In 1998, Pastor Kirby St. John was hired as River of Life’s youth director. Since that time, St. John has taken Breakthrough Student Ministries from 20 to 200 students. In 2004, River of Life church built a state-of-the-art youth facility in order to create an atmosphere where students feel acceptance, love, and are challenged to start or strengthen their walk with God.
In 2001, Pastor Kirby St. John had a vision to start a master's commission program in Cold Spring. His vision was to create a discipleship center that would train and equip new leaders for ministry, whether in the church or secular workforce, while combining experience with the benefits of college education.
After many years of planning, this vision was turned into a reality with the help of Pastor Adam Haugen who joined the staff in 2008 as the HMC executive director. Adam's wife, Amber, has served on staff at River of Life since 2002, and with her strong educational background, she became the academic dean of HMC. Heartland Master's Commission officially launched in Fall 2009.