Former meth dealer looks to help Thai kids

Jerry Raetz used to be a methamphetamine dealer, but he’s on a completely different track now.

Raetz, 65, an outreach staff member at Canyon View Vineyard Church, is heading to Thailand for the next two years on a mission to help youth. Dozens of supporters filled the church hall Sunday for a Thai banquet and fundraiser for Raetz.

“I call it an adventure but I’m going with him,” Raetz said, referring to God and his Christian faith. “They’re his plans and his ideas.”

After 26 years of using drugs and spending time in jail, Raetz came across the church and began his slow release from the grips of meth, he said. He spent nights in the front seat of his truck and was taken in and fed by staff at the church. But after a few years of being a volunteer at the church, his then-wife announced to the congregation that Raetz was still using small quantities of meth. Church staff gave him an ultimatum that he either had to quit the drug or quit working for the church. It was just the push Raetz needed.

“God was really good to me,” Raetz said. “He didn’t want me to go back on drugs.”

After sobering up, Raetz became involved with the Cimarron chapter of the Youth With a Mission, or YWAM. He twice traveled to a ministry in Bangkok, Thailand, where he helped spread the Christian faith.

Raetz’ next adventure will take him back to Thailand for two years, though some parishioners chided him that he’ll never come back. He’ll be working with the YWAM program and Baan Jai Diaow, which means “House of One Heart.” The program houses college students who feel called to become Christians. After graduating from college, some students continue to spread the Christian faith through their actions.

With a warm demeanor and a quick hug even for strangers, it’s clear that Raetz has captured the hearts of his fellow churchgoers. Everyone on Sunday wanted to chat with him and wish him well. Raetz said he’ll leave in mid-July for Thailand.

“I think he doesn’t have a judgmental bone in his body,” said fellow church member Linda Jones. “That’s why kids and adults love him.”

To donate to Raetz’ mission, make checks payable to YWAM, P.O. Box 158, Cimarron 81220.


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