Brad cried approximately five times during our interview. I say that in a good way. A really good way. His tendency to cry might be my favorite thing about him. I grew up Mennonite. There are lots of great things to say about Mennonites, but their crying is sub par. I’m not used to men that cry. And Brad, like many of the men I work with at the Mission, allows himself to be moved by what happens around him. He has a physical response to the work he does. He is humble enough to know when he is witnessing or recounting a powerful moment. And he reacts. My favorite moment he told me about in our two hour meeting made me cry, too.
“We had a graduation after I had been here just a couple years. A graduate named Robert was sitting right next to me on stage. He looks at the audience and says: ‘Brad, my mom is here. Would you like to meet my mom?’ He had been estranged from his family. After the ceremony, this little woman comes running down the aisle and she embraces Robert. ‘I love you, I knew you were gonna be fine.’ I thought it couldn’t get any better. But it did. He turned and introduced me to her. She hugs me and she is crying all over me. She said, ‘Thank you for giving me my son back.’ And I thought: ‘I gotta keep doing this. This is the greatest thing in the world.’ That’s what we do. We restore families. We give sons back to their moms, sometimes to their wives. And we see lives changed forever.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I chose to interview Brad to kick-off the Conversations About Anything series because 1. He’s the head honcho around here and 2. I wanted to hear how he made the decision to accept his job.
So let’s start at the beginning. In 1987, I was born. That also happens to be the year that Brad Meuli accepted a job as the VP of Commercial Lending at the largest bank in Colorado. It was clearly an important time for the both of us.
Rachel Greiman: Were you happy at that job?
Brad Meuli: I thought: “Lord, this is it? I should be happier.” I remember praying: “Lord, I don’t know what you want me to do. But I’m willing to do anything. If you want me to stay in banking, I’m fine with that. But will you just answer this prayer: show me that you’re using me. I don’t want to labor in vain.”
RG: Was that prayer answered?
BM: He began to show me the next day that He was using me. The veil had come off my eyes and I began to see how I was being used in this position. I got involved with Hope Communities, run by a guy from Denver Seminary. I met Del Maxfield [then President and CEO of Denver Rescue Mission] through people in my church.
RG: Did you get involved with Denver Rescue Mission then?
BM: At the time, the Mission was looking for a family facility. We found the building that eventually became Champa House. That was my first time doing development work. I asked the Savings and Loan Association that owned it if we could have it, and they said “yes.” A bunch of people from my church and bank came over and we gutted it. A construction company came in and built it. Then we all came back and painted it.
RG: And then?
BM: In 1988, they asked me to come on the Board of Directors. I said no. Six months later, they asked again. And I said no.
BM: I just wanted to do projects. I didn’t want to sit in on a stuffy old board meeting. But finally, the third time they asked me in 1990, I thought, “This must be the Lord calling me.” So I came on board.
RG: And the rest is history?
BM: Well, pretty quickly, I became Chairman. I had some wonderful opportunities, not the least of which is this building [current Administrative Office Building]. I found out that a printing company wanted to give a building away, so we applied and we got it.
RG: So you got two buildings for the Mission, for free, before you were on staff. Did you think you were going to become CEO at that point?
BM: I would meet periodically with Del. I loved what the Mission did and he was a good friend. He was getting ready to retire and wanted to put together a succession plan. I don’t know why I said this to him but I asked, “Would the board ever consider me for the job?”
RG: And they did!
BM: They put together a succession plan and looked at other candidates for two years and I put it in God’s hands. I didn’t know if I particularly wanted to run a Rescue Mission. But yes, they did. They hired me on April Fool’s Day in 1999. I was mentored by Del for almost two years and became President and CEO in January 2001.
RG: Were you scared?
BM: The lesson I learned took 12 years, from 1987 until 1999. I had prayed this prayer and felt the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart. The first thing was being willing to do ANYTHING and secondly, was just being faithful and working hard in whatever I was doing. I can see now that my heart had to be changed.
RG: What has this job taught you?
BM: Here, we get to impact people for eternity. Even if they don’t graduate from a program, they hear the word of the Lord and have an opportunity to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and be changed for eternity.
RG: Do you ever struggle with the question “Am I doing enough?”
BM: For 12 years, I didn’t know where I should go. For two years, I was praying…is this it or not? A small voice in my heart said, “Yes, this is what you should do.” I still hear that small voice now. But it’s not so small anymore. It’s like a big loud speaker. It’s like 70,000 people in a stadium saying that God’s in control, saying that I need to reach homeless people for eternity. God could call me to do something else but I just want to be willing to do ANYTHING that he has asked me to do.
RG: So for me, a 20-something seeking direction, what is your advice?
BM: The Lord is in control and can use you wherever you are. You don’t have to be the President/CEO of Denver Rescue Mission for the Lord to use you.
A couple weeks after the interview, Brad was still mulling over some thoughts and I received an e-mail from him, encouraging me to “be open to how God would lead you today, be sensitive to what He is putting on your heart today…and tomorrow and the next day will take care of itself.” At the end of the e-mail, he told me it was just his two cents. But to me, it’s worth a whole lot more than that.