Stepping Into Serving: Bradtmueller Helps People in Need with a Degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice
“My role here on earth is to know Christ and to make Christ known, trusting the Lord has a plan and a purpose for my life. If I’m diligent in doing this, I will be placed into environments where He will use me the most.”
“God has a purpose for your life.”
You’ve probably heard this many times — whether it was said to you by a pastor, a youth leader, or a parent. Perhaps you’re unsure of what that really means or what “purpose” looks like in your life. Austin Bradtmueller felt the same way when he entered college.
Originally from Fort Wayne, Ind., Bradtmueller wanted to attend a Christian college far enough away from home to be independent but close enough to have the ability to go home. He applied to Grace College and upon touring, he fell in love with the community and the campus.
During his first year at Grace, the campus theme was “Saturate.” It was the idea of being so filled with the love of Jesus that you can’t help but pour it out to others.
“The theme was impactful for me coming to Grace — I was at a point in my faith where I really had not totally bought in,” said Bradtmueller. “Throughout my first year, with the guidance of my RA, I committed to loving Christ with all my heart.”
Bradtmueller chose a degree in psychology and criminal justice because he wanted to help children and teens who feel isolated in the world. He was most influenced by Dr. Joe Graham and Dr. Thomas Edgington, who expressed God’s love in classes and taught him how to work within the worldly system to advance the cause of Christ. His degree in psychology shaped his perspective on who God was calling him to be and challenged him to think practically about meeting people’s needs where they are.
With a heart to be more involved with God’s work, Bradtmueller added a minor in youth ministry his junior year. As part of the minor, he took a class on urban ministry which allowed him to travel to churches both locally and in inner-city Philadelphia to witness how ministry is done in different settings. In Philadelphia, Bradtmueller worked with Urban Hope ministries to serve people with addictions.
“The overall purpose was for us to step into the trenches of urban ministry and learn that only God knows what people need. The college kid from Winona Lake only knows what he thinks they need,” said Bradtmueller. “The trip humbled me to realize that all I have to offer people is the hope, joy, compassion, and love of Jesus Christ, which is always sufficient. Then, and only then, can I meet people’s specific needs.”
Through these training experiences, Bradtmueller understood God was calling him to serve those most misunderstood in communities.
After graduating with his degree in psychology and criminal justice in December of 2019, Bradtmueller did a year-long internship with a Christian camp called Lake Ann Camp in Traverse City, Michigan. He learned how to facilitate ministries and traveled to 32 states and four countries as an ambassador for the camp.
After that year, he returned to Fort Wayne and began his career working for the Department of Childhood Services, helping families reunite and find housing and jobs. Bradtmueller then worked as a registered behavioral technician for Maple Seed Farms, an organization aiding individuals with special needs. The Lord taught him a lot about humility, love, and patience through serving people with autism spectrum disorder and their families.
After three years as a behavioral technician, Bradtmueller felt there was something more for him. He told God, “If it is time for me to move on, open a door.”
The next day, Bradtmueller received a message on Indeed asking him to apply for the executive director position at Christian Community Health Care (CCHC), a full-service medical clinic that provides free quality healthcare services to the Fort Wayne area community. But Bradtmueller didn’t recognize at first that this was the open door he had prayed for. He typed up his response, “I am not interested, but I hope you find who you’re looking for.”
After declining another message to apply, God swung the door wide open for him. The interim director called him, urging him to apply because he believed Bradtmueller was the person he had prayed for. After several interviews, Bradtmueller got the job.
Now executive director of CCHC, Bradtmueller sees how his degree in psychology and his many diverse experiences have culminated in a position aligned with his purpose.
“Through my work, I get to walk with families that are in great need. These families are without options in terms of healthcare, and many of them don’t have food to put on their table,” said Bradtmueller. “I get the opportunity to show them the love of Christ and show them a God that sees them, knows them, and helps them fill their needs —utilizing His people and His church to do that.”
The CCHC currently operates one primary and urgent care clinic in Grabill, Indiana, providing medical, dental, preventative, and mental healthcare for uninsured and underinsured individuals and families. Everyone who comes to the clinic receives service as well as the love, truth, and compassion of Jesus. The clinic, which has three employees and 75 volunteer doctors, nurses, and prayer team members, serves 1200-1500 people every year.
“We are a ministry that is here to help all who need it,” said Bradtmueller.
CCHC plans to expand to a Fort Wayne location, where there is a team of Fort Wayne-based volunteers ready to serve 1000+ new patients once the new clinic opens. At this new location, CCHC will focus on teaching healthy habits and helping families break patterns of poverty.
The role he was reluctant to step into Bradtmueller now considers his greatest blessing. Through many experiences and steps of faith, Bradtmueller has seen God use him in ways he never imagined.
“If it is within the Lord’s will, it will turn into something far greater than what you can believe,” said Bradtmueller. “The best thing you can do is step forward in faith and step into serving.”