Isaiah prophesied that the Prince of Peace would reign over his kingdom. In the New Testament we discover that this Prince would not establish his rule with armies and weapons but through followers and the gospel. Jesus Christ has been calling disciples to carry his message ever since. 

At LBS, we are privileged to meet and facilitate the preparation of these messengers. Here are the stories of two students called by the Prince of Peace to begin their studies this fall.

Ellie Bourque is from East Hartland, Connecticut. She has been interested in international missions since she first went on a mission trip with her home congregation to Guatemala when she was in eighth grade. As a young adult she spent three years with YWAM in Costa Rica (2013-2016). There she learned about a certain unreached people group in East Asia and committed to trying to bring the gospel to them. She pursued a nursing education with the goal of going to that nation.

Ellie lived in East Hartland for about three years after coming back from Costa Rica and enjoyed being involved as an adult in church life and local ministry with Bethany Lutheran Brethren Church. She especially loved being part of the prayer team and being involved in the deacon/deaconess ministry. When she first moved to New York in the summer of 2019, she had the opportunity to be a summer intern at 59th Street Lutheran Brethren Church in Brooklyn, mainly helping with worship.

That fall she moved from Brooklyn to Queens, having taken a job where she could live near a community of people from East Asia, who were of the unreached people group she had learned about in Costa Rica. Eventually, she began attending a house church with friends who also had a heart for that people group. They prayed for them regularly and also found ways to interact with persons from that East Asian country.

Ellie settled on living out the gospel as a nurse in the City. Still, she found herself thinking about the medical opportunities in Chad, opportunities that LBIM director Dan Venberg had mentioned to her a few years before. She reached out to LBIM, and Dan invited her to consider a vision trip. Last winter, Ellie was able to go to Chad for a few weeks, primarily staying with Nathanael and Carrie Szobody. And she loved it.

After much thought and prayer, she believes that the Lord is leading her to medical mission work in Chad. Her trusted friends, the leadership of LBIM, and the leadership of her home congregation have affirmed her in this calling. She moved to Fergus Falls, Minnesota this summer, and has begun study at Lutheran Brethren Seminary to earn a Certificate of Theological Studies in Missions.

“My name is Ben Osenbach and I am a sinner redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, my God and my personal Lord and Savior.”

So begins his application letter. Ben is from Utica, NY. He found LBS online.

Ben was raised outside of the CLB in a church with a more liberal persuasion, a persuasion that he bought into from a young age. By the time he became the president of his high school youth group, he had developed quite a hatred toward evangelical thinking and even preached a few heretical sermons. He thought he understood the gospel but was ignorant of his need to follow Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.

Then during his freshman year at the University at Buffalo he became involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and in a congregation that preached the gospel. In a college seminar on Christian spirituality, God showed him that he did not understand as much as he thought. Ben also noticed that evangelical Christians were much more secure and joyous in their faith than he had ever been. As he walked into class one day it finally dawned on him that he was not saved. That’s when he surrendered to Jesus and his salvation.

Ben became passionate about sharing the gospel. He served as a men’s small group leader and as new ministries planter with InterVarsity. He led an outreach to arts students and even began attending meetings of the campus LGBTA group so that he could witness to them. Within a year he was leading a weekly Bible study with seven persons from that group.

He then began to wonder where he fit theologically. He read the Bible, books on apologetics, and writings from various theological perspectives. As he read the summary of Lutheran theology in the Book of Concord, he found the connections to the person and work of Jesus Christ which he had begun to learn through InterVarsity. “I took great comfort and assurance of my salvation in the objective work of Jesus Christ, even when my emotions wavered.”

After spending two years in a PhD program at Penn State, he began his current position as an economics lecturer at SUNY Polytechnic Institute. As he became involved in church ministry, first doing children’s sermons and then leading evangelism and outreach, he was encouraged to become a pastor.

At first, he resisted that idea. Then God began to soften his heart toward a pastoral role. He wondered if his hesitation was wise or even disobedient. He had become increasingly aware that many Christians are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” and need someone to point them to Jesus. After praying through this with Kelsie, they felt that accepting the calling to pastoral ministry would be to obey God.

We are so grateful for disciples like Ellie and Ben who have been called by the Prince of Peace to carry the gospel message.

Dr. David Veum serves the Church of the Lutheran Brethren as president of Lutheran Brethren Seminary.

Undeserved Mercy
Redeeming Eid al-Adha