But my journey to the ministry did not start then. It began a few months into my life when I was baptized with my family at my side, promising to raise me in the faith. My call was strengthened through the years as they brought me to Sunday worship, and Sunday school. Then, I was able to take a giant leap down the road of my faith walk during my first week of Bible camp at camp EWALU, a Lutheran Bible camp in eastern Iowa. At camp I learned to believe and trust God on my own terms, growing in faith in a way that made sense to me – out in the woods with the friends I had made there. At camp, I learned to encounter God as I hiked through the trees, cooked by the fire, studied the Bible on the prairie, and caught crawdads in the river. There, I learned to love the Lord in new and creative ways in a place where it felt only natural to praise God for the wonder of creation.
When I think about my days at camp, I am filled with fond memories of my faith development and I am also filled with gratitude to my home congregation. You see, a generous donor had left a considerable amount of money that got our church started with their endowment fund. That money was used to help young church goers like me go to camp, high school graduates go to college, and even helped pay for some of my seminary expenses down the road, a road which started with that first week at camp. My family was not poor, but neither were we rich. The full cost of camp for three boys was pretty steep and I am not sure it was one we could have handled on our own. The money that donors had left in the interest bearing fund did more than pay for me to go to camp, it ended up raising a pastor who would one day go on to serve Faith Lutheran Church in Ronan, Montana.
At our annual meeting, the congregation voted to approve a continuing resolution establishing the Mission of Faith Endowment Fund. This fund will belong to the church and be used to support the future ministry of our congregation. Though we are starting small, we are beginning a journey which could turn into something much bigger one day. Who knows where our giving will lead, but I can say that those who gave to support me on my faith journey have led me pretty far.