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Rister is Working Together Coalition's 'Be Inspiring' recipient

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Pastor John Rister of the Church of the Nazarene in Backus is the January “Be Inspiring” recipient.

The Working Together Coalition recognizes an inspiring, positive, adult role model for youth each month with the “Be Inspiring” award. Rister has been a member of the community for the past three and a half years, coming here from Monroe, Mich., where he grew up. Rister is also a youth pastor, a zone leader and a bus driver for Pine River-Backus Schools.

Rister was selected because of his passion for working with youth in the community. In his youth, he became involved in drugs and alcohol, and in his recovery he worked with teens. This inspired him to become a minister.

As a husband, father, community and church leader he tries to instill in youth the values of leadership, being a role model to other youth, working hard and being a responsible person in society. He does this during all aspects of his life as a minister, including being involved in the Working Together Coalition, Community Connection, Teens Leading the Way and as a bus driver.

In his capacity as a bus driver he selects a “Student of the Week” who is treated to a Dairy Queen gift card. In his involvement with youth, one might say Rister practices what he preaches (pun intended).

During his youth his cross country coach, Everett Miller, was the person who inspired him the most by instilling in him that he could accomplish anything by working hard for it and believing in himself. As a young man, Rister’s father wasn’t much of a role model, but over the years he has become very close to his father.

Rister said the community needs to have more parental and extended family involvement. He would like to see the business community provide work mentorship to give youth a direction for their futures, and service organizations get youth involved in service projects.

Rister said the reason for his involvement with youth is because he wants “to see teens succeed in the quality of life, not the quantity.” Youth don’t have to carry on the same patterns set before them by adults and peers that may not have healthy values or goals.

As a pastor, he hopes youth will keep God at the forefront of their future, specifically in their families, future marriage and jobs. No matter what their childhood is or has been, he wants youth to know they can become better people and so much more.

Rister is truly making a difference in the lives of kids.

Did you know that by being a positive, inspiring adult role model, you are building developmental assets among youth? Developmental assets are positive qualities that influence young people’s development, helping them to become caring, responsible and productive adults.

The more developmental assets young people have, the less likely they are to be involved in risk-taking behaviors such as using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Nominations are being accepted for future “Be Inspiring” recipients. Submit a nomination to Kelly Felton at 218-330-8129 or go to

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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