Christ for eternal salvation. After trusting Jesus as his Savior and Lord, Rodney had the passion for compassion ministry and desired to get started before he was fully out of his back brace. He was soon enrolled in Stephen Ministries training through his church, learning one-to-one Christian care to individuals experiencing a life crisis. He then proceeded through various other church based training opportunities and also through community opportunities such as Hospice training. He then jumped into various ministry opportunities, but at the very beginning started out with regular hospital visitation, one-on-one ministry to those that were disabled, and minors that were incarcerated and in trouble with the law. Since then, the opportunities for both training and hands on ministry only increased.
Rodney married his long-time childhood sweetheart (Tamie) that had stuck with him through his time of need. Despite being told by doctors that he would never have children, God blessed them with seven. They homeschooled their children, while three of their adult children now serve in the United States Army and their oldest daughter attends Pensacola Christian College.
In 2008, Rodney and Tamie met Doug and Sharon Gilbert. Doug and Sharon where trying to get a church-based, worship and care center visitation ministry started. Rodney and Tamie volunteered and began a new level of commitment that extended to at least one formal worship program each week. It then began to increasingly expand as new requests spiraled out of that volunteer ministry. Doug and Sharon were and are key mentors to Rodney and Tamie. Doug and Sharon have been trusted confidential counselors, guides, coaches and friends. They have passed on experiences, provided loving feedback, and have been encouragers for the entire Pitzer family.
The Pitzer's vision is to see this type of family ministry expand exponentially. The benefits are not just a one-way street. While the elderly very much appreciate the presence of children, much like grandchildren for a family gathering, the seniors provide blessings for the children as well. The Pitzers have witnessed seniors keeping family members in prayer and asking for updates. Children become ministry-minded, and learn to respect and value all people as they engage in selfless acts of service. This ministry brings with it constant teachable moments for children, and provides families with life-long memories.
Ministry activities the Pitzers have engaged in include:
- providing a scheduled worship service for multiple locations
- creating many different types of large print hymn books
- fellowshipping in the form of one-to-one visitation
- providing Communion
- reading Bible Scriptures
- preaching and teaching
- praying with and for those they serve
- providing various Chaplain-type services, such as care in crisis and being a loving presence for those near death
The Pitzers family ministry has served primarily in Hernando County, Florida. They have seen the ministry expand to other locations, and it is their passion to see it spread across the United States. They have a vision to motivate, train and facilitate others to actively visit the lonely and forgotten, by ministering to their emotional and spiritual needs.
The desire is to see a grassroots, community approach that crosses denominational lines and unites and unifies various groups for this kind of compassion ministry. The ministry does not require anyone to join an organization or to leave any church group in favor of this one. AVOWED will help equip churches that have a heart for ministry, using a train-the-trainer approach. No one will have to "reinvent the wheel." A church might want AVOWED to help facilitate and guide their youth group to become more ministry-minded, or might prefer a holistic family approach. AVOWED can also help by contacting nearby facilities to aid in "getting the ball rolling."