As Zachary Schroer prepared to graduate from Lutheran Brethren Seminary (LBS) in Fergus Falls, Minnesota on May 14, Faith & Fellowship asked him about his calling.
F&F: Tell us about your family and background.
Zachary: I married Alissa after my first semester at LBS. She was raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and grew up in her faith at Bethesda Lutheran Brethren Church. I was raised Roman Catholic and my faith was nurtured there until college, when I attended an Assembly of God church. When Alissa and I began to date, we would switch between churches for Sunday services. We prayed for God’s guidance in settling on a church home and believed he was calling us to Bethesda. We both appreciate the differences in our spiritual growth through various denominations, and we use those differences to give us a fuller view of God and the Church.
F&F: How did you end up in seminary? What challenges did you face?
Zachary: Even before college, I knew I was going to go into full-time ministry through a church, but didn’t know which denomination I’d be in. So I went to the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire seeking God’s guidance. I enrolled in the Religious Studies program, planning to first learn about Christianity and other religions through a secular college, and afterward I would go to a seminary. It was God’s calling on my life from high school, and I was waiting for God to reveal his plan to me on which seminary I was to attend.
My years at UW-EC were difficult at times. I took a course called “Critiques of God.” All the students and even the professor called it “Atheism Class.” The entire course was trying to disprove the existence of God. The readings for that class were very hard to get through and often made me so mad I had to take a break from my reading. After completing the course I greatly appreciated it though, because I was able to learn what other people think about God.
The biggest hurdle getting to seminary was financial. I completed my degree at UW-EC with only a couple hundred dollars and a loan on my car. But God provided great support for us through Bethesda, through family and friends, and through a nursing job for Alissa.
F&F: Why LBS?
Zachary: LBS was the natural choice after God led us to become members of Bethesda. I did not even consider another seminary. We knew that if God called us to be members at Bethesda, then he would want me to attend LBS. After I applied and was accepted, we went to Fergus Falls to look at the seminary and become a little bit acquainted with the town. We were confirmed in our times of prayer and discussion with others, and through the provision of God in our lives as we made the move here.
F&F: What has impressed you the most in your LBS experience?
Zachary: I was greatly impressed by the faculty of LBS. Since all of them have served full-time in ministry before becoming professors, they have practical experiences to add to their teaching. They are not just teaching theology from a book, they are teaching theology that has been “lived out” and “worked through” in their various ministries.
One great highlight has been the opportunity for Alissa to audit courses for free. She has taken five courses with me, and the ability for us to discuss what is being taught at the seminary has been amazing. She will be involved with our ministry as much as I am, so for her to gain this training will be a great aid in the future.
F&F: What would you say to someone thinking about seminary?
Zachary: To those who are thinking about attending LBS—follow the call of God. He is able to provide all of your needs, and if he is calling you, you will be provided for. Alissa and I received provision from many Christians along the way as they were stewards for God and enabled us to serve him. LBS is a place where any person may go to prepare for any type of ministry work. It is not only for those following the call to become pastors. Our seminary is for those who are to be missionaries, and we are all missionaries wherever God has placed us.
F&F: What are your aspirations for the future?
Zachary: Our long-term future is to serve in God’s mission in Chad through Lutheran Brethren International Mission. Before we even met, Alissa and I both had received a calling from God to serve him in some way in Africa. We were affirmed in that calling as God brought us together. Since Chad is where the CLB is sending people in Africa, and we are a part of the CLB, we are willing to go there. Once again, we have prayed and discussed this idea, and we are confident that this is God’s leading. We look forward to the day when funding comes in from CLB churches to, Lord willing, send us there.
In the immediate future, Alissa and I will be going back to Eau Claire to continue to prepare and to wait until we are sent by the CLB to Chad as full-time missionaries. Alissa will continue to increase her nursing skills by working at one of the hospitals in town, and doing more reading on the subject. I will be doing studies on my own and with Alissa to help us prepare to serve in God’s work in Chad. I will also be working with Bethesda to develop my ministry skills and build stronger relations with that church body. We will be actively involved with Bethesda until we are sent overseas.
F&F: Is there anything you’d like to express to the people of the CLB?
Zachary: I would like to say thank you to all those who support the ministry of the CLB. Thank you to those who give money for the scholarship program at LBS and to support LBS itself. Thank you to those who give to support our present and future international missionaries. Thank you to all who give to any part of the CLB to further its service to God.
Zachary Schroer is a 2011 graduate of Lutheran Brethren Seminary in Fergus Falls, MN.
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Visit Lutheran Brethren International Mission website here