Jason Haug is Executive Director at ATLAS of West Central Minnesota, a mentoring ministry that trains and equips volunteers to disciple people through struggles in their lives. He previously managed homeless assistance programs for another nonprofit in the Willmar area. He is married to Marie and has two daughters, Krista and Kayla.
I grew up going to church. But when I was young I went out of obedience to my parents and later out of obedience to my wife rather than obedience to God.
In college I pursued a career in history, earning a Master’s Degree in Public History, which led me to Pierre, SD to work for the South Dakota State Historical Society.
On October 30, 2005, while living in Pierre, my wife and I heard a presentation that forever changed my life. Dr. Don Bierle with FaithSearch International was a guest speaker at a church we had started attending. Part of Dr. Bierle’s presentation focused on the authority and historical reliability of the Bible. God used Dr. Bierle’s presentation combined with my interest in history to open my ears to His truth.
I remember coming away from the presentation thinking, “It’s true. It’s all true.” Everything in the Bible was real. The stories I had heard as a kid were all true. In the following months, I excitedly began regularly reading and studying the Bible for the first time, both by myself and together with other believers.
About six months later, Marie and I joined a couples Bible study. One of the first lessons we had to do was graph out our spiritual growth over the course of our lives, noting what caused it to go up and what caused it to go down. My graph started out pretty low until I met Marie and her family and it started to go up. Marie’s graph, however, started high until she met me, and then it started to go down.
This was a punch in the gut for me as I realized I was pulling her away from the one relationship she needed most in her life – her relationship with Jesus. I was deeply convicted about how I had been failing to love and lead her. I repented and decided I never again wanted to live in a way that led anyone away from Jesus. Instead, I wanted to use my life to help others grow closer to Him. For the next six years, I did this through local evangelism and outreach ministries, leading a small group, and going on short-term mission trips to Juarez, Mexico.
In 2012, our family (which by then included our two daughters, Krista and Kayla) moved back to Willmar, MN. I changed careers and accepted a position with United Community Action Partnership where I managed homeless assistance programs for four years. Through this position, I interacted every day with people fighting hopelessness, loneliness, and broken relationships. This experience deepened my passion to help others grow in their faith.
Because of this passion, I joined ATLAS of West Central Minnesota as a board member in 2015 and accepted the position of executive director in November 2016. ATLAS is a nonprofit ministry who engages people at difficult points in their lives and connects them into intentional one-on-one relationships with volunteer mentors who help them grow in their relationship with Jesus through their struggles.