Monthly Archives: December 2013

Rev. Thomas E. J. Prachar

When I was five or six-years-old, our extended family would often gather for meals to celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. Being the youngest in the group around that time, I was always asked to pray before our meal. And so I prayed the table prayer taught to me by my mother, a prayer that I still use today. When I was finished, my grandmother would inevitably say, “He’s going to make a fine pastor some day!” I recall that I would frown, and think that I wanted to be a policeman or fireman, or anyone else more interesting than a pastor!

I believe it was then that the seed was planted. That notion of becoming a pastor was nurtured by Christian parents and God-parents who subtly encouraged my Christian growth in faith and life. They gave me the gifts of a Bible and hymnal, and generally put me in situations where a shy boy and youth spoke in front of strangers. When I was in confirmation class, I became friends with my pastor’s son. We ended up running off Sunday’s bulletin, folding it, and inserting it in the members’ mailboxes. Since I was not a “PK” (“preacher’s kid”), that friendship gave me a behind-the-scenes look at life in the parsonage. I discovered that they faced all the same problems that my family did.
My church had a good youth group at that time. My pastor, Rev. Raymond Mantynen, even took us on several field trips to Concordia, Ann Arbor, MI. I think that glimpse of studying theology and other subjects in a Christian environment did a lot to entice me to do the same someday.

As I began to more seriously consider studying for the pastoral ministry. I wasn’t sure if I was “pastor material” because of my shyness, and nervousness speaking before people. I was also concerned that I did not have the financial resources to undertake such a journey of study. My mother confided that if God wanted me to be a pastor, He would provide the money to make it happen. With sacrifices by my parents and good-paying summer jobs that came my way, I was blessed to attend college and seminary debt-free. This was indeed a blessing because I didn’t need a part-time job while at seminary, but could focus my time and effort on my studies.

When I set my sights on being a pastor, my home pastor would occasionally have me read a lesson or two in the Divine Service. One summer I helped him for a few weeks with some door-to-door evangelism.
While attending Concordia, Ann Arbor for two years, and then Concordia Senior College for another two years, I had my Greek and Hebrew language foundations solidly set in place. What a blessing to arrive at seminary with such a good start in the Biblical languages! At the seminary (St. Catharines), my favourite classes were in exegetics and homiletics. I loved to be able to really dig in to the Biblical texts! God was able to take that study, together with my limited creativity, and enable me to produce sermons that I hoped would touch people with the answer they needed for life’s problems.
One of my greatest joys in the ministry is teaching an Adult Instruction class. It is gratifying to engage in discussion with people who are seeking answers to the bigger questions of life now and hereafter. It is quite an experience to witness someone have an “Ah, ha!” moment when it comes to their eternal salvation.

As I continue to serve in whatever capacity my Lord desires of me in His church, I will always remember the phrase “sin and grace—my sin and God’s grace.” Throughout my life and ministry, I have brought Him my sin and have received my Saviour’s free and wonderful grace: His undeserved love shown to me through His cross and empty tomb.
That’s what I’ve tried to tell others throughout my ministry.

Rev. William R. A. Ney

I began thinking about the Holy Ministry when I was in Grade 5 and asked by my teacher to write a speech on what I wanted to be when I grew up. After talking it over with my parents who suggested the ministry among several other options, I decided to write the speech on becoming a Lutheran Pastor. I won a competition in my school, and from that point on set my sights on becoming a Pastor. Along the way, especially during my Confirmation Instruction my Pastor, Rev. Phil Fiess, strongly encouraged me to attend Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Michigan and to prepare for the ministry. Other Pastors and Vicars that followed Rev. Fiess also provided lots of encouragement.

Other concerns of a worldly nature, like making money, sought to derail my studies but by God’s grace and blessing I completed my studies and entered the Holy Ministry in 1973.

God gave me a deep burning in my heart for the unchurched…unbelievers… and so I have always been very much “mission-minded”. Life experiences working at Kroehler Furniture Mfg. Co, the Canadian National Railway, cleaning offices, Night Manager at a Restaurant and even working at a Dairy Queen in Stratford, Ontario all helped me to grow in my understanding of people, of human nature and was enabled to see first-hand how the average person in his or her life absolutely needs Jesus Christ, not just a knowledge that there is a God. Attending the Seminary, for me, it was like being in heaven already. The Professors, the students, the learning and the growth in spirituality all made it difficult to leave and go out into the Mission Field…into the world.
At the Seminary God always provided the funds that I needed for school and living expenses, even after Diane and I were married in 1970. The Ontario District provided a scholarship that covered most of the Tuition, Diane worked at a Day Care and I did some part time work doing tune-ups, break jobs, engine rebuilds etc. on faculty and student vehicles.

My greatest fears were that I would not have the scholastic ability to complete the preparation work at the Seminary since it required so much memorization, intellectual ability, time and effort. I also initially worried about having the funds, not wanting to leave the Seminary with debt. But God provided for all of this in amazing ways, even leading individuals to provide small cheques at times when we were broke. We always had enough money for food and rent and for gas to get us to the churches that we were assigned to for Field Work experience and exited the Seminary with no debt.

Although the ministry over 40 years now has been full of huge challenges, Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Lord has provided for all that I needed intellectually, spiritually and materially to do the work required of me and live comfortably. There are no words to describe the joy of watching children come to faith (including my own son and daughter) or be strengthened in their faith through Confirmation Instruction, or to see adults grow in their faith and trust in God through regular Bible study and worship.

But the greatest joys have been on the mission field! There I witnessed God fulfilling His promise that His Word would not return empty but would accomplish that for which He sends it. There on the Mission Field in Russia, Ukraine, Thailand and northern Canada I personally saw with my own eyes literal miracles as God provided all that I needed in order to bring His Gospel to those people and as God provided for people’s greatest need, to know Christ Jesus as their Saviour. No greater joy can be imagined than to see a person, struggling with little or no faith, respond to the Holy Spirit’s urging through the proclamation of the Gospel, with a commitment to love and honour God with his or her life and to trust in Jesus Christ alone for his or her salvation.

I cannot conceive of another occupation that is more fulfilling and spiritually strengthening or more of a blessing than that of the Office of the Holy Ministry despite its many challenges and opposition by the “old evil foe”. I look forward to continue serving Christ and His people until the day God calls me to my heavenly home which Jesus purchased and won for me with His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. There simply is not a more fulfilling calling or rewarding job on earth than that of Pastor/Missionary for Christ.