June 10, 1917 – March 4, 2012
John Schlosser was born in China, the son of Free Methodist missionaries George and Mary Schlosser. As a freshman at Greenville College, Greenville, Illinois, John devoted himself to activities and academic courses that would fit him for Christian service. He was willing to return to China, if God made that clear. When John applied for missionary service with Free Methodist World Missions, he wrote, “Further hesitation would seem selfish. If I go out, I go with my eyes open. I know what is ahead. I have seen it and lived with it. But I would rather live and work there (in China) with God’s approval and blessing than anywhere else in the world.”
John met Ruby Tosh at Greenville College, Ruby had already applied to the missionary board, and John and Ruby determined to serve God together. They were married July 23, 1942, and began ministry at a Free Methodist church in Maryland.
In 1947 Ruby sailed for China, along with their young daughter, Lora Jean, to join John who had gone ahead the preceding year. The following year, John, as missionary superintendent, directed the evacuation of the mission from war-threatened Honan Province to Chungking in west China. There John and Ruby began a church-planting ministry. In 1949, they, along with 10,000 other Christian missionaries, were forced to leave China.
They transferred to the Philippines where they spent 20 years pioneering churches in remote villages, as well as urban educational center on the islands of Mindanao and Leyte. In 1955, they started a frontier Bible school in the jungle town of Bunawan, which later developed into the Light and Life Bible College in Butuan City. Through the years, several hundred pastors have been trained in this school. The Schlossers worked with the literature committee preparing materials in the Visayan language. John also served as missionary superintendent. By this time, their family had grown to include three sons: Tom, John Samuel and Don.
In 1966, the Schlossers received word that their 22-year-old daughter Jean was critically injured in an auto accident. Jean had earned a degree in nursing and had applied to the missionary board. Today a church in Tacloban City, Leyte, stands as a memorial to Jean.
During the Schlossers’ years in the Philippines, 1949 to 1968, they saw the church grow from a few scattered believers in a rural area to a fully developed conference.
In 1969 the Schlossers were asked to move to Hong Kong. They ministered once again among Chinese people. First, John and Ruby had to learn Cantonese, their fourth Asian language. John worked closely with national church leaders in church planting, leadership training and evangelism. He taught in the Hong Kong Bible Seminary and served as pastor of a Chinese church, as well as chairman of the mission and Hong Kong conference.
Before returning to the Philippines in 1977 for their last term of career service, John was granted a degree in missions from Fuller Theological Seminary. Their appointment was to Surigao City on the northeastern tip of Mindanao Island. There they assisted the Filipino pastors and provided oversight to the nine churches in the district. Six of the churches could be reached by road; two required a strenuous hike into the mountains; and one involved a boat ride across Lake Mainit.
Following John and Ruby’s retirement in 1982, they had a number of opportunities to return several times to the countries where they ministered. John wrote in his book, “Angel in Muddy Trousers,”
… it pays to serve Jesus. Yes, it pays in the deep satisfaction of sharing the light of the Gospel with persons in the dark. … It pays in the wealth of friendships with persons all over the world who are my brothers and sisters in the faith. The support of their prayers was crucial to whatever degree of success was realized in my missionary service. … It pays also in the inward assurance that God, who sent His Son to be my savior, will welcome me into eternity when my days on this earth are over. That welcome will not be because of any accomplishment of mine but solely on the basis of his love for the unworthy.
John’s Colleague Writes
Current Asia Area Director David Yardy believes, “John Schlosser’s whole life was passionately devoted to reaching Asia for Christ, first in China and then launching the Free Methodist Church in the Philippines in 1949. From remote locations in the frontiers of Mindanao, Philippines, the Filipino church now has nearly 25,000 members across the islands and is sending out missionaries to Pakistan, Cambodia and Hong Kong. During our 20 years in the Philippines and then while I have served as Asia Area Director, John and Ruby have continued to be spiritual advisors and prayerful supporters. John never retired from ministry to the Philippine church. He just did it more remotely. And now, as John Schlosser is with the Lord, nothing is remote.”