Hello, my name is Daryl Hartter, and I do administrative data entry at the Topeka Rescue Mission. I count all the bed sheets and ensure the guest registrations are in the system correctly. It’s enjoyable serving Jesus here, and we know that 1st Corinthians 10:31 tells us “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I grew up in the little town of Sabetha, Kansas, in Nemaha county. I was not a great student but realized at some point that it was important for me to do my best academically. My high school achievement earned me membership in the National Honor Society and was an officer my senior year. In 1970, I moved to Lawrence to attend KU. It was a real culture shock to transition from a town of 2,500 people to a university of 16,000. I took a lot of hard knocks the first semester, but started to get it by the second semester. After that, I frequently made the Dean’s Honor Roll and graduated with a degree in education and a minor in French. Overall, I most enjoyed taking classes in science and doing research.
My love of science and research grew while I earned a Master’s degree in Biology from Iowa State and a Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Illinois. The coursework and other requirements were grueling. It was a difficult, challenging time but I was grateful to have an academic advisor who encouraged me to pursue a career in scientific research. A year of post-doctoral work in Marseille, France landed me at the French Institute of Cellular Biology. I lived on the beautiful Mediterranean coast and immersed myself in learning the French language. I successfully presented my dissertation research, speaking only French and earned a coveted invitation to stay at the Institute for a second year.
After returning to the United States, I was eventually able to get work published in a top-notch bio-chemistry journal. I was published in eight journals in just a year and a half. Even with that early success, I was still questioning whether this was all life had to offer. Long hours at the lab and longer hours at work began to take a toll on me emotionally.
After five years of relatively low-paying, post-doctoral work I was ready to do anything different. Then, ABBOTT Labs, the top-ranked pharmaceutical company in medical diagnostics called me. They wanted to start a new group in neuroscience and I was the youngest one they had called and the first one hired at a senior research scientist level.
I thought that this was exactly what I needed. It was still a lot of hard work and very different than being a tenure track professor. I felt like I was on my own and I was in a superb group of scientists and technical staff. After three years, my group was restructured and the next several years were not as rewarding. I transitioned to a smaller company, again seeking a change of pace, but it didn’t resolve the growing depression clouding my life.
I was at the beginning of a steep, downward spiral. At the time I didn’t realize it, but Jesus was working on my heart. I became reclusive and my assets were dwindling. I lost my house after an eviction and within a few of days of moving out, I had a massive stroke. When I woke up in the hospital, I learned I had been very close to death. God used the responding paramedics to help save my life.
Recovering physically from my stroke was difficult. I worked through the temporary, but complete, paralysis of my left side. I spent weeks in physical, occupational and speech therapy. My depression – and my anger at being saved – did not allow me to be a model patient. I understand now that Satan had a stronghold on my emotions and my heart.
Upon being released from the hospital, my brother and sister-in-law brought me back to Kansas. I was able to live with them for about a month but it was tenuous. Clearly, with my mindset and unwillingness to actually work and do anything, they thought that I had become an inconvenience.
In May 2012, I registered at the Rescue Mission. For the first couple of months I was still in a suicidal frame of mind and was looking for ways that I could end my life. After what I had gone through and the academic success, what I thought was important, to end up in a homeless shelter was my worst – I had hit the bottom. Now, I know that in God’s master plan He knew exactly what I needed. When I came to the Rescue Mission and for my first two months, I didn’t do anything. I want to thank Bill Ritchey, my caseworker at the time. He was a very compassionate advocate and could have sent me away with a one-way bus ticket to anywhere but here. After two months, I had purposed to attend chapel every night and hadn’t taken a work pass so I would be able to go to the Rescue Mission chapel. I started to feel a little more peace and tranquility – something that I hadn’t really felt in a long time. With every passing day I thought, I don’t think suicide is the answer here. It certainly wasn’t.
After two months, I entered the Servants in Training program here at the Mission. The program leader told me later that she wondered if she, with her high school education, could handle the attitude that a lot of PhD’s bring. Believe me in science, the PhD’s usually do have quite an egotistical and self-focused attitude. But it became clear that with God’s direction, I had become humble and was willing to learn. The Bible was an area that I had not studied for many decades. So I learned all that I could and I graduated from the Servants in Training Program in one year. After that, I began taking courses from The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI); it was a blessing they were offered right here at the Mission. By February 2018, I had completed all 16 classes offered by TUMI and I graduated.
I have since moved out of the Mission and began working part-time for TRM Ministries. It is a pleasure to serve and give back to an organization that was there for me when I desperately needed help. I am grateful to everybody that works at the Mission and all of the people that I have met.
The last six years have been a long, winding journey. I regret – after all that I’ve accomplished in this life – that it took me 60 years to become more Christ-centered than self-centered. Where I used to do things for my own glory, now I’m happy, joyful and at peace in doing God’s work. I want Him to have all the glory.