A Letter from Maui

Chuck Fidroeff’s ministry in Hawaii thrives after departing Jackson

Pastor Chuck Fidroeff, former executive director of the Good Samaritan Mission in Jackson, has launched a growing online ministry from his new home on Maui. (Courtesy photo from Pastor Chuck Fidroeff)

By Alec Klein

Special to the Wyoming Truth

There is life after Jackson Hole, after all.

After over a dozen years, Pastor Chuck Fidroeff in late October stepped down as the executive director of the Good Samaritan Mission, a homeless shelter nestled in the tony downtown of Jackson.

Fidroeff, 72, planned the move, and the mission’s board made the decision to bring in new leadership, after he was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. Doctors had told Fidroeff that he had about two years to live. That was about two years ago.

Fidroeff isn’t idling. From his new home office on a hill on the Hawaiian island of Maui, he watches the ocean waves crash and the occasional cruise ship churn pass. But even more, just a couple of months ago, in mid-October, he launched a new ministry from Maui that’s already gaining traction online.

Pastor Chuck—as he is wont to be known—appears live on Facebook, in the morning and the afternoon, Monday through Friday, for his Christian-based ministry, Worship and the Word. He also appears live on Facebook once on Saturday mornings. Already, his new ministry has drawn over 5,000 friends from all over the world, including not just from the United States but also from parts of Africa, such as Nigeria, as well as India and Pakistan, among other places.

“God has just blessed me so, so much,” Fidroeff said in an interview yesterday. “I don’t know how it happened. It was a God thing… It’s all over. It’s incredible.”

Pastor Chuck Fidroeff and his new wife Mary Keizer. The couple met via a Christian dating app in July and married in August. (Courtesy photo from Pastor Chuck Fidroeff) 

The day before, Pastor Chuck preached from Hebrews in the New Testament:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

On Sunday mornings, Fidroeff also conducts a live church service on Facebook, called “The Church that Meets on Maui,” a service filled with songs and music.

“It’s still growing,” he said.

‘Like a miracle’

Fidroeff’s blossoming ministry is just the latest in the remarkable developments in his life lately. He had prayed for many months to find love again after his wife of decades died in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. His prayers were evidently answered. On July 28, Fidroeff met a lady from Alaska in the most modern of ways—via a Christian dating app. And five days later, they tied the knot on Aug. 2.

The newlyweds have since moved to Maui, where the bride, Mary Keizer, has a home. Fidroeff said there are many needs on Maui, including people struggling with drug addiction, mental illnesses and homelessness. What’s more, Maui is still rebuilding in the wake of wildfires that recently ravaged the western part of the island. The fire destroyed over 2,000 buildings — most of them homes — and nearly 100 people perished.

Fidroeff left an indelible mark in Jackson. Leading the Good Samaritan Mission, he was a strong community leader and outspoken on various social issues, including the need for an inpatient rehabilitation center in Jackson Hole. There is no such facility here despite a community grappling with a higher percentage of excessive adult drinking than state and national levels, according to studies. Over 20% of residents — about one in five people in Teton County, home to the city of Jackson — reported excessive drinking. Eighteen percent of motor vehicle crash deaths in Teton County involved alcohol.

The Christ-based Good Samaritan Mission runs a shelter for the homeless, providing food, clothing, Bible study and more. Fidroeff sought to start a thrift shop that would allow the mission to raise more funds and offer more services to those in need. He also wanted to open a shelter for women and children; the mission is designed for single men or women, and it disheartened him that he had to turn away about a dozen people last summer.

Fidroeff was replaced by Wayne G. Richardson, 63, the chief executive officer of Retrieving Freedom Inc., a nonprofit organization with campuses in Iowa and Missouri dedicated to training service dogs to help people. The focus is to train dogs to serve the needs of veterans and children with autism. Richardson, an ordained minister, is a turnaround specialist with expertise in fundraising.

Richardson said one of the main aims is to create more affordable housing in Jackson Hole. He said he hopes to work with other area nonprofits to make this happen.

As for Fidroeff? He and his new bride are remodeling their home on Maui. “She keeps me busy watering the lawn,” he quipped, adding that his whirlwind romance has been a blessing that makes his “heart swell.”

“We’re having a good time together,” he said. “God did that. It’s like a miracle that we found each other.”

Lately, Fidroeff feels healthier, notwithstanding his terminal cancer diagnosis. He said his doctors told him his kidneys have improved. And he can walk more now. Before, he said, he had to lift his leg just to get himself into a car. Now he just climbs into the car, no problem.

“I have more and more energy every day,” he said, calling it the “healing mode.” Fidroeff added, “That’s how [God] does it. I’m believing it. Every day is a little bit better.”

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