Many seminary students take a traditional path: four years of studies at Martin Luther College, then directly to Mequon, Wis.
Not all do, however. Last year, almost one-third of the junior class had taken some time out of their studies to serve abroad. This year, a number of incoming students also have a wide-range of service experiences.
Michael Hollmann graduated from Carroll University and spent one year in the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. From August 2012 to June 2013, he served in a special disaster relief corps partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He was stationed in Vicksburg, Miss., for Hurricane Isaac; New York for Hurricane Sandy; and worked on a long-term community relations project in New Orleans, La., as part of Hurricane Katrina recovery. “The soul is eternal; homes and possessions are not,” he said. “Serving disaster survivors moved me to serve people in the most important way: a spiritual, Christ-centered way.” After serving with AmeriCorps, he spent two years at Martin Luther College to receive his seminary certification.
Samuel Jeske spent two years abroad working and sharing his faith. “It was a tremendous blessing, and has shaped and molded me so, so much! My life has forever been changed by God, by seeing his hand at work in the world. His Word truly does not return empty, and I’m so humbled he used me to carry out some of that work,” he says. “God is doing awesome things all over the world, and I’m stoked so many seminarians have experienced that prior to their call!
James Gieschen holds the record. “How about nine gap years?” he asks. After graduating from Martin Luther College, he served with Kingdom Workers in Southeast Asia. He delivered sermons, organized liturgy, taught Bible information class, and encouraged everyone in the fellowship. He met his wife, who is from Japan, at class at a local university. “I was blessed to witness the gospel to her,” he says. “She was baptized and now holds the same confidence as a child of God and an heir to eternal life. God be praised!” While still abroad, he jumped back in to studying Greek and Hebrew, using our Pastoral Studies Institue’s videos online. “My view of ministry has been affected greatly by this experience, which has convinced me of the importance of a servant’s humble heart, of the great need for called workers, and of the solemn undertaking to which we aspire,” he says.
Seminary president, Paul Wendland, notes, “It is so valuable for a seminary student to have a wide-range of experiences because it helps him transfer what is in his head and heart to his feet, his hands, and his mouth. These students make a rich contribution to our campus—and ultimately to our churches.”