John Mizerak grew up in upstate New York and lived an ideal childhood in small town America as a first generation son of a Czechoslovakian immigrant (Samuel) who was living the American Dream. John was a gifted artist and musician as a child, but decided early in life to ignore those gifts, thinking they weren’t of value for a man. Instead, he turned to sports. Even though small in stature, John worked his way up the depth chart on the high school football team and ended up walking on and starting at the University of Buffalo (UB) in the early 1980’s. This experience led John to live out a life with the identity of an overcomer and overachiever and it would cloud his focus for years to come.
While at UB, John met Molly, who would become his wife and the mother of his three children, Chris, Sammy & Jamie. Molly also happened to be the UB head football coaches’ daughter, which made John’s team experience even more challenging. He was learning that the more challenging, the better for him! After graduating with a B.A. in communication, John and Molly moved to Virginia and got married in July of 1984. After a few years in the corporate world, John found himself looking for a new challenge. Having a young wife, a new baby and a mortgage (he couldn’t afford) was not enough, so he begged and borrowed $25,000 and started a printing franchise in 1987. John owned and operated the printing company and over 20 years evolved the business into a marketing company by 2007.
In 2006, John had what he called his “Bruce Almighty” moment (from the 2003 movie staring Jim Carrey), when he prayed about selling his business while driving in his car and got a SIGN from God. As soon as John prayed about “selling his business,” he pulled up behind a car with a personalized license plate that said, “SELOUT!” His immediate reaction was to question the spelling…Maybe it was FRENCH for something else he thought. Deep down, John knew that God had just communicated with him. Sadly, he made a feeble attempt to sell his business and instead opted for his OWN Plan B and kept the business, while rebranding as a digital marketing company. That was a huge mistake, because from that point on, everything went wrong. John moved his company to a neighboring city and rebranded. It only took 3-years for the business to completely fail. John was devastated after 23 years in business, he lost everything; his business, a commercial building, and even his house. One would think that was the worst of it, but only one year later, John and Molly received the devastating news that Molly had a brain tumor. 3-months later, Molly passed away. In a matter of 18 months, John lost everything!
John was just shy of 50 years old, his wife of 28-years was gone, his kids were grown and mostly out of the house, his life-long business had failed and he was embarrassingly living month-to-month in a rental house he couldn’t afford. A few weeks after Molly passed away, John got a call from his insurance agent reminding him that he had $100,000 coming for Molly’s life insurance. While that money could have put a nice dent in John’s debt service, he prayed about it and felt God challenged him to consider, “What would Molly want done with that money?”
Molly was a big giver and had a special place in her heart for a ministry that cared for AIDS orphans in Zambia called Every Orphan’s Hope. Instead of using the insurance money to eliminate some debt, John called the director a few weeks after Molly’s death and offered to pay for another orphanage for the ministry in Molly’s memory. John’s children, who had been on several missions trips themselves, challenged him to consider not to simply send money, but to actually put a team together to go and build Molly’s House! John felt a bit of panic, as he had never been on a mission trip, and certainly didn’t want to start his mission journey by going to Africa. But, the wheels were set in motion and only a few weeks as a widower, John was putting a team together to build an orphanage in Africa. At the same time, the enemy was working overtime in John’s life as a month-long panic attack had attached itself and he was living in a 24/7 deep funk and contemplating suicide. It was so bad that John considered cancelling the trip to Africa the week before. Through Christian counseling and a new sense of God’s love, as a special child of the King, John was able to prevail and lead the group of 10 friends and family to Zambia to build Molly’s House. This trip opened up the door for John to come home with a new perspective and step into a ministry role at his church as a mission’s coordinator.
At the same time, John began his business consulting career helping businesses, churches and non-profit organizations focus on improving their organizational efficiencies. For the next several years, John would work as a solo practitioner until he felt called to “partner” to create a more effective tool to meet client’s needs. In 2019, John partnered with Jan Zachariasse to create “Inzet” which is a practice that does both coaching and consulting. From the experience of co-creating Inzet’s Personal Growth module, John had the inspiration to start Ignite Purpose as a Christian ministry to work with upcoming generations.
John also met his current wife, Victoria, on the night before leaving for his Zambian mission trip in 2011 at a Bible study, where Victoria gave John a check for $3000 for the mission. John kiddingly says that, “Victoria bought my attention that night!” One year to the date they met, John proposed at the chapel where the Bible study was held and they were married in October of 2012. Despite how fast this new relationship developed, Victoria has proven to be a gift from God and shares in the ministry efforts with John.