In Memory of Mark Bozzo, the Man with the Most Incredible Testimony I have Ever Seen

I was disappointed with the Lansing State Journal’s story about my friend Mark Bozzo’s death.  If the job was to report the news, the news was not reported.  Mark was so much more than a good person who had a big heart.  He was definitely those things, but so much more.  Mark was also a bulldog, who would be upset by being portrayed incompletely.  He’d especially be upset that the most important person in his life, Jesus Christ, was completely left out of his story.  I sent the following article in to the LSJ earlier this week, which did not get printed.  This is for you, Mark:

Lansing lost one of its finest citizens this past Wednesday when Mark Bozzo passed away peacefully in his sleep.  I had the privilege of befriending Mark over the past few months after preaching at the Lansing City Outreach’s Easter breakfast.  I just had lunch with him a few weeks ago and am still shocked he is no longer with us.

Mark was the director of the Lansing City Outreach, located at 601 N. Larch St., a ministry to the needy like no other in Lansing.  Mark also led a church service at the Outreach every Sunday, where he and his wife also cooked breakfast.  Lansing City Outreach has always been a “no barrier” homeless ministry that has had its doors open for anyone, providing overnight shelter, showers, laundry, clothing, meals, Bible studies, and most importantly, belonging and community.  Where other shelters will turn people away if they are drunk or high, the City Outreach took in everyone.  I always wondered how Mark was able to pull this off.  What I found was that Mark wasn’t like any other person I’d ever met.

Mark’s heart for the homeless and for those who didn’t know Jesus had no bounds or barriers.  The City Outreach had been closed down by the city in the past for housing people overnight without having the proper zoning license, as well as for other code violations.  Mark ran his operation on a shoestring budget, with his greatest resource being a seemingly unlimited amount of love for a demographic of people society isn’t lining up to show love to.  No zoning laws could hold back the type of love that Mark possessed.

Mark followed up my Easter sermon with a bit of his story of how he came to put his faith in Jesus.  I had no idea Mark ran Omar’s strip club in Lansing for 25 years, prior to going to prison.  Mark put his faith in Jesus as his Lord and Savior while in prison.  His changed life is all I will ever need to see that Jesus is as real as this keyboard I am typing on.

I got in my car to head home after my speaking engagement when I had a pause in my spirit.  I have written a book for men who desire to see women the way God intended, but who are struggling to do so (for the record, pretty much every man, including myself, would qualify here).  I had a box of books in my trunk and decided I’d give this former strip club boss a copy before I left.  Little did I know that small gesture would create a deep friendship that has changed me forever.

He read the entire book in two days and we were meeting for lunch the next week.  I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone so humble.  Mark had spent so many years lost on a path of darkness, years he was ashamed of and wished more than anything he could undo.  These years made him live every day like it was his last.  Every day pouring himself out in love, making up for lost time when he had hurt so many.  He shared with me over lunches and texts how heavy the burden of his past sins were.  It was so moving to see him realizing, through the Bible, that God really didn’t hold his sins against him.  That God just saw his son, and nothing else.

Mark, I can’t imagine the embrace you are getting to have with Jesus right now.  I’m mad He took you so soon, mad because so many people here depended on your life and mad we couldn’t have been friends longer.  But I know how hard you worked.  How much blood, sweat, and tears went into your ministry.  Being in the trenches day in and day out.  Now you get to rest in that sweet love of Jesus you and I talked about so deeply.

It feels like so many won’t be able to go on without you here.  But I know the multitude of seeds you planted were not in vain.  I know you have left a legacy where many, including myself, will pick up the torch and carry it on in your honor.

I love you brother, and I’m really looking forward to our next lunch meeting.


Donations can be made to the Mark Bozzo Memorial Fund payable to Angelique Bozzo, 605 South Capital Ave., Lansing MI 48933.


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10 responses to In Memory of Mark Bozzo, the Man with the Most Incredible Testimony I have Ever Seen

  1. My dad was really the best, he changed his life for the better and never looked back. He left so many people devastated with his passing, but our family is completely broken. It helps reading articles like this, knowing he really made the difference he wanted to with his time on earth.

    • Thank you Ann your comments. I am deeply touched. I am working on a letter that I’ll be sending to your family at the Mark Bozzo Memorial Fund address. It should arrive this week sometime. I have been thinking about it ever since the funeral.

    • Hi Ann, I am later than I wanted to be with this check and letter to your family. I’m just dropping it in the mail today to “the Mark Bozzo Memorial Fund payable to Angelique Bozzo, 605 South Capital Ave., Lansing MI 48933”. I wanted to give you a heads up, I’m assuming someone is still checking that mailbox but wanted to double check just in case, if you want to give them a heads up. I assume it’ll arrive on the 18th.

  2. Your article written for Mark was so eloquently written that really did tell the story of God’s redeeming grace and how Jesus is there for us if we seek him through our times of darkness. I went all through school with Mark and actually had a crush on him in kindergarten. Mark was larger than life, had a great sense of humor, and through some of his toughness at times had a big heart of gold. I was so in awe when watching his funeral on facebook the love I saw in his children for him. Mark had a unique personality and really knew how to connect with people that would make a person never forget him. Thank you for your article.

  3. I was also very saddened with the inept article from LSJ.So needless to say I was very grateful to find your story,even that did not tell all…it would be impossible to sum up the real Mark Bozzo and all that he was,what an incredible testimony he had,and such a witness, such a WARRIOR! I hope someone steps up and writes a book on his life,perhaps you?? I am sure it would be a best seller.Thank you so very much for your kind words,to bad LSJ didn’t print it,their loss.l would like to meet you sometime,until then may God bless you mightily and keep you in his loving grace. Yours in Christ, Victoria Fox

    • You are right Victoria that so much more should be said about Mark! Thinking my article was going to be for the LSJ, I was under a word count constraint or else I would’ve written a lot more!! And great idea about the book. I will honestly think about that.

      I’m one of the pastors at Crossroads Church in Lansing. Our worship services are at 10:30am if you ever want to stop in to meet me and say hi. We’re at 102 W. Cesar E. Chavez Ave. in Lansing, MI.

  4. Noah,

    My name is Chuck Bozzo I am Mark’s cousin. Thank you so much for adding to what was written in lsj. What he did for the homeless and oppressed of the area can never be duplicated. He will be missed. I’m still in shock.

  5. Hello- My name is Angela Cook. I had the pleasure of meeting Mark years ago while volunteering at Easter time. I just wanted to add to your Article about the Outreach that people don’t know. Mark would take people when no one else would in their condition , but that condition was not tolerated past the first night . Upon acceptance, to stay at the outreach there was rules and protocol to follow. The Outreach was a place for help and guidance . I want to say Thankyou for the Respect given to this selfless man.

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