As an associate pastor at Faith Bible Church, John Malito has stood countless times before the congregation to deliver announcements, describe ministry opportunities and pray for God’s leading for the church, nestled in the foothills northwest of Denver.
So last August, when senior pastor George Morrison asked him to share about Franklin Graham’s upcoming Rock the Range Festival during a Wednesday night service, John felt completely at ease.
What John didn’t expect was the powerful stirring in his own heart while he waited to speak. As he joined in the singing and worship leading up to his comments, memories of the 1987 Billy Graham Crusade in Denver’s Mile High Stadium flooded his heart. That was a momentous life-changer, where John rededicated his life to Christ, and his wife, Cindee, prayed to receive Christ into her heart.
As he prepared to convey his joy that similar decisions would be made a few days later, this time at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park during a Franklin Graham outreach, John was overcome with emotion. Tears trickled down his cheeks.
“God reminded me that 24 years earlier, I was at Mile High coming forward, starting again a new life in Christ, and Cindee was giving her heart to Him,” John explains now. “I was overwhelmed with gratitude and wept with praise for all that Christ has done in our lives.”
John composed himself and then prayed for the 70 some church members and staff who would be participating as counselors during the two-day evangelistic event—himself included.
Before attending the 1987 Crusade, John and Cindee were searching for ways to rear their 1-year-old son, Zach, in a positive spiritual environment. They thought going to the Billy Graham meetings would help them become a better mom and dad.
Both had grown up in Northwest Denver. John and his older brother, Ray, attended the Catholic church across the street from their house, and they were educated in Catholic schools. John served as an altar boy and at one point considered pursuing the priesthood. “I pretty much went to church every week and considered myself religious,” John says. “But I never read the Bible, and I had no personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
That changed in April 1976. John, who was then a college student, was invited by several of his cousins to attend their church. During the service, John heard that Jesus came to die on the cross for his sins. “I understood for the first time that I was lost and needed a Savior,” he explains. That evening John accepted Christ.
Along with her two younger brothers, Cindee grew up in a home that was moral but far from churched. Her mother is of Jewish descent. “We believed there was a God, and we lived a very moral life,” she says. “But we did not know the Lord personally.”
John and Cindee met in 1984, working in the same department at Mountain Bell telephone company in downtown Denver. John was the only man on a nine-person team. “There were quite a few motherly type ladies among our group, and one in particular felt it was her goal to get us together,” Cindee recalls, laughing.
They did get together—first for a movie, Yentl. “After that movie, I told my brother, ‘She’s the one!'” John recollects.
Then John asked Cindee to go to church with him. “I knew John was religious and went to church, and I had a curiosity about that,” Cindee says. “I remember telling him, ‘If you ever want someone to go to church with, I’ll go.'”
Within the year, the two exchanged wedding vows. In 1986, Zach was born, leading them one year later to the Billy Graham Crusade that made such a difference in their lives.
Following the Crusade, John and Cindee recognized their need to grow in their faith. “We knew that we needed to learn how to trust and serve the Lord,” John says. “And we wanted to develop consistent habits of Bible reading and prayer.”
The couple phoned a local Christian radio station asking for suggestions regarding a church that could help them cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus. The station recommended three, and John and Cindee settled on Community Baptist Church, where they were active for 10 years.
When Zach reached the seventh grade and his sister, Sarah, entered the fourth grade, the Malitos searched for a Christian school for their children to attend. They heard about Faith Christian Academy in nearby Arvada, but the waiting list was as long as Denver is high. John and Cindee prayed hard. God answered, and the door opened.
Soon after, God led Cindee to join the staff at the same school, first in a clerical position and eventually in human resources. Today she coordinates that department.
To augment the quality academic training their children were receiving at Faith Christian Academy, John and Cindee yearned to provide a valuable youth group experience for Zach and Sarah. That’s when they sensed the Lord’s leading to become involved at Faith Bible Church.
In early 2003, a friend approached John and told him that he thought John should consider full-time ministry. “I replied that I would love to do that some day, if God guided me in that direction,” John says.
It wasn’t long before Mountain Bell downsized John’s department, and he was forced to retire. When a position surfaced at Faith Bible Church to direct its ministry to seniors, John expressed interest and was selected. In 2008, he was ordained into pastoral ministry.
One of John’s favorite verses is Psalm 139:16: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (NIV).
“To know that the Lord is in control of every detail of our lives is so encouraging and comforting,” John says.
One area with which John and Cindee are trusting God pertains to personal witness. As new believers, they reached out to each of their families with the Gospel, and since then, Cindee’s mother has received Christ, as has one of her brothers and his wife.
Upon hearing Pastor Morrison’s announcement to the staff that Franklin Graham would be holding a Festival in Denver, John jumped at the chance to take part. During the outreach held Aug. 27-28, he served as a pairing supervisor, connecting counselors with people who came forward to make decisions for Christ—just as he and Cindee did in 1987.
“Jesus is the Lamb of God who sacrificed His life on our behalf,” John says. “He’s taken away our sins and given us new life. We can trust Him for everything, and we are going to praise Him and serve Him as long as He gives us breath.” ©2012 BGEA