Nineteen-year-old Pacific Union College student Bradon Schwarz is dropping out of school to join “limbless evangelist” Nick Vujicic in ministry around the world.
Last week the sophomore, Southern California native finished his classes and said goodbye to PUC. Only a few weeks ago Schwarz was campaigning for PUC’s student body president, but today he is preparing for something else entirely: a job as a personal caretaker for a world-famous motivational speaker.
Schwarz’s path to working with Vujicic started seven years ago at a Christian music concert in Southern California. 12-year-old Schwarz attended the concert at the request of some friends; Vujicic was at the event as a guest speaker.
“The words he spoke at the concert that day changed my life forever,” said Schwarz in a conversation with Spectrum. How could a man born with no arms and no legs be so on fire for Christ? How could he live a life of such faith, peace, and purpose?
Schwarz was inspired. He says he re-dedicated his life to Christ and made the decision to live an active life of ministry.
One avenue for ministry was volunteer work with his parents’ non-profit organization, Extreme Mobility Camps (XMO). The group offers free camps for visually impaired teens and young adults. At XMO, campers participate in activities that are usually impossible in their daily lives, such as snowboarding or cross-country skiing. The campers also receive exposure to the gospel and God’s love for them.
Although XMO is non-denominational, both of Schwarz’s parents are Seventh-day Adventists, and ten of the fourteen XMO board members also identify as Adventist. Schwarz says he loves his work at XMO, and feels it could be what God wants him to do for the rest of his life.
Bradon Schwarz, right, on an XMO outing.
At PUC, Schwarz changed his major five times before deciding on Business Administration, a degree he hoped would prove useful for future work at Extreme Mobility Camps. He looks forward to a fulfilling career serving Christ, he says, all of which was sparked by the speech Vujicic gave six years earlier.
He didn’t know it at the time, but another life-changing moment for Schwarz was right around the corner.
In 2012, Schwarz wandered into a Hollister clothing store looking for a pair of flip-flops. While browsing, he was approached by the store’s manager and offered a job starting in three days.
“It seemed so completely random at the time,” said Schwarz. “Now I know it was a divine appointment.”
During the first five minutes of Schwarz’s first shift at Hollister, who should come into the store but Nick Vujicic himself.
“I was shocked!” said Schwarz. “We had never met before, obviously, so I approached him and told him how he had changed my life. He prayed with me right there in the store.”
After the encounter, Schwarz thought he would probably never see Vujicic again, but God had other plans. A year later, Schwarz’s father Bryan spotted Vujicic at a landscaping store. He approached Vujicic and expressed his gratitude for helping alter the course of his son’s life.
The two men began talking, and Bryan mentioned his nonprofit, XMO. Vujicic expressed an interest in the organization and its mission.
Today, Vujicic serves on the Extreme Mobility Camp’s advisory board, but that is only one of his many ongoing projects. In 2005, Vujicic became the president and founder of the Life Without Limbs Organization, a nonprofit whose mission is “to cross boundaries and break down barriers, to build bridges that bring people to the love and hope found in Jesus Christ.” Vujicic uses his personal story to connect with people of all backgrounds and nationalities.
Vujicic also works as a for-profit motivational speaker, which helps fund his nonprofit projects. He has spoken in 54 countries around the world.
“My greatest joy in this life is to introduce Jesus to those I meet and tell them of His great desire to get to know them personally by allowing Him to become their Lord and Savior,” writes Vujicic on the Life Without Limbs website. “That’s what Life Without Limbs is all about.”
Normally, Vujicic has three personal caretakers that help him accomplish day-to-day tasks that are impossible without the use of limbs. A couple of weeks ago, a position opened up for a new caretaker to travel internationally with him–and Vujicic thought of Bradon Schwarz.
“When he asked me, he told me I’d have five days to make a decision and let him know,” said Schwarz.
The offer came at a unique time for Schwarz. He had learned ten days before that his campaign for PUC’s student body president had fallen short. The news discouraged Schwarz, who felt that his intentions of turning PUC into a vehicle for supporting the poverty-stricken in San Francisco was where God was leading him.
“I had all these plans to help PUC, but then I didn’t get the job,” said Schwarz. “I didn’t understand why.”
When Vujicic offered Schwarz the opportunity to participate in international ministry a week and a half later, he saw things beginning to make sense.
“It’s just been one divine appointment after another,” said Schwarz. “God is leading me somewhere; I just have to continue to trust. The journey so far has been spectacular beyond words.”
Schwarz will be splitting his time between a position as the Vice President of Business Development at Extreme Mobility Camps and working as one of Vujicic’s caretakers.
Schwarz leaves for his first trip with Vujicic in April. The trip will span twenty days, starting in South Africa and working north. Then they will travel from Eastern Europe to Western Europe.
As for school, Schwarz is unsure of his academic future until “God leads in that direction.” He is uncertain if he will ever return to finish his degree.
“I’m just going to continue to trust in God. If He leads me to finish my degree later on, then I will. As I see it, we have about 80 years on this planet to make a difference. It’s a sprint! This is not our life; our life starts after this world is done.”
Rachel Logan is a writing intern for Spectrum Magazine.