How Jesus multiplies by ONE

By Shaunna Sturgeon

One life dedicated to serving Jesus makes a big impact.

To meet Jesse LaForest is to encounter someone who has committed his one life to pursuing Jesus and making him known. However, his journey toward faith in Jesus has been anything but easy.

An Army veteran serving in the Iraq War as an infantryman and a recovering alcoholic, Jesse experienced the depths of humanity’s brokenness and longing for salvation. Despite his numerous trials, Jesse holds on to hope, maintaining a contagious optimism toward life as a Christ follower. He is a living example of how one life making the most of every opportunity to share Christ’s love with others can make a transformative difference in the world.

Jesse grew up in a family that deeply valued faith in Jesus. He credits his grandmother’s and mother’s influence as forming the foundation of his relationship with God. While he is grateful for his upbringing, he admits the strict environment he experienced in connection with church life served as a catalyst for rebellion after joining the Army.

While in the Army, he turned away from following Jesus and toward other means of fulfillment, such as alcohol. He insists, “I never, never said there was never a God. I just got away from the faith and practicing it because I wanted to fit in.”

Still, amid his rebellious period, Jesse recalls how God remained present and active. He remembers late-night God conversations with his comrades and wholeheartedly believes God protected him and his fellow soldiers in battle. Jesse was a member of the Third Infantry Division in the initial Iraq invasion. He states, “During the invasion, we were the spearhead of the Army, my whole brigade. That’s like 6,000 soldiers. We fought through some of the heavy stuff that the Army fought through. At the end of all of that, we only lost five soldiers.” He considers his brigade commander’s commitment to prayer critical to his unit’s survival.


It took hitting rock bottom with his alcoholism for Jesse to wake up to his need for Jesus. “If anyone ever asks,” he declares, “It’s always that. It’s alcohol that broke me because if I had been left, and God hadn’t rescued me, I wouldn’t be here.” He describes how God strategically placed people in his path who saw his desperate struggle and cared enough to persistently pursue and get him the help he needed. It was in rehab over four years ago where he prayed, “Lord, I’m so tired of this,” and, in his words, “totally surrendered.”

After that prayer, he says a lightbulb came on and he experienced a radical shift in his life’s trajectory. He immediately began sharing the gospel with anyone who would listen, including those in rehab with him. He will celebrate five years of sobriety in July 2024.

Jesse continued to grow in his faith by listening to sermons and reading books but sensed a need to join a faith community. He wanted more. Also, because of his genuine love for people and desire to bless others, he wanted ways to help the broken and hurting he encountered.

In 2022, his roommate suggested he try Framework Church in Presque Isle, Maine. He instantly felt at home. When Jesse speaks of his love for Framework, he appreciates how easy it is to bring people with him because of how well the church ministers to and loves them, which is a vital quality to him.

Framework’s Lead Pastor Jason Blaikie has had the privilege of seeing the effect of Jesse’s faith on others. He says, “One of the things I’ve always appreciated about Jesse is he’s always on mission, which is fun to watch. I think his mission from the Army to now has switched. He’s passionate about people, about discipling people. He’s on the street evangelizing, telling people about Jesus and building relationships. He’s a natural at talking to people and sharing his story. He’s in God’s army now.” Jesse says his passion for joining God’s mission comes from Paul’s use of his freedom in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, where he writes about becoming all things to all people to win some.

Because of Jesse and his dedication to sharing Jesus’ love, Framework Church has been challenged to change its ministry focus. Pastor Blaikie explains, “Jesse goes into the community, finds people who are struggling, unashamedly tells them about Jesus, and then explains to them what the church is. He does it in a way that relates to who they are. He has a deep passion to reach people for Christ.”

Pastor Blaikie tells stories of those recently deciding to follow Jesus and be baptized because of Jesse. “Jesse has brought so many new people that we’ve had to consider ways to provide transportation for those without it.” The church has also had to think about what it means to go through restoration and recovery. Pastor Blaikie says it’s all due to Jesse’s commitment to sharing the gospel.


There’s a sense of urgency as Jesse talks about his desire for others to know Jesus. He keeps Jesus’ return constantly in view as he considers the question, “What am I leaving behind for others to find?”

When asked what Jesse has taught him about Jesus, God’s kingdom and the gospel, Pastor Blaikie describes how Jesse treats people like family and truly exemplifies what it means to love others like Jesus. Pastor Blaikie says, “When you read about how Jesus just stopped and took care of people, I understand that more by watching Jesse’s life.” Even when Jesse talks about what it means for him to get a raise at work, he mentions how excited he is for more opportunities to help people.

Jesse is an inspiring example of how one life, dedicated to the way of Jesus, can make a great impact. To those struggling to live their one life for the sake of Jesus, Jesse would say, “Give it to God. Surrender to God. You can’t ever go wrong in that.”